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There can be no doubt that the AUMF signed by George W. Bush in 2001 has fundamentally changed America... for the worse -- in many profoundly ugly ways. It's repeal is absolutely imperative to change the direction of both our foreign and domestic policy. Apparently, Representative Adam Schiff (D-Cal) agrees with that assertion. But since the law's repeal is politically untenable right now, Rep. Schiff`has instead called for the next best thing -- a sunset provision. A bill is in the works.

The president's speech yesterday called for a gradual ramping down of the war on terror and subsequently it's eventual conclusion. It's the first time since 2001 that a POTUS has even suggested an end in sight for the decade-plus, multi-fronted military action in foreign countries. Even though the details of the president's proposal remain vague and non-specific, it's bound to be a conversation starter both in Congress and Main Street.

And that's a good thing.

Schiff is a member of the House Intelligence committee.'s Danger Room has the (exclusive) story:.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is preparing a piece of legislation that would “sunset” the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), a foundational law passed in the days after the 9/11. “The current AUMF is outdated and straining at the edges to justify the use of force outside the war theater,” Schiff tells Danger Room.

Repealing the AUMF would be the boldest restriction of presidential war powers since 9/11. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have relied on the document to authorize everything from the warrantless electronic surveillance of American citizens to drone strikes against al-Qaida offshoots that did not exist on 9/11. Getting rid of it is certain to invite fierce opposition from more bellicose members of Congress, who have repeatedly demagogued efforts to roll back any post-9/11 wartime authority, let alone the most important one.

Schiff is no flaming liberal. He's widely considered a moderate. But it's becoming clearer by the day to reasonable congress critters from all over the country that the fight against terrorism has to be conducted in a more restrictive, Constitutional way with heightened concerns for civil rights and liberties at home, and basic sovereign and human rights abroad. He's certainly not alone in this quest. His fellow California congressional Representative Barbara Lee has fought long and hard against this broad extension of executive authority, having been the only legislator to vote against the original bill back in 2001.

Even tea party congress critters like Senator Rand Paul (R-Ken.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Ut.) have called for a rollback of the far-reaching law. Even though overall momentum is mounting in Congress, any challenge to the law will still face significant resistance from other more hawkish congress critters at both ends of the Capitol.  `

Especially diehard neocons and pathetic MIC sycophants like Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

More from

Schiff thinks that the end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014 ought to occasion the end of the AUMF, and his bill would use the Afghanistan drawdown as a hinge point. He openly admits to being unsure whether Congress should pass a follow-on piece of legislation allowing the president a limited version of his war powers, or what those post-Afghanistan powers might appropriately be.

The U.S.’s counterterrorism “architecture is becoming increasingly unsustainable,” Schiff says, “but I have only a less clear idea of what should follow.” Schiff, a moderate, is still in the early drafting stage of the bill and doesn’t yet have a timeline for introducing it. But the animating idea behind it is that Obama ought to come back to Congress to outline what war powers are necessary, so legislators can go on record blessing or rejecting the next phase of the war on terrorism.

Prior to this effort, Congress tried to re-examine this issue back in 2010. But that time, the intent was different. After the GOP's electoral successes, the incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Bud McKeon a Republican of California had argued that it was time for a new version of the bill. McKeon contended that the Obama administration lacked legal authority to combat the contemporary versions of al-Qaida located in Yemen and East Africa. He argued that only about one-half of his colleagues at the time had even served in Congress long enough to have had voted on the expansive and open-ended executive war powers. McKeon's efforts stalled and soon failed altogether. At the time, given the new GOP majority in the House, the Obama administration quickly informed McKeon's committee that it wasn't interested in revisiting the AUMF.
The 2001 AUMF was “sufficient to address the existing threats that I’ve seen,” Jeh Johnson, then the Pentagon’s senior lawyer, testified in March 2011.

Formally, Johnson didn’t really explain how a law that was about avenging 9/11 actually allowed Obama to take military action against, say, al-Shebab. But Johnson didn’t make the administration’s real reasons for opposing the AUMF explicit. It was worried that congressional Republicans would write a bill expanding presidential authority to attack terrorist groups unrelated to al-Qaida, something that would expand a global war that the administration was internally growing skeptical about.

President Obama subsequently made his position perfectly clear in the speech given at the National Defense University. But also went further by endorsing at the same time the eventual repeal of the law that he has heavily relied upon to conduct his overall foreign policy.
“I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate,” Obama said. “And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end.”
Well said, Mr. President.

For a peek into what the opposition might look like in coming days, Besides the neocons in Congress, the U.S. military is also expected to push back on any effort to reign in the law.

That’s a position that may not sit well with the U.S. military. During a Senate hearing last week, generals from the Joint Staff and senior Pentagon civilians argued that the AUMF was a necessary law that should remain in place — unchanged. The position satisfied neither Democratic and Independent critics who saw it as a blank check for war nor Republican critics who considered it too restrictive to fight 2013-era terrorism.

The Pentagon's all right with perpetual war. Who knew?

And cue the staff at Rep. McKeon's office:

“The chairman is far from convinced that’s the direction we need to go,” says an aide to McKeon’s committee. “We need to reaffirm our authority with respect to those [al-Qaida] affiliated groups.” What’s more, Obama’s willingness to “ultimately repeal” the AUMF runs right smack into his codification of a more limited counterterrorism war lasting for years. At the National Defense University, Obama simultaneously talked about a longer war and removing his own authorities for waging it.
Nevertheless, Schiff sees this as an opportunity.
“There’s probably bipartisan support for the idea that the existing AUMF is ill-suited to the nature of the threats we face now,” he says. But there’s “probably bipartisan opposition to what would come after,” both from the left and right. Schiff thinks that disagreement means a congressional debate about the future of presidential authority against terrorism is overdue. He intends to kick start one.
Props to Representative Schiff!

He's gonna need our support.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (32+ / 0-)

    "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone" - John Maynard Keynes

    by markthshark on Fri May 24, 2013 at 02:11:05 AM PDT

  •  long overdue (14+ / 0-)

    the aumf is an open-ended blank check. huge kudos to schiff!

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Fri May 24, 2013 at 02:37:40 AM PDT

  •  This HAS to happen... (12+ / 0-)

    And next on the list: the disgraceful NDAA and the opprobrious Patriot Act.

    But the AUMF is a damn good start!

    "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone" - John Maynard Keynes

    by markthshark on Fri May 24, 2013 at 02:38:32 AM PDT

  •  It could be a start. (5+ / 0-)

    I assumed as a given that no president would call for relinquishing any power and authority, yet that appears to be part of what President Obama just said. My concern is that his speech was a legacy speech; in the future it can be pointed back to as the time he tried to curtail the vast governmental mechanizations of continuous war, even as the ongoing expansion of militarization continued unabated.
    I want to believe it's not wishful thinking on my part that other voices join Representative Schiff.

    •  Yes. I guess you could say this is the POTUS... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      willrob, Nowhere Man

      leading, something congress critters and media pundits alike have accused him of not doing.

      Now, Congress should follow.

      "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone" - John Maynard Keynes

      by markthshark on Fri May 24, 2013 at 03:20:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe I'm too skeptical. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        markthshark, Serendipity, native, Odysseus

        When I think of the Pentagon, and how that whole cloth is so tightly woven, I don't know. Military force requires gear and hardware. Those contracts end up in congressional districts everywhere. Not to mention swaying people using the politics of fear. Have enough people wised up? There are so, so many other things we need to get done.
        I'd say there's a hell of a lot riding on this, in a big picture, directional sort of way. At the same time, unraveling the AUMF looks almost impossible.

        •  I do share your concerns... (0+ / 0-)

          The MIC has become almost omnipotent during the latter half of the 20th Century.

          And it's yet to show any signs of enervation in the 21st.

          The People have to really get behind this.

          "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone" - John Maynard Keynes

          by markthshark on Fri May 24, 2013 at 04:30:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Don't forget all of the other profits to be made (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          from having a "war."

          Just having the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA has been such a boon - think of the billions if not trillions we have paid over the last decade.

          Ironically, there was a story recently about someone who "invented" an explosive device detector and made millions only to have it later revealed that the device, purchased by several governments and their security entities, was a complete scam.

          The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinions. James Russell Lowell

          by Serendipity on Fri May 24, 2013 at 05:04:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  If this is successful, it will be a major (5+ / 0-)

    step in returning some sanity and some of the rule of law to our country.  It'll be hard to sunset because it's basically a profit mill for the MIC.  But it REALLY has to go.  Good for Schiff!

    "Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand." ~ Atticus Finch, "To Kill a Mockingbird"

    by SottoVoce on Fri May 24, 2013 at 03:21:08 AM PDT

  •  What the Cons are after is a rotating elected (5+ / 0-)

    kingship in whose name unlimited powers can be exercised by an unelected coterie of supporters (a shadow cabinet?). Since Richard Nixon, in surrendering the position in response to a violation of the law, demostrated or set the precedent that the chief executive is subject to the rule of law, the Cons hit upon the subterfuge of assigning sovereignty under the umbrella of the war powers of the commander-in-chief of the military. Which is why the AUMF was so quick off the block, even before the PATRIOT Act delivered more authority over the domestic population.
    The Cons are about exercising power. While they make obeisance to the 'rule of law,' that's also a subterfuge. What they conveniently leave out of the discussion is that their aim is to employ the law as a tool of subordination, to sustain the hierarchy of authority they require to be sustained. Because, though they are loath to admit it, the Cons are people without practical talents. To put it in common language, they cannot work with their hands; cannot labor to wrest their sustenance from the earth; cannot even understand the material processes men mimic to render to earth more productive. The Cons are, indeed, the people who were postulated by early economists as the driving force of economic behavior -- men driven by wants.
    The Cons are, for the most part, men driven by wants they are unable to satisfy for themselves and must perforce exact from those who can labor. They talk a good game. Truth is their only game is talk. Those that can't do and can't talk have no option but to resort to thievery.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Fri May 24, 2013 at 03:29:14 AM PDT

  •  Tipped and rec'd, and a minor correction (0+ / 0-)

    Please change the word "restrictive" to "restricted". They have nearly opposite meanings.

    Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

    by Nowhere Man on Fri May 24, 2013 at 05:16:26 AM PDT

    •   Never mind (0+ / 0-)

      I'd read it as if it referred to restrictions on citizens, but it seems to refer to restrictions on the military.

      Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

      by Nowhere Man on Fri May 24, 2013 at 05:23:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Any argument that plain old police work has done (3+ / 0-)

    the vast majority of effective "terrorist act interdiction and prevention?" Trillions of dollars, thousands of "installations" across the planet, machinery and software that maps the whole world as just one Integrated Networkcentric Interoperable Global Battlespace, with infinite inputs of data (including our personal formerly private information) to do what, again? Interdict running shoes, crotch appliances and pressure cookers? FAIL after billions spent to be able to detect IEDs (often made with US-built and provided 500-lb bombs and 155mm artillery shells) reliably except by driving or walking over them, BOOOM? And of course there are the carefully framed "It is regretted if errors were made in the extraordinarily careful target selection process" statements when Oooops! it appears that more "bug splats" have appeared on the windscreen...

    Oooooh, and now there's some belated BS in the airwaves, from our President no less, about "reining in" the apparently runaway "Global War on Terror (GWOT)," a phrase and acronym that the Rulers were at least sharp enough to ban from official usage when its so obvious idiocy and inanity became glaringly apparent... or doingsomethingorother to parts of it.

    There's these observations:

    Police work key in war on terror

    He was mocked at the time, but presidential candidate John Kerry was right in 2004 when he said the most effective way to fight terrorism was with enhanced international police work, intelligence sharing and special operations.

    Read more here:

    And these, on the other hand:
    How the War on Terror Has Militarized the Police

    (Recitation of police SWAT murder of former Troop We Support during massive "warrant-serving" assault - same tacticsas the "takedown" of one Osama bin Laden)

    ...Sadly, the Guerenas are not alone; in recent years we have witnessed a proliferation in incidents of excessive, military-style force by police S.W.A.T. teams, which often make national headlines due to their sheer brutality. Why has it become routine for police departments to deploy black-garbed, body-armored S.W.A.T. teams for routine domestic police work? The answer to this question requires a closer examination of post-9/11 U.S. foreign policy and the War on Terror.

    Ever since September 14, 2001, when President Bush declared war on terrorism, there has been a crucial, yet often unrecognized, shift in United States policy. Before 9/11, law enforcement possessed the primary responsibility for combating terrorism in the United States. Today, the military is at the tip of the anti-terrorism spear. This shift appears to be permanent: in 2006, the White House's National Strategy for Combating Terrorism confidently announced that the United States had "broken old orthodoxies that once confined our counterterrorism efforts primarily to the criminal justice domain."

    It's not as sexy and fit for the cover pix on "Popular Mechanix" and you don't get that steady diet of new War Porn, e.g., "Where is the 'Taliban' in this scene, again," from the large library of "Taliban killing" on Youtube, but police work appears to actually work. With some notable exceptions, that are the result of the overlay of careerist bureaucracy and dysfunctional rulers on the footwork and field work of cops and agents, like, oh, that 9-11 thing.

    And once again US troops will be doing a "Vietnamization" thing and having discovered that kicking in doors, trolling for IED explosions, "lighting up" for fun, raping because that's what soldiers often do, assassinating village leaders and supposed "Talibans" -- or "Charlies," or "towelheads" or "hajjis" or whatever the pejorative of the day is (which mostly means "people who kill some of us because we kill some of them, after we invade their country"), whatever the Doctrine du Jour happens to say is the "serious" base of The Mission, sort of does not get us anywhere in the world but hated and ganged up on. But hey, the contractors who get paid to do the logistics will make a killing, transporting all that battered "materiel" back across the Khyber Pass or into the backs of chartered 747s hopefully to be better tied down next time, or whatever resulted in this:

    What are the functional missions of the military plexus and that Homeland Security thing? To make more of themselves, to eat up as much of the Real Wealth as they can get away with behind the smokescreen of "national security" and carefully cultivated and propagated fearfulness.

    Of course there is that extension of that old idiot joke about the guy with the elephant gun stalking around Times Square. Cop asks him "What the heck do you think you are doing with that huge rifle, buddy?"

    "I'm keeping the wild elephants away, obviously," the guy says.

    Cop says, "You freak -- there's not a wild elephant within 5,000 miles of here."

    Guy says, "See? It works! Now let me get back to my patrolling."

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Fri May 24, 2013 at 05:18:48 AM PDT

    •  No question.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And to think, John Kerry wanted to take a similar tact back in 2004 towards terrorism and was vilified for it.

      Any argument that plain old police work has done (1+ / 0-)

      the vast majority of effective "terrorist act interdiction and prevention?"

      Republicans choose the wrong way to do things every time, whether it's war or the economy... or education... or energy... or...

      At least they're consistent.

      "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone" - John Maynard Keynes

      by markthshark on Fri May 24, 2013 at 05:53:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It ain't just Republicans. (2+ / 0-)

        This Vietvet can, from observation over many decades now, pretty confidently state that the diseases of petro-combusto-consumption and imperialism and state-security-ism do not know and are hardly constrained by meaningless political subdivisions, and are endemic to all of us.

        We could do better. We most likely won't.

        "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

        by jm214 on Fri May 24, 2013 at 07:19:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Lindsey Graham fainting from 'the vapors'; 5..4... (1+ / 0-)

    And just think about how difficult it's going to be for 'FAUX and Friends' to come up with a way to equate this with Hitler...

    It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here, what better time than now? - Guerilla Radio, Rage Against The Machine.

    by Fordmandalay on Fri May 24, 2013 at 07:18:45 AM PDT

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