In 2001, after the World Trade towers had fallen and the smoke had cleared congress convened to vote on the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to give President Bush the power to retaliate against those who were responsible. The vote passed in the House of Representatives 420 to 1. The hold out was Congresswoman Barbara Lee who decried the authorization as giving Bush and future presidents unchecked powers to wage war.
She was right. In the 16 years since its passing, Republican and Democratic administrations have used the AUMF to engage in military action far outside of what it was originally intended - to retaliate against those who attacked us after 9/11 - specifically the Taliban in Afghanistan. Since then, the 2001 bill has been used to justify combat in countries as far from Afghanistan as the Philippines, Kenya and Iraq.
The 01 AUMF is still in effect today. This week, president Trump announced - with shockingly few specifics - that the US would boost troop levels in Afghanistan and suggested that our military forces may be in Afghanistan indefinitely.
The president, who once supported withdrawal - now says the US will “adopt a conditions-based approach to the war without a specific timetable.” The fact that the United States longest war could be extended even longer has not only disappointed supporters and detractors alike, but riled politicians - both Republican and Democrat.
Currently there is a bipartisan effort to curtail the President’s war powers by updating the AUMF to apply to the current threats America faces. The repeal and updated law would more strictly define what the president can and can’t do when defending our country in war. If we allow Trump - or future presidents - to continue to justify war with the blank check that is the 2001 AUMF we are committing our nation’s soldiers to a war that we may never see the end of.
America can’t afford 16 more years of conflict and we cannot afford to give unquestioned war powers to Trump. It is time to update the AUMF and make sure that Congress does its job by putting limits on the president’s powers. Sign the petition and tell Congress to pass a new Authorization.