Alberto Gonzales: Obama authorized to retaliate militarily for James Foley's murder

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Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales believes President Obama has all the legal authority he needs to order a military response to the brutal beheading of American journalist James Foley by Islamic State militants.

Appearing on Fox News' "The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson," Gonzales said, "If you assume the War Powers Act is constitutional that does allow the United States -- the president of the United States -- to execute military action in response to a threat or in response to an actual attack."

As then-White House counsel, Gonzales was considered one of the key architects in establishing the legal foundations for former President George W. Bush's response to the 9/11 attacks and subsequent War on Terror.

"I think that you could make an argument that in fact this has been an attack against U.S. interests -- the killing of an American citizen -- and the response can be use of force," Gonzales said. "I think it has got to be proportional. It's got to be somewhat limited. But I do believe that an argument can be made that the president can use force in response to this kind of threat."

Reacting to Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to open a criminal investigation into Foley's execution, Gonzales noted: "What happened on the video was clearly a crime and obviously the Department of Justice is charged with prosecuting crimes. But I am hoping that the U.S. government is going to pull all levers of power to address this threat," adding "from my perspective, it's much more than a crime. As the White House spokesman said, this was an act of terrorism."

Gonzales placed some of the blame for the rise of the ISIS threat on what he perceives as the Obama administration's lack of action: "I know it takes time -- it takes time to put together a plan, it takes time to identify the leadership, it takes time to identify targets, it takes time to work with allies -- but I think we're in the situation today because this administration waits and waits and lets problems fester and fester until they become so bad there are no good options."