By Teresa Welsh |
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force which gives the president wide military powers to pursue al-Qaida and the Taliban. Nearly 12 years later, that law is still in effect.
In his recent speech at National Defense University, President Barack Obama called for modification and eventual repeal of the law, which is commonly referred to by its acronym, AUMF. "I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF's mandate. And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further," he said. "Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end."
The move won applause and condemnation from both sides of the political aisle. "Now 12 years removed from the 9/11 attacks, the original authorization is increasingly unrelated to current terrorist threats, so in order to protect the American people from these evolving threats, the administration must remain on firm legal footing provided by Congress," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. But Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. both expressed dismay at the president's speech.
"We remain at war with terrorists," said Ayotte. "Now is not the time where we can consider repealing the authorization for the use of military force." McCain added, "To somehow think that we can bring the authorization of the use of military force to a complete closure contradicts reality of the facts on the ground."
Michael Shank and Matthew Southworth wrote in U.S. News last month that "The right thing for Congress to do is to sunset the 2001 law and to return the checks and balances that previous policymakers put in place. Anything less undermines the very foundation of our democracy and ensures that America is forever at war." This week, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., introduced a bill that would repeal the authorization law in 2015, when the U.S. officially ends the war in Afghanistan.
Does the Authorization for Use of Military Force need to be repealed? Here is the Debate Club's take:
Ahmad Majidyar Senior Research Associate at the American Enterprise Institute
Barbara Lee Democratic Representative from California