Senators Have a New Plan to Expand Indefinite Detention and Endless Global War

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse with this Congress, a bipartisan pair of senators have teamed up to write the single most dangerous piece of unconstitutional legislation of this Congress. 

Last week, Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced S. Res. 59, which is a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). An AUMF is roughly the modern equivalent of a declaration of war, and the Corker-Kaine AUMF gives President Trump and lots of future presidents the authority to take the country to war against an endless list of groups and individuals in an endless list of countries. 

The result will be true global war without end.

The two senators wanted to get a quick vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week and have the bill rocket through the Senate and House and onto the president’s desk. Fortunately for all of us, senators from both parties, from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to Sen. Jeff Merkely (D-Ore.), forced a slowdown. But Corker and Kaine are working overtime to try to jam through their AUMF, which is a dumpster fire of bad ideas.

Here are just some of the harms packed into their proposed AUMF:

It immediately authorizes war against eight groups. With literally no strategic or operational restrictions, the Corker-Kaine AUMF authorizes immediate war against eight groups in six countries. The American military could be sent into battle in countries such as Libya, Somalia, or Yemen to fight groups that most Americans have never even heard of. This could lead to the immediate deployment of tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of American military service members to fight if Congress passes and Trump signs this AUMF.

The U.S. could declare war on a person. The president — not just President Trump, but likely every president for the next generation or longer — will be able to add new groups or new countries to the AUMF by simply sending a one-paragraph note to Congress. Absurdly, the Corker-Kaine AUMF even gives the commander-in-chief the option of going to war against a “person.” The president would not even have to explain why the new group or person is an enemy or what kind of danger awaits from military action in a newly added country.

Congress abdicates its war-making powers. In a stunningly unconstitutional move, the Corker-Kaine AUMF takes the most important power that the Constitution gives to Congress alone — the power to declare war — and turns it almost entirely over to this president and every future president. The only way that Congress would be able to stop a determined president from going to war everywhere and against anyone the commander-in-chief chooses would be to get a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress to override the president's veto.

This flips the constitutional order on its head since the Constitution says a majority of both houses must agree to go to war before military action is taken. By contrast, the Corker-Kaine AUMF requires two-thirds of both houses to try to stop a president from using the war power that the AUMF would give the president.  This provision to swap the Constitution’s requirement of a majority in both houses to declare war for a two-thirds majority of both houses to stop war breaches checks and balances and the separation of powers. It can’t possibly be constitutional.

So, what more could be added to a piece of legislation that unconstitutionally sets us up for war everywhere and forever? 

How about amping up the authority for any president to use the military to lock people up with no charge or trial? And expanding this authority with no boundaries — and with no statutory prohibition in the AUMF against locking up American citizens or anyone picked up even in the United States itself?  We believe it would still be unlawful for a president to try it (again), but why risk it?

Congress went down this same road in 2011, with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and hundreds of thousands of activists from the ACLU and our allies called and emailed their members of Congress urging its defeat. It narrowly passed, and President Obama signed it — with a promise not to use it against American citizens, but without denying that a president could have the power to order military detention.

The Intercept has an explanation of how this new detention provision could work. It is truly hard to believe that anyone in Congress would believe that it is a good idea for the legislature to head down this road again. Please sign our petition urging your senators to do everything they can do to make sure the Corker-Kaine AUMF never becomes law.  

The Corker-Kaine AUMF is beyond dangerous.  It is unconstitutional. And it is set up to never end. The Senate has a duty to kill this legislation immediately and show all members of Congress and the executive that abdicating Congress’s duty to declare war stays with the people’s representatives and no one else.

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But why now?

IncorporealNinja

Because trump is the perfect idiot to start random wars for no reason and that means BIG money for defense contractors and people with stock in weapons manufacturers.

Anonymous

Is Congress going nuts? It's against the Constitution. Why would any one want trump or future Presidents declare war? Setting up for a dictator in our future?

Anonymous

It would make totalitarianism and dictatorship a definite reality. No one man etc should have all that power. Warrantless surveillance is wrong and against the un's declaration of human rights. Only prisoners are watched because they have done something illegal and there is still limitations applied such as: no use of cruel and unusual punishment - that has been contravened in countries proclaiming to preserve civilised basic human rights (as witnessed in Abu Greib and Gitmo). Surveilling anyone because they could commit a crime is the demotion of any citizen to the status of prisoner. The watcher is always the master, the watched the slave. 9/11 occurred because certain orgs didn't make use of the already provided and existing FISA warrants. They also dropped the ball - not looking up a terrorist in the white pages and following a meeting in Malaysia before 9/11 (see Mark Rossini's and others comments in doco : "The Spy Factory" for detailed timeline etc of what happened and why, as provided by freedom of information act). Basic investigative procedure wasn't followed either intentionally or negligently. Because of their lack of acknowledgement in the 9/11 commission, the patriot act was passed which got them what they wanted - warrantless surveillance for any reason against any citizen allowing them to take really pervy/rapey footage of anyone with impunity. It's a disgrace.

Anonymous

Expanding powers to achieve indefinite detention of immigrants seeking refuge or escaping the weapon of mass destruction - poverty, is in the same ballpark as what a communist country, Hungary (or another country in that region did, to people who tried to leave their country in the 1980s). Democratic countries have therefore taken on the characteristics of totalitarian countries becoming increasingly uncivilised. If the world's leaders could collaborate with each other to reduce poverty, increase contraception and education and women's and subsequently the betterment of children's welfare, in developing and developed countries then our projected increases in population wouldn't increase to their expected doubling by 2050, which will exacerbate our overpopulation problem in the world today. Closer to zero population growth could be achieved using financial incentives like low or interest free loans etc for impoverished people to start up their own businesses or the pooling of their resources to form co-ops etc or perhaps western factories set up in their countries with better working conditions that currently exist in some overseas factories. We have to view this as a global problem and address the underlying reasons why people are wanting to escape their own countries just as the British and Irish etc did in the past when stricken by poverty, famine and overpopulation themselves. Unfortunately world population figures show a correlation between countries that have a high adherence to tradition - and poverty, because they are less likely to use contraception and also in such countries tradition/religion is used as a method of subjugating women which adversely affects their children and increases poverty and their desire to have many children who are expected to support the impoverished parents. Therefore retirement plans for developing countries in safe bank accounts (not confiscated by their political leaders is required). Countries who sign up to this initiative could also be rewarded somehow as well. Global overpopulation needs to be seriuosly addressed in the near future. Financial incentives for not having a collective number of children that would increase the immigration problem I believe is the best alternative.

Anonymous

Presidents should have to go through psych evals before taking up office because they could nuke us all. Lie detector tests should also be given to root out any biassed people in govt because Harry Truman was a racist and he was very enthusiastic to indiscriminately kill Asians who he had previously dehumanizedin vile racist comments that needn't be repeated. This led to the bombing of Japan. Another factor that played into the decision made to bomb Japan was that he was called a 'cissy' when he was young so he felt he had to prove himself to be biiig maaan by "getting his big gun off" by having the atomic bombs dropped on the civilian innocents including the elderly, the babies and the sick and disabled etc who posed no threat to the US and its Allies. The Russians could have overcome the enemy soldiers by implementing targeted attacks on munitions factories etc instead of the indiscriminate annilihation of many Japanese civilians. Because of the attack, Japanese soldiers took revenge by killing US soldiers that had been previously detained within Japan. Politicians may fear the genpop but since the prezy has access to the nuclear football, we need to take more stringent measures to root out the crackpots as illustrated in the book/film The Dead Zone because they could blow this whole world to smithereens!

Anonymous

Sine die...the military is doing the job it was hired to do. As soon as Americans relieve them of duty, then we can have peace throughout the world. Unfortunately, those in power abuse the process...

Anonymous

I find a number of suppositions construed throughout this synopsis that is presented by the ACLU as to what the passage of this legislation would do. The elements of this legislation provide the tools necessary to guarantee the continued safety and sovereignty of the United States. Why did we not see this same reaction to the NDAA in 2011? Could it be that it is because the present administration has the interest of the nation as its top priority, rather than an affiliation with globalization and subjugation to the "one world order" that Obama pursued. Presidents have had the authority to take military action against enemies for a very long time without consulting congress, and the only difference between doing so and all out war is a "declaration." Therefore, I fail to see where passage of this legislation would significantly alter the status quo. The issue for the ACLU, and other bleeding heart organizations, is a response to the current socio/political situation presented by the impending invasion of our country by illegal aliens on our southern border. Organizations like yours support open border policies that threaten to destroy our country in the name of human rights. Fortunately, a vast majority of us disagree with that position, and will defend our nation against such an invasion AND against an oppressive government, by armed resistance if necessary. Recognize and support the original intent of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Stop the headlong rush towards global authority over our nation that was so ardently supported by Obama and the democrat party, and there will be little to fear from either the NDAA or the AUMF.

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