Congress Never Authorized a War Without End


On December 31, 2014, the last American combat troops will rotate out of Afghanistan and the responsibility for security will be passed to the Afghan people after thirteen years of war. New Year's Day 2015 should not only bring a new relationship between the United States and Afghanistan, but it should also mark the end of the conflict that was begun in our skies on September 11, which was formalized days later when Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

The AUMF provided the president with the authority to use force against those who "planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001" or harbored them. It was never intended to authorize a war without end, and it now poorly defines those who pose a threat to the country. I have introduced a bill which sunsets the AUMF effective December 31, 2014, and calls on the administration and Congress to work together to determine what new authority, if any, is necessary to protect the country after that time.

The senior leadership of al-Qaida has now been decimated. The current AUMF has been used to support targeted strikes against al-Qaida's operatives in other countries, and against individuals, entities and organizations that may affiliate with al-Qaida, or share its ideology and its determination to attack Americans, but which may not have even been in existence on September 11, 2001. It has also been used as a basis to detain terrorists at the facility at Guantanamo Bay.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Middle East.]

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution invests in Congress the power to declare war. It is our most awesome responsibility and is central to our military efforts overseas. We owe it to the men and women we send into combat to properly define and authorize their mission, and my bill will effectively give Congress the next 18 months to do so.

In his recent speech at the National Defense University, President Obama specifically called on Congress to work with him saying, "I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF's mandate."

This bill is a prudent first step towards meeting the President's challenge, a call that we must embrace – not as Republicans or Democrats – but as members of Congress sworn to defend the Constitution.

Adam Schiff

About Adam Schiff Democratic Representative from California

Obama, Barack

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