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Old 03-08-2018, 03:10 PM
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Arrow Congress must take back its war-making powers

Congress must take back its war-making powers
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | | March 8, 2018 at 6:00 am

For more than a decade, American military involvement in the Middle East and Africa has been almost entirely guided by the whims of the executive branch. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

The Constitution unambiguously grants Congress the responsibility to declare war.

In 2001, following the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress approved a 60-word “Authorization for Use of Military Force” permitting the president to go after those who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons …”

Over the 16-plus years since, the Bush, Obama and now Trump administrations have stretched the limits of that AUMF and a subsequent AUMF passed in 2002 with respect to military action in Iraq.

The 2001 AUMF, for instance, has been invoked to justify military operations in 18 countries, including against organizations which didn’t even exist in 2001.

Now, the 2001 AUMF is being stretched further by the Trump administration to justify continued American military actions and nation-building efforts in Syria and Iraq.

Last December, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, sought clarification from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis regarding the American mission in Syria following reports that there are 2,000 American troops there.
In response, letters dated Jan. 29 from David Trachtenberg, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, and Feb. 12 by Mary Waters, Assistant Secretary of State, not only reiterated the false claim that the 2001 AUMF justifies action against ISIS, but that no formal authorization is needed to continue American actions in Syria and Iraq.

Kaine rightly denounced this rationale as contrary to what the founders had in mind, and called on the president to seek congressional permission for continued military actions. Congressmen Justin Amash, R-Michigan, and Barbara Lee, D-California, have echoed these calls with demands for repealing the 2001 AUMF and writing a new one with clear limits.

Congress cannot continue to stand by as unauthorized, perpetual wars persist. Repealing the 2001 AUMF is a needed step towards reasserting congressional authority over war-making.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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