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Senate Panel Says It's Time For A New AUMF To Rein In Presidential War Power
WASHINGTON — As global threats to the United States escalate, Congress will need a new war authorization to remain relevant in current and future military engagements, a Senate panel said Wednesday.
The hearing was one in a series of committee hearings held in the last several months to re-examine, and potentially rein in, the president’s authority to use military force, or AUMF, powers.
On Wednesday, some lawmakers signaled President Donald Trump’s administration appears to be running amok as far as such war powers are concerned.
“The Trump national security team is greatly expanding the deployment of U.S. military forces on the ground worldwide with minimal congressional consultation, minimal buy-in from the American people… and minimal transparency,” said Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the committee’s ranking Democrat.
The president’s current war powers were issued in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and 2002 when the United States went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The 2001 and 2002 AUMFs gave the president wide-ranging authority to direct the military to fight terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, the Taliban and Islamic State around the world.
Since that time, the military has operated under those authorizations in more than a dozen countries.
“We need to write new (war) authorization … to make legal for Congress to weigh in on what the administration is already doing, to make us relevant,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the committee chairman. “It’s kind of an odd thing.”
Concern about the current war authorizations has been debated for years, but it has reached a fevered pitch in recent months in light of recent, deadly military encounters, such as the attack in Niger on Nov. 4 that left four soldiers dead, and the rising tensions with North Korea.
Trump “might even seek a nuclear-first strike, …and we would have to rely on the strength, character and bravery of those with the military responsibility for carrying out that attack to question its legality,” Cardin said about North Korea. “We have a president who has a reckless self-confidence of his own instincts and makes decisions without relying on his own advisers.”
Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser for former President George W. Bush, testified Wednesday that the White House and Congress should already be in talks to address the North Korea military strategy, if one is to be executed.
“The North Korea situation is so grave that Congress and the president should be having conversations now, and continuing,” he said.
Hadley and John Bellinger III, former national security council attorney for the Bush administration, agreed Congress could preempt presidential military action against North Korea by issuing a new war authority and setting parameters for any potential encounter.
“The war powers resolution is outdated,” Bellinger said. “And it should be revised.”
But how the war authorizations should be revised remains a question.
A slew of House and Senate members have proposed a variety of approaches, as less than one-third of the Congress serving today was involved in the current war authorizations.
Among the proposals, some lawmakers have said it’s time to replace the president’s war powers with one that has time or geographical limits.
Still, Christine Wormuth, former undersecretary of defense for policy for former President Barack Obama, warned transparency remains critical, especially as the military effort expands around the world.
“I personally worry that the U.S. military has been carrying a very heavy burden for many years now,” she said. “And that an imbalance has crept into how we address foreign policy challenges.”
©2017 the Stars and Stripes
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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.
The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.
Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.
Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.
There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.