Hearing Reveals Deep Skepticism About New War Powers Authority

Washington, D.C. – Senators, military leaders and administration officials today voiced deep skepticism about calls for a new Authorization for Use of Military Force, concerns shared by Human Rights First. The discussion occurred as the Senate Armed Services Committee explored the current 2001 AUMF, which could expire when the United States leaves Afghanistan.

Many members of the committee appeared to echo the sentiments of Ranking Member Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who observed, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In addition, a joint statement for the record submitted by the Department of Defense added that there is no need for a new AUMF and that “existing authorities are adequate for this armed conflict.”

Human Rights First’s Dixon Osburn said, “Today the military confirmed that it can handle existing threats without a new AUMF and the administration is not seeking expanded authorities. That’s the bottom line here. Congress has every right to be concerned about taking steps to authorize permanent, global war against terrorist groups wherever they may reside. The American people don’t want that.”

Human Rights First notes that during the ongoing debate about whether a new AUMF is needed, the administration should make clear that a group labeling itself as Al Qaeda does not necessarily make it an organization that actually has the ability or intent to attack the United States or its vital national security interests. And, as the Department of Defense confirmed today, “Should a new group threaten us…we would consult with Congress to determine whether additional tools are necessary or appropriate.”


Published on May 16, 2013


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