White House Open to Revising War Powers as a Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduces Bill to Repeal Iraq AUMFs
Dave DeCamp / AntiWar
(March 5, 2021) — In the face of a new push in Congress to revise the Executive Branch’s war powers, the White House is signaling it is willing to cooperate on the issue.
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA). The legislation would repeal two authorizations for the use of military force (AUMF) for Iraq, the 1991 AUMF passed for the Gulf War, and the 2002 AUMF used for the Iraq invasion.
“We are committed to working with Congress to ensure that the authorizations for the use of military force currently on the books are replaced with a narrow and specific framework that will ensure we can protect Americans from terrorist threats while ending the forever wars,” Psaki wrote on Twitter.
One AUMF not addressed in Kaine’s bill is the 2001 AUMF that was passed for the war in Afghanistan and kicked off the War on Terror. The 2001 AUMF is by far the most abused and is still used today to fight ISIS, a group that didn’t exist when it was passed.
Earlier this week, Senator Kaine said Congress should reform the 2001 AUMF instead of repealing it, something the White House agrees with. Psaki told reporters on Friday that President Biden “agrees that the AUMF has been around for 20 years and it’s long overdue for it to be updated.”
The renewed focus on the AUMFs was sparked by Biden’s decision to bomb Syria last week. In a letter to Congress, President Biden did not cite a specific AUMF as the legal justification for the strike. Instead, he somehow claimed “self-defense” and said the action was within his legal authority as Commander in Chief.
The Trump administration had cited the 2002 Iraq AUMF as legal justification for the January 2020 assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad.
Biden Orders Temporary Limits on Drone Strikes Outside of War Zones
The Administration Is Reviewing US Counterterrorism Operations
(March 5, 2021) — President Biden has imposed temporary limits on drone strikes, and covert raids in country’s outside of major war zones as the new administration reviews the policies left by the Trump administration.
The limits mean the CIA and military must get permission from the White House before they carry out drone strikes or raids in places the US does not have a major military presence, like Somalia and Yemen. The limits don’t apply to Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan.
The Biden administration has not announced these limits. The move was reported this week by The New York Times and The Washington Post. According to the reports, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan imposed the limits on January 20th, the day President Biden was inaugurated.
The Trump administration loosened the rules of engagement for counterterrorism operations and airstrikes, giving the military more authority. This resulted in a record number of US airstrikes and raids in Somalia and Yemen.
According to the reports, the Trump-era rules did not require permission from the White House to carry out kill or capture missions. But the CIA or military did need the approval of the US ambassador in whichever country they were operating in.
The limits on drone strikes are part of the Biden administration’s broader review of US counterterrorism operations. According to National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne, Biden has issued interim rules for the terror wars in the meantime.
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