Senator Corker Releases Dangerously Overbroad Authorization for Use of Military Force

Washington, D.C.Human Rights First today expressed serious concern over the proposal from Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) for a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). The proposal would permit President Trump to continue all current military operations, and to unilaterally go to war in new countries and with new groups, subject only to a vote by a veto-proof majority of both houses of Congress. It additionally provides for a review of the AUMF every four years, but any revisions or rejection of the president’s expansions must pass by a veto-proof supermajority. While it requires the president to notify Congress when adding new groups or expanding to new countries, such reporting is already required under current law.

“Senator Corker’s proposal not only sanctions 17 years of unilateral expansion by three administrations under the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, it provides no new constraints and gives this and future administrations a blank check to use force against new groups and in new locations without prior congressional approval,” said Human Rights First’s Rita Siemion. “The proposal would effectively cede to the executive branch Congress’s constitutional power to declare war and undermine human rights protections and the rule of law by enabling an amorphous and indefinite war.”

Human Rights First notes that the 2001 AUMF, which authorized the use of force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and the 2002 AUMF, which authorized force to address the threat posed by the Saddam Hussein regime, have been stretched to cover the use of lethal force in over a dozen countries against an array of terrorist organizations, many of which did not even exist in 2001.

“Any new AUMF should reflect the hard lessons of the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs,” added Siemion. “It should be tailored to the current threat, provide meaningful public transparency and congressional oversight, and include a sunset date to ensure continued congressional approval and oversight as the conflict evolves and provide a safeguard against perpetual armed conflict. If Congress cannot reach agreement on an authorization with a clearly defined scope and firm limits, it should not pass one.”

For Human Rights First’s recommendations on how to draft a clear and specific AUMF that is tailored to the conflict, see our Drafting an Effective Authorization for Use of Military Force.


Published on April 17, 2018


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