The objective wouldn't be "drop a new
Authorization to Use Military Force, but to reaffirm and strengthen the
existing one," says an aide to McKeon who requested anonymity,
"recognizing that the enemy has changed geographically and evolved
I'm thoroughly unsurprised by this. As I pointed out
the other day, if we're going to hold Khalid Sheikh Mohammed solely
using the justification of the AUMF, then we're going to want to make
sure that AUMF is designed to last forever; otherwise, KSM would be
entitled to get out when-for example-we withdraw from Afghanistan.
Frankly, I expect the Administration will be happy to be forced to
accept another AUMF, because it'll get them out of some really terrible
arguments they've been making as they try to apply the AUMF to detention
situations it clearly doesn't apply to.
But there are two other aspects to a "reaffirmed and strengthened"
AUMF. As McKeon's aide notes, the enemy has changed geographically,
moving to Yemen and Somalia. A new AUMF will make it easier to build the new bases in Yemen they're planning.
The U.S. is preparing for an expanded
campaign against al Qaeda in Yemen, mobilizing military and
intelligence resources to enable Yemeni and American strikes and
drawing up a longer-term proposal to establish Yemeni bases in remote
areas where militants operate.
And I would bet that the AUMF is drafted broadly enough to allow
drone strikes anywhere the government decides it sees a terrorist.
Which brings us to the most insidious part of a call for a new AUMF:
the "homeland." The AUMF serves or has served as the basis for the
government's expanded powers in the US, to do things like wiretap
Americans. Now that the Republicans know all the powers the government
might want to use against US persons domestically, do you really think
they will resist the opportunity to write those powers into an AUMF
(whether through vagueness or specificity), so as to avoid the
quadrennial review and debate over the PATRIOT Act (not to mention the
oversight currently exercised by DOJ's Inspector General)? The only
matter of suspense, for me, is what role they specify for drones
Remember, John Yoo once wrote an OLC memo claiming that because of
the nature of this war the military could operate in the US with no
limitations by the Fourth Amendment. That memo remained in effect for
seven years. We know where they want to go with this permanent war