News Release

AUMF “Reform”: Codifying Perpetual War?


Elizabeth Goitein recently wrote the piece “The Corker-Kaine Bill Would Codify, not End, the Forever War” which states: “Senators Corker and Kaine want Congress to get back into the game. Unfortunately, however, their bill would do little more than codify Congress’s abdication. It would authorize the use of military force against the groups the United States is currently fighting, in the countries where we are fighting now. But it would not limit the conflict to those groups or countries.”

MARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal at gmail.com, @marjoriecohn
Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

She said today: “In 2001 and 2002, Congress enacted Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively. Although the authorizations were limited, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump, have used them as an excuse to attack whatever country they wished. Efforts to repeal and replace these AUMFs have been unsuccessful.

“Now, under the guise of fulfilling its constitutional power to authorize military force, Congress is poised to consider legislation that would give the president a blank check to make war. A bipartisan group of Senators has introduced a new AUMF that would authorize the president to use military force, with no limits, in at least six countries and against several groups. The president could add countries and groups as he or she pleased, with little congressional oversight. And the bill would have no expiration date. Moreover, it would run afoul of the United Nations Charter.”

Cohn has written “Mattis, Tillerson Want Blank Check to Wage Illegal War” and “Congress Must Reclaim War-Making Authority.”