Pentagon officials claimed President Obama and future presidents have the power to send troops anywhere in the world to fight groups linked to al-Qaeda, based in part on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by Congress days after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Speaking at the first Senate hearing on rewriting the AUMF, Pentagon officials specifically said troops could be sent to Syria, Yemen and the Congo without new congressional authorization.
Michael Sheehan, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, predicted the war against al-Qaeda would last at least 10 to 20 more years. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) challenged the Pentagon’s interpretation of the Constitution and that the entire world is a battlefield.
“This is the most astounding and astoundingly disturbing hearing I have been to since I have been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today,” King said. “You guys have invented this term, associated forces, that’s nowhere in this document. It’s the justification for everything, and it renders the war powers of Congress null and void.”
This excerpt of the hearing includes Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Robert Taylor, Acting General Counsel Department of Defense; Michael Sheehan, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict Department of Defense and Sen. Angus Kign (I-Maine).
Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield,” discussed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force during a recent Democracy Now! interview.
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