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Presidential 'Blank Check for War' Wielded Thirty Times, and Counting

Public report fails to account for lethal drones, surveillance, unlimited detention, and other acts of war justified under AUMF

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Together Presidents Bush and Obama have wielded the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) 30 times against an alleged "nation, person, or organization" affiliated with the attacks of September 11, according to new public disclosures.

The memorandum—which provides the first, full public accounting of times the AUMF has been cited—was compiled by the Congressional Research Service and released by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).

"I have been deeply concerned about this overly-broad blank check for war,” said Lee, who was the only member of Congress to vote against the AUMF following September 11. “[I]t gives any president the nearly unlimited authority to wage limitless war at anytime, anywhere, for any reason, in perpetuity."

The report falls short, however, in that it only indicates occasions which were publicly reported and not those that the US government may have deemed 'covert' or 'classified.'


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“We don’t know the further, full extent, including the ongoing use of lethal drones, surveillance, unlimited detention, and other actions where the AUMF has been used as justification,” Lee continues.

The text of section two of the AUMF reads as follows:

(a) In General— That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.


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