House Dems protest GOP's plans for permanent war against terror
A Tuesday letter from House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and 32 other Democrats argues that affirming continued war against terrorist forces goes too far, giving too much authority to the president without debate in Congress.
"By declaring a global war against nameless individuals, organizations and nations 'associated' with the Taliban and al Qaeda, as well as those playing a supporting role in their efforts, the Detainee Security Act would appear to grant the president near unfettered authority to initiate military action around the world without further congressional approval," Democrats wrote. "Such authority must not be ceded to the president without careful deliberation from Congress."
The specific language in the bill is found in section 1034 of H.R. 1540, which affirms that the U.S. is "engaged in an armed conflict with al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces." It also affirms that the president has the authority to detain "certain belligerents" until the armed conflict is over.
"Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces still pose a grave threat to U.S. national security," the bill says. "The Authorization for Use of Military Force necessarily includes the authority to address the continuing and evolving threat posed by these groups."
Democrats wrote to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and asked him to hold hearings on these proposals before including them in the NDAA, particularly given the recent killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
But Republicans are not expected to consider that request. Instead, McKeon is expected to hold a markup Wednesday morning to grant committee approval of the bill.
New Authorization of Worldwide War Without End?http://www.aclu.org/new-authorization-worldwide-war-without-end
Congress may soon vote on a new declaration of worldwide war without end, and without clear enemies. A “sleeper provision” deep inside defense bills pending before Congress could become the single biggest hand-over of unchecked war authority from Congress to the executive branch in modern American history.
President Obama has not sought new war authority. In fact, his administration has made clear that it believes it already has all of the authority that it needs to fight terrorism.
But Congress is considering monumental new legislation that would grant the president – and all presidents after him – sweeping new power to make war almost anywhere and everywhere. Unlike previous grants of authority for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the proposed legislation would allow a president to use military force wherever terrorism suspects are present in the world, regardless of whether there has been any harm to U.S. citizens, or any attack on the United States, or any imminent threat of an attack. The legislation is broad enough to permit a president to use military force within the United States and against American citizens. The legislation contains no expiration date, and no criteria to determine when a president’s authority to use military force would end.