When a trio of lawmakers introduced legislation in July restricting presidential powers to wage war, they said reforms were needed because the executive branch got out of hand with the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), passed in response to 9/11. terrorist attacks.
“Today we have combat units in more than half a dozen countries around the world, and Congress is not discussing this,” Senator Chris Murphy (Democrat from Connecticut) said at the time, arguing that the 2001 AUMF was used to justify military operations in the United States. seven countries.
A new article from the Brown University Cost of War project shows that the 2001 AUMF was used to justify a much broader set of hostilities than the combat operations that Murphy refers to. Since then, the 2001 AUMF has been used to justify military action in at least 22 countries, according to a December 14 report.
“Since the passing of the 2001 AUMF, the Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden administrations have invoked this authorization … in an increasing number of countries to fight a growing number of militant groups, including al-Qaeda and other groups that were subsequently identified by government officials. as arising out of this, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Shabaab in Somalia, ”said the report by Stephanie Savell, co-director of the Costs of War Project.
“All four administrations have referred to the 2001 AUMF using vague language to describe the locations of operations, not being able to accurately describe the full scope of activities in many locations, and in some cases simply not reporting on the fighting against terrorism.”
The report said the 2001 AUMF was used to justify counter-terrorism operations or airstrikes in eight countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Djibouti. In addition, the permit has been used in numerous counter-terrorism “support” activities in 13 countries, including Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya and Turkey.
The report says the 2001 AUMF is also being used to justify ongoing operations in Guantanamo Bay.
According to the report, most of the executive’s reports on the use of AUFM 2001 are incomplete. This is the case with the Obama administration’s operations in Libya, the report said.
“In 2013, the Obama administration announced that [to Congress] that in Libya, “the US military captured an al-Qaeda member” referring to the accused al-Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Libi, but did not mention the ongoing US airstrike campaign, although the US launched three strikes against militants in Libya in the same year, “the message says.
“On other occasions, the executive has reported ‘support for counter-terrorism operations’ but has not acknowledged that US troops have been or may be involved in fighting militants,” the report said.
“For example, in Niger in 2017, four US troops were killed in an ambush while attempting to raid militant territory, but President Trump only quoted AUMF after the incident became known,” it said. “Another example is citing ‘support’ for CT operations in Kenya, but refusing to acknowledge a combat incident in January 2020 when Al-Shabaab fighters attacked a US military base in Manda Bay and killed three Americans.”
The report warns that a lack of accountability from the executive branch could leave Congress blind to the possibility that the United States could “slide into conflict in a number of African countries.”
The bill, introduced by Senator Murphy, Mike Lee (Rhode Utah) and Bernie Sanders (Washington), would have changed this situation, but did not get co-sponsors. Likewise, the 1991 and 2002 AUMF abolition laws against Iraq were reportedly dropped from the National Defense Act 2022 (NDAA) despite receiving over 26 c-sponsors and 60 votes – and despite being that the House of Representatives passed a similar law in June.
Murphy said in July that he knows the case is facing a tough battle as the law will not be backed by the executive branch.
“Do I expect the Biden administration to issue a statement of support for this law, or will it seek to sign it? No, Murphy said then. “But we hope this law … will spark a debate in Congress that can inspire us to use our powers to make sure we declare war properly.”