In the discussion thread: Obama calls on Congress to repeal the Bush-Cheney AUMF (military authorization) [View all]
Response to ucrdem (Original post)
Thu May 23, 2013, 04:14 PM
OnyxCollie (9,090 posts)
11. And yet...
"Astoundingly Disturbing": Obama Administration Claims Power to Wage Endless War Across the Globe
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: A Pentagon official predicted Thursday the war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates could last up to 20 more years. The comment came during a Senate hearing revisiting the Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, enacted by Congress days after the attacks. At the hearing, Pentagon officials claimed the AUMF gives the president power to wage endless war anywhere on the globe. Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine, described the hearing as the most, quote, "astoundingly disturbing" one he had been to since taking office earlier this year. King accused Obama administration of rewriting the Constitution.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Do you agree with me, the war against radical Islam, or terror, whatever description you like to provide, will go on after the second term of President Obama?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Senator, in my judgment, this is going to go on for quite a while, and, yes, beyond the second term of the president.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: And beyond this term of Congress?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Yes, sir. I think it’s at least 10 to 20 years.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: So, from your point of view, you have all of the authorization and legal authorities necessary to conduct a drone strike against terrorist organizations in Yemen without changing the AUMF.
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Yes, sir, I do believe that.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: You agree with that, General?
BRIG. GEN. RICHARD GROSS: I do, sir.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: General, do you agree with that?
GEN. MICHAEL NAGATA: I do, sir.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: OK. Could we send military members into Yemen to strike against one of these organizations? Does the president have that authority to put boots on the ground in Yemen?
ROBERT TAYLOR: As I mentioned before, there’s domestic authority and international law authority. At the moment, the basis for putting boots on the ground in Yemen, we respect the sovereignty of Yemen, and it would—
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about: Does he have the legal authority under our law to do that?
ROBERT TAYLOR: Under domestic authority, he would have that authority.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: I hope that Congress is OK with that. I’m OK with that. Does he have authority to put boots on the ground in the Congo?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Yes, sir, he does.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: OK. Do you agree with me that when it comes to international terrorism, we’re talking about a worldwide struggle?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Absolutely, sir.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Would you agree with me the battlefield is wherever the enemy chooses to make it?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Yes, sir, from Boston to the FATA.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: I couldn’t agree with you more. We’re in a—do you agree with that, General?
BRIG. GEN. RICHARD GROSS: Yes, sir. I agree that the enemy decides where the battlefield is.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: And it could be anyplace on the planet, and we have to be aware and able to act. And do you have the ability to act, and are you aware of the threats?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Yes, sir. We do have the ability to react, and we are tracking threats globally.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: From my point of view, I think your analysis is correct, and I appreciate all of your service to our country.
Power We Didn't Grant
On the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, the White House proposed that Congress authorize the use of military force to "deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States." Believing the scope of this language was too broad and ill defined, Congress chose instead, on Sept. 14, to authorize "all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons determines planned, authorized, committed or aided" the attacks of Sept. 11. With this language, Congress denied the president the more expansive authority he sought and insisted that his authority be used specifically against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
Just before the Senate acted on this compromise resolution, the White House sought one last change. Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words "in the United States and" after "appropriate force" in the agreed-upon text. This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused.
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