4/17/2018 by John F. O’Donnell
How utterly impotent is Congress when it comes to curtailing Trump’s ability to wage unlimited war? VERY. If last week’s missile strikes on Syria tell us anything, it’s that Congress is unlikely to try and reclaim its war-authorization powers. It’s a lot easier for Congresspeople to defer to the Executive Branch and thus maintain plausible deniability if wars go horribly awry. The 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) have allowed Congress to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to war-making decisions. These authorizations have also given the President unprecedented and completely-unchecked war-waging capabilities for OVER 15 YEARS AND COUNTING!
The Democratic Party “Resistance,” which in this instance seems to be led by Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, claims they want to limit Trump’s war powers. In response to the recent military action in Syria, Kaine said – “President Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes against the Syrian government without Congress’s approval is illegal and – absent a broader strategy – it’s reckless…Presidents cannot initiate military action when there isn’t an imminent threat to American lives.” Kaine is working in a bipartisan capacity with Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker to introduce a new AUMF to replace the outdated ones still on the books. Democrats claim it would put a check on Trump’s bellicose impulses. But according to both legal scholars and civil liberties groups, this new AUMF would be open to sweeping interpretations that could actually give Trump EVEN MORE power to wage war without Congressional oversight. Once again, the “Resistance” is putting forth lies that ultimately manufacture our consent for the limitless power of the Military Industrial-Complex.
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According to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) letter to all members of the Senate –
“The two most recently enacted AUMFs were a 2001 AUMF to authorize the use of military force in Afghanistan against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, and a 2002 AUMF to use military force against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. Through three presidents, both of these AUMFs have been cited as authority by the Executive Branch for the use of force in places, and against persons, far removed from the purpose and language of the two current AUMFs. But the answer for the overly expansive claims for the two current AUMFs is for Congress to repeal or carve back the current AUMF – and not to pass the Corker AUMF or any other proposal that is far broader and more dangerous than even current law.”
Congress is creating a legal framework for endless war against endless enemies, going beyond even the scope of the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs. The fact that Congress is proposing a new AUMF that is FAR BROADER and even MORE DANGEROUS than the current ones we’re using that already justify any and all military action we want around the globe, should be, uh, cause for concern! This new AUMF, referred to as the Corker AUMF, would authorize force – without limit in scope or time – against a long list of organizations, as well as in more than six countries, with an allowance for the Executive Branch to add to both lists as it sees fit, with only reports of expansion to Congress needed. The Trump administration, and future presidents, would even be able to add groups they want to target for war – even if those groups didn’t exist on the date of enactment. That’s CRAZY. And these are just a few of the nasty things rolled up in this Corker AUMF. For those interested in learning more, this ACLU brief is worth reading.
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