Press Release – Discussion of new Authorization for Use Of Military Force (AUMF) in Washington DC
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 25, 2016
Washington, DC – Executive Director Paul Brown of Veteran’s Action Network is meeting with US House and Senate member offices April 26-28 to discuss new use of military force authorizations. He will be meeting with the offices of Representatives Walter Jones (R-NC), Peter Welch (D-VT), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Justin Amash (R-MI), Jim McGovern (D-MA), John Garamendi (D-CA), and Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Rand Paul (R-KY).
The last AUMF passed by Congress was the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, however the President declared that conflict to be over in 2011. Brown argues that current US military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia, the Philippines, and elsewhere is happening without real authorization from Congress, and therefore in violation of the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973. However, White House lawyers argue that the current military deployments are covered by the 2001 AUMF that was passed shortly after 9/11, saying it gives the President unlimited authority to fight terrorism worldwide. This argument is widely accepted in Congress. Brown counters, “this argument falls flat on its face when one inspects the actual language of the 2001 AUMF.” Citing the language of the 2001 AUMF text, Brown points out, “Clearly this AUMF does not apply to all terrorists. It applies specifically to those parties involved in 9/11, and it seeks to keep those specific parties from doing the same again.”
In his meetings with legislators Brown will be seeking support for an initiative to either pass new use of force authorizations, or a resolution to bring the remaining troops home. In a piece he wrote in March, Brown said,
“Congress must vote on a new Authorization for Use of Military Force today. If it does not pass, then it must pass a resolution to cease all combat operations worldwide and return our troops home. If it does pass, the language must be specific, clear, and direct so that we have actual objectives upon which our troops can deliver. For far too long this decision has been politicized. I understand that voting on this issue opens Congress up to greater risk — if things go poorly after the decision it opens them up to blame, and no one wants to be held responsible when something bad happens. But that is Congress’ job, and we owe it to our troops, past, present, and future to commit to winning or to stay out of it entirely.”
Though he recognizes the political reality that it is difficult to accomplish anything substantive in Congress, Brown expects support from the members he is meeting this week. In 2014 Rep. Justin Amash made statements admonishing Congress for taking a two-month recess instead of debating and voting on war. Representatives Jim McGovern, Walter Jones, and Barbara Lee (D-CA) have all been involved in multiple efforts to bring up votes for new AUMFs or resolutions to bring the remaining troops home. Though Brown will not be meeting with Representative Lee this week, he had a phone meeting with one of her staffers earlier this month, which he described as favorable.
The timing of these meetings is appropriate given that they take place at the same time as Congress debates and votes on a new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). While previous efforts in Congress to pass a new AUMF or bring the troops home have failed, Brown hopes that people are ready for change, and that these meetings will help to create a more unified front on this effort.
Veterans Action Network is a political non-profit dedicated to giving veterans a voice through political advocacy and grassroots networking. Paul Brown is a Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq War, the author Total War, and a former US Congressional Candidate in Texas. He has written articles for The Hill, The Marine Corps Times, The Washington Times, and various blogs.