This week the House of Representatives considered the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. As part of their debate, the House considered 172 amendments. Among these amendments were ones dealing indefinite detention, the use of unmanned drones both in the US and abroad, and whether or not the US Government needs to reduce its spending on overseas militarism (SPOILER ALERT: It does).
Sadly, one amendment that was denied a vote was an amendment filed by California Democrat Barbra Lee and Georgia Republican Paul Broun to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). This was an important amendment because apologists for the President claim the 2001 AUMF gives the President authority to spy, detain, and even kill anyone he chooses.
The 2001 AUMF was passed just days following the September 11 attacks, and it authorized the President “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001...”
Congress did give the President broad powers in the bill but only as far as they related to bring those responsible for the September 11 attacks to justice. Yet the Obama Administration uses the 2001 AUMF to justify actions that have no relationship to the 2001 attacks.
Twelve years after the terrorists attacks, and two years after American forces captured and killed Osama Bin Laden, it certainly seems reasonable for Congress to at least debate repealing the 2001 AUMF. Hopefully, there will be other opportunities for Congress to consider repealing the 2001 AUMF this year.