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Congresswoman Barbara Lee Warns Corker-Kaine AUMF Would Expand, Not Curb, Trump's Ability To Wage Endless War

"The last thing President Trump needs is a renewed open-ended authorization that gives him a blank check to perpetuate endless war, which is exactly what this proposed bill represents."

Saying she has "grave concerns" about the bill introduced by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) on Tuesday warned it "would continue all current military operations, allow any president to unilaterally expand our wars, and effectively consent to endless war by omitting any sunset date or geographic constraints for our ongoing operations." (Image: ACLU)

Joining others who have already made their opposition clear, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)—who in 2001 was the sole member of Congress to vote against the original Authorization for Use of Military Force in the wake of the the 9/11 attacks—is raising her voice once more against a bi-partisan proposal introduced this week that she says would only strengthen, not curb, the "blank check for war" that Congress has bestowed on the president.

Saying she has "grave concerns" about the bill introduced by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Lee on Tuesday warned it "would continue all current military operations, allow any president to unilaterally expand our wars, and effectively consent to endless war by omitting any sunset date or geographic constraints for our ongoing operations."

Read the text of the bill—officially titled "The Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2018"—here (pdf).

According to Lee, the legislation actually "further limits Congress's role in warmaking by requiring a veto-proof majority to block military action from the president."

Not alone in her opposition, Amnesty International on Tuesday also came out strongly against the Corker-Kaine bill.

"Since 2001, the U.S. has been operating as if the world is a permanent battlefield, at the costs of thousands of lives, including large numbers of civilians," the group declared. "Despite this, President Trump has reportedly expanded authority for air strikes outside of war zones, and expressed shockingly callous disregard for civilian casualties. The last thing President Trump needs is a renewed open-ended authorization that gives him a blank check to perpetuate endless war, which is exactly what this proposed bill represents."

In addition to groups calling on constituents to demand their elected representatives oppose the bill, both the ACLU and Win Without War are floating petitions they intend to present to Congress:

Not only must the new AUMF be rejected, Amnesty said, but the existing authorizations—the first from 2001 and then a second one passed in 2002—must also be repealed.

The "seemingly limitless interpretation" of those AUMFs, the group said "has led to a widespread violation of human rights, from indefinite detention and torture to unlawful drone strikes. If Congress does not get this right, it will repeat the mistakes of the original authorization and bear responsibility for further abuses."

And as Lee concluded, "Over the last sixteen years, we have witnessed the consequences of unfettered executive power in matters of war. Instead of further endorsing perpetual war, we need to insist on an AUMF that is narrow, clearly defined, and respects Congress's constitutional duty to debate and authorize military action."

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