By Michael YEGHIAYAN
Congressman Adam Schiff introduced legislation that would potentially limit executive military powers granted after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. If passed, the bill would eventually sunset the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) by the beginning of 2015.
While the AUMF was originally designed to give the president additional powers to fight Al-Qaeda related terrorism, Schiff argues that the law no longer accurately addresses threats to American interests.
“When Congress passed the AUMF shortly after 9/11, we did not intend to authorize a war without end,” explained Schiff in a statement. “The cessation of our combat mission in Afghanistan next year is a logical end point for an authorization that now provides a poor description of the groups which threaten us, and an increasingly precarious legal rationale for going after them. As the President observed recently, if we don’t define the nature of the threat we face, it will define us.”
President Barack Obama recently called on Congress to act on a reduction of his office’s expanded military powers during a speech at the National Defense University.
“I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate,” President Obama said. “And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end.”
The AUMF has been used to authorize drone strikes against terrorist operatives and allows for the indefinite detention of terrorist suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. The powers were granted after the World Trade Center attacks, giving the president the power to use “force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 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.”
With the withdrawal of American troops in Afghanistan planned for the end of 2014, the passage of this bill would allow Congress to redefine the legality of the president’s role in the country’s defense policy.