New AUMF allows an autocratic president to wage war anywhere in the world without congressional approval
JANUARY 25, 2016
A week after Obama’s State of the Union address Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a procedural step known as Rule 14 and put a measure on the floor and introduced a refashioned AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) written by the Republican neocon Sen. Lindsey Graham.
In November Graham spelled out the details of his AUMF:
I’m going to introduce an authorization to use military force against ISIL that is not limited by time, geography or means. We only have two choices regarding ISIL—fight them in their backyard or fight them in ours. I choose to fight them in their backyard.
At the time it was said Graham’s AUMF had little chance of making it to the Senate floor, but that changed last week when McConnell used Rule 14 which bypasses the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Graham’s authorization would not rule out the use of ground troops and would not have time or geographic limitations.
Sarah Mimms and Alex Rogers wrote for the National Journal:
The AUMF put forward by McConnell would not restrict the president’s use of ground troops, nor have any limits related to time or geography. Nor would it touch on the issue of what to do with the 2001 AUMF, which the Obama administration has used to attack ISIS despite that authorization’s instructions to use force against those who planned the 9/11 terrorist attacks. By contrast, the legal authority put forward by the administration last February wouldn’t authorize “enduring offensive ground combat operations” and would have ended three years after enactment, unless reauthorized.
“Considering what Bush and Obama did with the 2001 AUMF—invading and occupying countries in ‘pre-emptive’ war, CIA black sites, extrajudicial killings, inventing the term ‘enemy combatants’ to bypass international law, new forms of torture, drone bombing women and children, and assassinating U.S. citizens—the specter of a new and expanded AUMF is truly frightening,” writes Justin Gardner.
Connecticut Democrat Sen. Chris said Graham’s “resolution is a total rewrite of the War Powers Clause in the U.S. Constitution. It is essentially a declaration of international martial law, a sweeping transfer of military power to the president that will allow him or her to send U.S. troops almost anywhere in the world, for almost any reason, with absolutely no limitations.”
In addition to violating Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which states only the Congress has the authority to declare war, Graham’s AUMF undermines the War Powers Resolution enacted in 1973 during the Vietnam War.
The Resolution was adopted in the form of a congressional joint resolution and provided that the President can send the military into action abroad only by declaration of war by Congress, “statutory authorization,” or in case of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”