Why is it critical to change the language? The administration should be able to provide evidence (through multiple sources of intelligence, not just drone surveillance) that a group or individual has both the capacity and imminent intent to attack the United States or U.S. assets before it can conduct a strike or deploy Special Forces units. The evidence could be reviewed internally and reported to the appropriate congressional committees for further oversight.
This brings us to our third point. The authorization law lacks oversight. To further increase transparency, all Department of Defense reporting on lethal strikes – currently optional – should be made mandatory. Unclassified or redacted versions of reports could also live online somewhere in the public domain.This could include making the muddled and unduly secret list of "associated forces" public. The public should not have to rely on investigative journalism to know what is happening around the world in their name and on their dime.
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.