Tag Archives: AUMF

Rand Paul Warns AUMF Gives the President Unlimited War Powers

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) publicly rebuked the recently-proposed Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), warning about the bill’s potential dangers and how its passage could further codify war-making powers in the hands of the executive branch. In an op-ed published Monday, Paul explained how passage of the AUMF, Congress is abdicating authority to prevent unlimited war, and is instead going to codify the “unacceptable, unconstitutional status quo.”

“It is clear upon reading the AUMF, put forward by Senators Tim Kaine and Bob Corker, that it gives nearly unlimited power to this or any other president to be at war whenever he or she wants, with minimal justification and no prior specific authority,” Paul wrote in an op-ed in the American Conservative.

“Under this bill, Congress could only disapprove of war, turning the Constitution on its head,” Paul claimed. “Even worse, any resolution of disapproval could be vetoed, meaning two thirds of Congress would need to disapprove of a war, rather than a majority to approve of one. That’s a huge, unwise, and unconstitutional change.”

[Related: Civil Liberties Advocates: Proposed AUMF Gives President “Blank Check” War Powers]

Sen. Paul declared that passage of a proposed new AUMF would serve to further remove Congress from the equation in terms of declaring war, and that this combats the checks and balances put in place by the Founding Fathers to prevent consolidation of power within the executive branch.

“That isn’t an AUMF. That isn’t Congress reclaiming its constitutional duties. That’s a complete rewriting of the role of the executive and of the constitutional separation of powers.”

The Kentucky senator noted that the Founding Fathers knew of the tendency of the executive branch to launch wars, so they built in checks to prevent it. Currently, the War Powers Act is supposed to limit the use of force by the executive, with the exception of a national emergency or an imminent attack, but rarely does so in the modern era. As Paul wrote, “For some time now, Congress has abdicated its responsibility to declare war. The status quo is that we are at war anywhere and anytime the president says so.”

Paul warned that “If this AUMF is passed, Congress will have chosen to make itself irrelevant on the issue of war.”

Read the full op-ed by Sen. Rand Paul here.

Civil Liberties Advocates: Proposed AUMF Gives President “Blank Check” War Powers

On Monday, Senators Bob Corker and Tim Kaine led a bipartisan group of senators in introducing legislation which would replace the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force (AUMF) with a new authorization which critics fear would allow the U.S. President to launch wars around the world with little oversight. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Jeff Flake, Chris Coons, Todd Young, and Bill Nelson. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to debate, amend, and vote on the legislation beginning next week.

“There have been a number of efforts over the years to update these authorities, and while there is still work ahead, I am pleased that we have reached an agreement on a product for the committee to consider,” Corker stated.

The introduction of a new AUMF comes on the heels of strikes against Syria in response to an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government. Corker applauded Trump for his choice to launch strikes against Syria, but cautioned, “Going forward, it is imperative that the administration engage directly with Congress and clearly communicate its plan to the American people.”


According to the Unites States Constitution, the only way the Congress can declare war is through an AUMF or a declaration of war. Politicians are wary of directly voting to support sending more troops into danger or being on record supporting potentially disastrous military conflicts. Rather than voting on a new AUMF every time the U.S. decides to launch or join a conflict abroad (such as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, and Syria), the last three administrations have used the AUMF from 2001 and 2002 to justify their interventions. The 2001 and 2002 AUMFs were passed to authorize the use of military force in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks and to target Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

“If we’re going to ask our troops to risk their lives in support of a mission, then we need to at least have the courage to show we are behind them,” Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, stated.

Corker and Kaine’s resolution is attempting to force a vote on a new AUMF which will explicitly outline the war powers delegated to the president. According to the legislation, the new AUMF would authorize the executive to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against al-Qaida, the Taliban, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and designated “associated forces.” The “associated forces” include the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the East African terrorist group al-Shabab, the Syria-based Nusra Front, the Haqqani network in Afghanistan, and al-Qaida in the Islamic Mahgreb. In addition, the legislation would require Congress to review the AUMF every four years, and “does not provide authority for military action against any nation state.”

The legislation would grant the president the freedom to “immediately use force against a new associated force or in a new country” so long as the Congress is notified within 48 hours. Despite requiring the president to report to Congress within 48 hours of an attack (or if the president wants to designate a new organization as “associated forces” with known terror groups) it does not include any mechanism for enforcing the requirement.

The American Civil Liberties Union is among the critics of the legislation who fear that President Trump and future administrations are being granted authorization to launch wars wherever they choose, whenever they choose. The ACLU recently sent a letter to all senators strongly opposing this new AUMF, warning that the president “would get a blank check from Congress to go to war virtually anywhere on the planet.”

The ACLU wrote:

The Corker AUMF would cause colossal harm to the Constitution’s checks and balances, would jeopardize civil liberties and human rights at home and abroad, would lead to a breathtakingly broad expansion of war without meaningful oversight, and would represent a sharp break from adherence to international law, including the United Nations Charter.If enacted, a Corker AUMF could cause fundamental damage to the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights for a generation or longer.

While we share the frustration of many senators with expansive presidential claims of war authority based on the 2001 AUMF and the 2002 AUMF, the proposed Corker AUMF would cause far greater problems, and unless the courts would invalidate it as unconstitutional, it would be exceedingly difficult to curtail its damage.The ACLU, along with other human rights, civil liberties, and religious organizations will make stopping a Corker AUMF from becoming law an exceedingly high priority, given the likelihood of long-term global damage if enacted.

The ACLU noted that the Corker AUMF would give the Executive Branch of the U.S. government the power to declare war and grant all future presidents the authority to “engage in worldwide war, sending American troops to countries where we are not now at war and against groups that the President alone decides are enemies.”
The solution to these problems seems apparent: force the politicians to hold a vote authorizing each and every conflict the United States military is currently embroiled in. This would allow the American public to learn about the true depth of U.S. military expansion, as well as place them on the record either supporting or standing against war. Since that option is not on the table, another option would be to repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs and force Congress to hold a new vote on the use of military force. However, the proposed AUMF appears to grant the president and Executive Branch the ultimate power to decide who is considered “associated forces” and to continue interventions throughout the entire world.

Opposition Growing Against ISIS War Authorization

War Authorization Might Not Even Get Out of Committee

by Jason Ditz, March 05, 2015

The Obama Administration’s Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS was already facing an uphill battle, after the White House bragged about deliberately vague wording in the resolution that would let them do virtually anything.

At this point, there’s not a single Democrat in the entire Senate pitching for the bill, and with a number of hawks in the Republican majority also annoyed that the AUMF isn’t explici5tly broader, it’s hard to see it passing.

Sen. Bob Corker (R – TN), the extremely hawkish head of the Foreign Relations Committee, is warning that if there isn’t some support from Democrats he might decide to scrap the committee vote outright, meaning the bill probably would never even make it to the floor.

In spite of still not having a war authorization, however, the Obama Administration continues to escalate the war against ISIS, and has treated the AUMF as an afterthought.

House Rejects Measure to End War on Terror

This article was written by guest contributor Jason Ditz.

Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D – CA) efforts to repeal the 2001 Authorization on the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which the Bush and Obama Administrations have used as the legal cover for virtually all military operations since, failed today in a 191-233 vote.

The bill had initially been seen as having some administration support, but that myth evaporated after yesterday’s fiasco in the Senate, where officials argued the AUMF had nothing to do with anything, and that President Obama would attack whomever he pleased, whenever he pleased. The officials came out for vague, non-specific changes to AUMF, but not for repeal.

This led hawks to angrily condemn Rep. Schiff’s bill, with Rep. Mac Thornberry (R – TX) accusing him of having “forgotten” 9/11. The Senate’s AUMF efforts don’t look promising either, with some now arguing in favor of “revisions” that would greatly expand the war powers to authorize President Obama’s attacks on groups not even cursorily linked to al-Qaeda.

Underscoring just how little appetite there is for even the illusion of change, Rep. Adam Smith (D – WA) introduced an amendment to allow transfer of Gitmo detainees, something President Obama demanded, and that too was rejected. The White House had threatened a veto if they didn’t get this, but where they stand now is unclear.

In the end, the $601 billion military spending bill, which was bigger than even the Pentagon sought, passed easily in a 325-98 vote, and is now just waiting for the Senate to come up with their version, so they can reconcile the two.


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