The US Senate voted 66-30 on 29 March to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that allowed former president George W. Bush to launch a military invasion of Iraq under false claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The bill is now headed to the Republican-led House of Representatives, where it remains unclear if lawmakers will put it on the floor for a vote.
“Congress has abdicated its powers to the executive for too long,” said Senator Tim Kaine, who over the past several years has authored the Senate’s efforts to repeal the Iraq AUMF. “Presidents can do mischief if there are outdated authorizations on the books,” he added.
If the bill passes a vote on the House of floor — and is signed by President Joe Biden — it will be the first repeal of a war authorization since 1974.
Nonetheless, just last week, the US Senate overwhelmingly voted against repealing the original AUMF, which was signed into law on 18 September, 2001 by George W. Bush in response to the 11 September attacks.
As opposed to the Iraq AUMF, the 2001 AUMF is seen as a more sweeping, blank-check legislation that was passed to target the alleged perpetrators of the 11 September attacks.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the 2001 AUMF has been used to justify more than 40 military interventions in at least 22 countries without the approval of Congress.
In the years after 2001, the US Congress also approved so-called ‘security cooperation authorities‘ (SCA) that have allowed the Pentagon to covertly deploy troops and wage secret wars in dozens of countries across the globe.
According to a report by the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice, the SCA allows the Pentagon to “train and equip foreign forces anywhere in the world” and to “provide support to foreign forces, paramilitaries, and private individuals who are in turn supporting US counterterrorism operations,” with a spending limit of $100,000,000 per fiscal year.
As a result of this, in dozens of countries, these programs have been used as a springboard for hostilities, with the Pentagon declining to inform Congress or the US public about their secret operations.
“Researchers and reporters uncovered [SCA] programs not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen,” the report highlights.
Christopher C. Miller, a former acting head of the Pentagon, said in his memoir released last month that the US should be held accountable for the failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The US military-industrial complex has grown into a hydra-headed monster with almost no controls on the American war machine,” Miller writes.
In an interview with The Hill, Miller went on to say that, “We invaded a sovereign nation, killed and maimed a lot of Iraqis, and lost some of the greatest American patriots to ever live — all for a goddamned lie.”
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