Congress Is Pretending To Be Productive
Jeff Schogol / Task & Purpose
(June 19, 2021) — In the news business, we call certain stories “evergreens” because they are essentially always true. One example of this kind of story is “Congress does something pointless, again.”
Full disclosure: My faith in elected leaders died when I began covering municipal meetings years ago, spending hours listening to township supervisors argue about stormwater runoff while the bored reporter sitting next to me scrawled Bruce Springsteen lyrics in his notebook.
But Congress always manages to find a way to take the art of wasting time into a Banzai Charge of bulls**t. To wit: Lawmakers are close to repealing the wrongauthorization for use of military force in a symbolic half-measure that will do nothing to end the Forever Wars.
On June 17, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the 2002 authorization for use of military force that allowed then-President George W. Bush to order the invasion of Iraq. The Senate is also expected to vote on the matter this year, according to the Washington Post.
The law that Congress may repeal describes “Iraq’s ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction” as continuing threats to US national security. (Narrator’s voice: None of that is true.)
Since Saddam Hussein is dead; his alleged stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons turned out to be fantasies; and Saddam’s supposed ties with Al Qaeda proved to be lies, it would appear that the 2002 AUMF has been largely irrelevant since all US troops left Iraq at the end of 2011.
Granted: In August 2014, then-President Barack Obama initially cited the 2002 AUMF among his legal justifications for ordering military action against the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria; but his administration eventually presented Congress with a report that argued the war against ISIS was legal under the 2001 authorization for use of military force — also known as the father of the Forever Wars.
The 2001 AUMF has allowed every president over the past two decades to wage war without congressional approval by providing the legal justification to conduct military operations against, “those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons” — which has been repeatedly interpreted to include any terrorist group that is even loosely connected to Al Qaeda.
The Obama administration argued that ISIS was the latest iteration of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which had either been part of the main Al Qaeda terrorist group or an associated force, a 2017 Congressional Research Service report found. The fact that ISIS and Al Qaeda were rivals at the time did not seem to make much of a difference.
The 2001 AUMF has also been used to justify airstrikes against ISIS in Libya as well as counter-terrorism operations in the Philippines, Yemen, and elsewhere across the world. In other words: It’s the mighty spring that has driven the Post 9/11 wars.
Some people might say that if Congress ultimately repeals the 2002 AUMF, it would be a good first step toward ultimately getting rid of the 2001 AUMF, which actually matters. I am not one of those people.
For whatever it’s worth: It looks to me as if Congress is trying to get out of its job by pretending to be productive. Imagine if I tried doing this at my job
EDITOR: Jeff, how’s that story coming?
ME: Well, I haven’t done any “work” on it per se, but I have managed to create a really cool meme that we could post instead.
ME: It’s a topical meme that analyzes the relationship between Batman and Catwoman. Hint: They are doing the deed.
You could only imagine how well that would go over.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.