Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on the AUMF after Iraq and Afghanistan

This morning at 10:00am, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding an important hearing on the future of the AUMF after Iraq and Afghanistan.  Testifying before the committee are Stephen Preston (General Counsel, Department of Defense) and Mary Mcleod (Principal Deputy Legal Adviser, Department of State), Harold Koh (former State Department Legal Adviser and Just Security contributor) and Michael Mukasey (former Attorney General of the United States).

Harold has provided a copy of his written testimony (full text) for interested Just Security readers.  His written testimony begins:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, for inviting me before this Committee today. I am Sterling Professor of International Law at the Yale Law School, where since 1985, I have taught international law, national security law, and the law of U.S. foreign relations.1 For ten years, I served in the U.S. Government, most recently from 2009 to 2013 as Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State. Having worked daily during my time as Legal Adviser on counterterrorism issues, I appear today to support the President’s commitment, stated in his important speech at the National Defense University last May, to “continue to fight terrorism without keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing.”

When President Obama took office, the United States was engaged in congressionally authorized armed conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and against Al Qaeda and its co-belligerents. Since then, the Iraq conflict has ended. The President has declared his intent to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of this calendar year.

Today, let me explain why, after Iraq and Afghanistan, this country’s counterterrorism policy should include three important and achievable elements of the President’s NDU proposal: ending the war with Al Qaeda and its co-belligerents; repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) enacted on September 18, 2001; and prior to repeal, narrowing the AUMF’s mandate. I agree with the President first, that the armed conflict that began against Al Qaeda and its co-belligerents nearly thirteen years ago, “like all wars, must end;” second, that Congress should aim to “ultimately repeal, the mandate” of the AUMF; and third, that in the interim, Congress should explore ways to narrow the AUMF rather than “to expand the AUMF’s mandate further.”

Stayed tuned from further commentary on Just Security after the hearing concludes. 

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About the Author(s)

Thomas Earnest

Former Managing Editor of Just Security (2013-14) Follow him on Twitter (@thomasdearnest).