It’s Time to Repeal the AUMF

Even a mainstream media dinosaur like the New York Times will publish something decent and in the public interest from time to time.  In case you aren’t familiar with the AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force), it was the law enacted three days after 9/11 to provide the President of the United States with the flexibility to fight the now never-ending “war on terror.”  It is very important that we deal with the AUMF and get rid of it once and for all, since it is the key law used by the Obama Administration to justify the NDAA, and very soon may be used to kill “associates of associates” (basically anyone they want) of Al Qaeda without charges or a trial.  This editorial published l over the weekend calls for a repeal of the AUMF and I completely agree.  We can’t trust our current or future leaders to not abuse this authority.  From the New York Times:

Three days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Congress approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force. It was enacted with good intentions — to give President George W. Bush the authority to invade Afghanistan and go after Al Qaeda and the Taliban rulers who sheltered and aided the terrorists who had attacked the United States.

Mr. Bush used the authorization law as an excuse to kidnap hundreds of people — guilty and blameless people alike — and throw them into secret prisons where many were tortured. He used it as a pretext to open the Guantánamo Bay camp and to eavesdrop on Americans without bothering to obtain a warrant. He claimed it as justification for the invasion of Iraq, twisting intelligence to fabricate a connection between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks.

Unlike Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama does not go as far as to claim that the Constitution gives him the inherent power to do all those things. But he has relied on the 2001 authorization to use drones to kill terrorists far from the Afghan battlefield, and to claim an unconstitutional power to kill American citizens in other countries based only on suspicion that they are or might become terrorist threats, without judicial review.

The concern that many, including this page, expressed about the authorization is coming true: that it could become the basis for a perpetual, ever-expanding war that undermined the traditional constraints on government power. The result is an unintelligible policy without express limits or protective walls.

But the administration still has not fully disclosed to Congress the legal documents on which the targeted killing program is based. And in that same article, The Post said the administration was debating whether it could stretch the law to make it apply to groups that had no connection, or only slight ones, to Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks.

A big part of the problem is that the authorization to use military force is too vague. It gives the president the power to attack “nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

Making the law more specific, however, would only further enshrine the notion of a war without end. And, as Jeh Johnson, then counsel to the defense secretary, said in a speech last November, “War must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs.”

The right solution is for Congress to repeal the 2001 authorization.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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  1. Just a quick note that Rep. Barbara Lee [D, CA] has already introduced HR198, a bill to repeal the AUMF. You can read about it here.

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