Report: House Lawmakers Considering New Restrictions On Counterterror Rules

(Credit: Rob Jensen/USAF via Getty Images)

House lawmakers are reportedly considering requiring changes to rules that guide U.S. counterterrorism operations in an effort rein in some of the more far-reaching aspects of the Obama administration’s targeted killing program.

President Obama in a major speech last week said that he would begin the process of putting tighter restrictions on his administration’s counterterrorism policies, including calling for a revision or an outright repeal of the 2001 Authorization of Military Force Congress past after 9/11 giving the president wide powers to militarily confront terrorists abroad.

However, an outline of the White House’s policy guidance on counterterrorism missions abroad released after the President’s speech says that the U.S. has the authority to “use all available tools of national power to protect the American people from the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa’ida and its associated forces [emphasis added].”

According to the Hill, “defense lawmakers” want to require the President and the Defense Department “to review all groups or individuals now characterized as ‘associated forces’ under the current rules” as the “associated forces” language can be broadly interpreted to justify targeting those who do not pose a direct threat to the United States.

While it’s unclear who is advocating for the changes, the Hill says a spokesperson for the House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) disputed that the changes are being debated.

While some in the House GOP caucus are calling for more oversight of the President’s targeted killing program, other Republicans haven’t been too enthusiastic about Obama’s plans to scale back America’s so-called “war on terror.”

“I believe we are still in a long, drawn-out conflict with Al Qaeda. to somehow argue that Al Qaeda is ‘on the run’ comes from a degree of unreality that, to me, is really incredible,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said in response to Obama’s speech last week, adding, “To somehow think we can bring the [AUMF] to a complete closure contradicts the reality of the facts on the ground.”