Some senators seeking AUMF revisions

Rick Moran
The Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) resolution may be tweaked if some senators get their way.

There are a host of revisions desired by liberals, conservatives, and libertarians that, according to Politico, would give both the White House and congressional leadership "heartburn":

Top senators in both parties have begun talks to revise the congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to lawmakers and aides involved in the discussions.

Though in its early stages, such a debate could cause serious heartburn for the White House and party leaders seeking to push through any revised use-of-force resolution. A Senate floor fight over replacing the 9/11 resolution could lead to broader political battles on critical areas of President Barack Obama's national security policy, including the war in Afghanistan, the use of armed drone attacks against suspected terrorists, treatment of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, and the scope of the president's authority as commander-in-chief to combat terrorism worldwide.

The bipartisan Senate talks also come at a time when Obama is catching flak for his aggressive drone policy, and Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) 13-hour filibuster on the issue struck a chord with some members of both parties.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.), and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) met recently to discuss the issue, the senators and their aides said.

Other senators involved in the talks include Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Corker is the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Levin has scheduled a May 16 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the matter.

Levin, who has already announced his retirement at the end of this Congress, was tight-lipped when approached on Monday about his upcoming hearing and his discussions with Durbin and McCain.

"The whole issue is a very complex issue," Levin said. "It's the complexity of the issue that needs to be dealt with."

At stake is whether the 9/11 resolution is still relevant more than 12 years after it was adopted by Congress in the wake of the attacks by al Qaeda terrorists on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Those attacks prompted an American-led invasion of Afghanistan, a military campaign that is still ongoing and could last for years longer, even after U.S. combat forces leave the troubled country in 2014.

Liberals have been itching to make changes in the AUMF for years. And some conservatives and libertarians like Rand Paul and Mike Lee want to revise the drone policy to protect American citizens and provide oversight that is lacking now.

In truth, AUMF empowered the executive at the expense of congress. But some liberals are seeking to emasculate the president by tying his hands in responding to threats around the world.

That's why these negotiations will be so sensitive. The goal will be to revise AUMF without making it too difficult for a president to act if he believes there is a threat. But even if the Armed Services Committee comes up with a package of reforms, there is no guarantee that the rest of the senate will accept them - or the House. Many lawmakers believe it is better to leave AUMF alone. That view has a good chance of prevailing at this point.


The Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) resolution may be tweaked if some senators get their way.

There are a host of revisions desired by liberals, conservatives, and libertarians that, according to Politico, would give both the White House and congressional leadership "heartburn":

Top senators in both parties have begun talks to revise the congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to lawmakers and aides involved in the discussions.

Though in its early stages, such a debate could cause serious heartburn for the White House and party leaders seeking to push through any revised use-of-force resolution. A Senate floor fight over replacing the 9/11 resolution could lead to broader political battles on critical areas of President Barack Obama's national security policy, including the war in Afghanistan, the use of armed drone attacks against suspected terrorists, treatment of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, and the scope of the president's authority as commander-in-chief to combat terrorism worldwide.

The bipartisan Senate talks also come at a time when Obama is catching flak for his aggressive drone policy, and Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) 13-hour filibuster on the issue struck a chord with some members of both parties.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.), and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) met recently to discuss the issue, the senators and their aides said.

Other senators involved in the talks include Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Corker is the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Levin has scheduled a May 16 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the matter.

Levin, who has already announced his retirement at the end of this Congress, was tight-lipped when approached on Monday about his upcoming hearing and his discussions with Durbin and McCain.

"The whole issue is a very complex issue," Levin said. "It's the complexity of the issue that needs to be dealt with."

At stake is whether the 9/11 resolution is still relevant more than 12 years after it was adopted by Congress in the wake of the attacks by al Qaeda terrorists on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Those attacks prompted an American-led invasion of Afghanistan, a military campaign that is still ongoing and could last for years longer, even after U.S. combat forces leave the troubled country in 2014.

Liberals have been itching to make changes in the AUMF for years. And some conservatives and libertarians like Rand Paul and Mike Lee want to revise the drone policy to protect American citizens and provide oversight that is lacking now.

In truth, AUMF empowered the executive at the expense of congress. But some liberals are seeking to emasculate the president by tying his hands in responding to threats around the world.

That's why these negotiations will be so sensitive. The goal will be to revise AUMF without making it too difficult for a president to act if he believes there is a threat. But even if the Armed Services Committee comes up with a package of reforms, there is no guarantee that the rest of the senate will accept them - or the House. Many lawmakers believe it is better to leave AUMF alone. That view has a good chance of prevailing at this point.