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Of all the weapons the United States carries in its military arsenal, its most powerful might be the 2001 congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force. The post-9/11 blank check to fight evildoers covers everything: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iraq-Syria, Syria, the other thing we’re doing in Syria now, and a bunch of stuff in between. Invocations of the AUMF have gotten so out of hand, according to some critics, that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding a hearing today to determine if Congress should start slapping down the executive’s reliance on it.
Having trouble keeping track of everything the 2001 AUMF justifies? We’ve ranked all the conflicts in one easy post, with additional background for the instances that may be less familiar to you.
Behold, conflicts justified under the 2001 AUMF, ranked:
1. Combat action against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan
2. Conducting secure detention operations in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
3. Military operations in Iraq under the Multinational Force in Iraq
4. Offensive operations to deny the enemy territory on Alderaan
Rebel fighters rallied behind a tribal princess with proven connections to the outlawed Jedi paramilitary force and their royal financiers on Alderaan. Our justifiable preemptive strike led the rebels to execute their desperation attack and surprise victory in the Battle of Yavin. The Empire reserved the right under the original AUMF to broaden its strikes wherever the terrorists may seek refuge, and has done so with annexations of Hoth and the Cloud City systems, known rebellion strongholds.
The application of the 2001 AUMF to intergalactic rebels was controversial, since the rebellion occurred a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. But Imperial lawyers argue that the use of space-time disruptions for hyperspace travel has rendered moot the concept of absolute time with respect to legal authorizations of force.
- Foreign military training, advising, assisting in the Philippines
- Foreign military training and equipping in Georgia
- Foreign military training and equipping in Yemen
6. Operations to capture or kill NEXUS-6 N6MAA10816, aka ‘Roy Batty’
Politically sensitive operations to kill rogue replicants living among us have long been a national security priority for the United States government. N6MAA10816 was identified as a terrorist cell leader with sensitive knowledge of allied military vulnerabilities, particularly tactical capabilities of attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion and the patterns of C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
AUMF permitted NORTHCOM to move quickly on this threat. Mission accomplished.
7. Deployment to Djibouti for activities against Al Qaeda and other terrorists in Horn of Africa
8. War of the Elves and Sauron
American military leadership made it clear that when One Ring emerged to rule them all, it could not fall into the hands of any state actor aligned with terror. Consequently, we partnered with an existing indigenous ground force of elves and other allied groups to oppose the dark army of Sauron.
After securing Gondor, the forces of men left behind a protectorate to guarantee self-rule in Middle Earth.
9. The Pushcart War
A homegrown cell of terrorists targeting commercial traffic in New York City was a worst-case scenario for the U.S. security establishment. Thanks to the AUMF and a timely suspension of posse comitatus, secure-and-hold operations proved highly successful in stopping the pea-shooter attacks on our brave convoy drivers.
10. Maritime interception operations on the high seas in the areas of responsibility of all of the geographic combatant commanders
11. Deployments to enhance counterterrorism capabilities of “friends and allies”
12. Battle of Hogwarts
The U.S. Department of Defense neither confirms nor denies the existence of wizardry. A classified annex to this report provides further information.
13. Bellum omnium contra omnes
Latin for “the war of all against all,” this is natural the state of human existence, absent a Leviathan to exercise violence against civilization’s discontents, according to Early Modern English political theorist Thomas Hobbes.
The AUMF establishes the legitimate use of U.S. force against these anti-coalition extremists wherever they may hide, ensuring that their lives are nasty, brutish, and short.
- Direct military action in Somalia against al Qaeda/al Shabab
- Deployment of combat aircraft and personnel to Turkey for anti-ISIL strikes
15. The Butter Battle
Tensions ran hot. Talks went to pot. When the Yooks and the Zooks built WMDs, tolerate it we could not.
16. Systematic campaign of airstrikes and other necessary actions against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) in Iraq and Syria
17. Ongoing operations to contain Eastasian expansion
We have always been at war with Eastasia. The AUMF merely codifies that.
18. Ongoing operations to contain Eurasian expansion
We have always been at war with Eurasia. The AUMF merely codifies that.
19 - 37. [Name withheld]
Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.