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Senate Vote Falls Short Of Repealing AUMF
In a narrow vote Wednesday that showed lawmakers’ lingering unease, the Senate declined to repeal the authorization Congress gave for military action after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The effort to repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force failed, 61-36, with 13 Democrats joining most Republicans to reject it.
But the vote, which backers called the first in the Senate since the war authorization was approved, expressed the weariness among lawmakers concerning the military involvement abroad.
A sturdy coalition of liberal Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans has increasingly pushed Congress to revisit the authority granted after the attacks, which presidents have relied on ever since for military actions against terrorists.
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 13, 2017
Several senators remained undecided just moments before the vote. Three Republicans supported it.
“The war has long since lost its purpose,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who led the repeal effort.
Paul has long situated himself apart from traditional GOP defense hawks, notably Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and argued that the initial war authorizations, first approved in 2001 for the operation in Afghanistan, and then in 2002 for Iraq, should no longer be allowed to cover the expanded fight against terrorism and Islamic State that has taken U.S. involvement far from those initial battlefields.
“Let’s have a debate about all these different wars,” Paul said before the vote. “Let’s not just muddle on and say the president can do whatever he wants.”
The authorizations would have expired in six months under his amendment, part of a broader defense bill making its way through Congress. The delay was designed to allow time for Congress to revisit the issue and provide a new war authorization, as many lawmakers in the House and Senate have said is needed.
Republicans and even key Democrats raised concerns about repealing the authorization without a replacement, particularly while troops remain active in the field.
“We can’t replace something with nothing, and we have nothing,” said Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a former military officer and the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Reed warned that the vote would lead allies and enemies to question the U.S. commitment to fighting terrorism abroad.
But senators of both parties have grown increasingly uncomfortable at what some see as ceding their congressional authority to authorize military activity to the executive branch.
Some have argued that money spent abroad would be better invested at home, while others remain committed to a strong military stance against terrorism overseas.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who said he recently returned from visiting troops in Afghanistan and grew even more supportive of U.S. involvement, nevertheless was among those openly undecided ahead of the vote.
“I hate to say this,” Moran said during the debate. “I don’t know what the right answer to this question is.” He voted against repeal.
Paul has labored for years to bring a vote forward, and threatened to stall the broader defense bill, which sets policy and pay for the troops and is routinely approved by Congress every year.
The vote came after Monday marked the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
©2017 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.
The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.
During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.
"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."
"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."
Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.
Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.
Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.
Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."
"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.
For one veteran who fought through the crossfires of German heavy machine guns in the D-Day landings, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of his service and that of his World War II comrades would be "quite meaningful."
Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to award the Army Rangers of World War II the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
An airman at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was arrested and charged with murder on Sunday after a shooting at a Raleigh night club that killed a 21-year-old man, the Air Force and the Raleigh Police Department said.