The proposal — put forth by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) — notes that many of al-Qaeda core’s top leaders and those responsible for the attacks — including Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — are either dead or in prison and that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that AQ core has been so “degraded” that “probably unable to carry out complex, large-scale attacks in the West.” The measure proposes sunsetting the 9/11 AUMF to coincide with the transition of U.S. military forces out of Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
“Schiff’s legislation finds that the [AUMF] now poorly defines those who pose a threat to the country, and that it should expire concurrent with the end of our combat role in Afghanistan,” a statement on Schiff’s website says:
“When Congress passed the AUMF shortly after 9/11, we did not intend to authorize a war without end,” said Rep. Adam Schiff. “The cessation of our combat mission in Afghanistan next year is a logical end point for an authorization that now provides a poor description of the groups which threaten us, and an increasingly precarious legal rationale for going after them. As the President observed recently, if we don’t define the nature of the threat we face, it will define us.”
In his major national security speech last month, President Obama said he wanted to work with Congress on changing or repealing the AUMF because the nature of counterterrorism has changed and the authority granted by Congress has become outdated.
“The AUMF is now nearly 12 years old. The Afghan war is coming to an end. Core al Qaeda is a shell of its former self,” Obama said. “Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states.”
Congress is responding to calls to rein in the more far-reaching aspects of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism polices. Democrats are joining Republicans in calling for more oversight of the targeted killing program and the Hill recently reported that some “defense lawmakers” are considering a measure to tighten the scope of those individuals the program targets. (HT: Lawfare)