Unchecked Executive War Power Could Slip Through the House

Tucked inside the National Defense Authorization Act, being marked up by the House Armed Services Committee this week, is a hugely important provision that hasn't been getting a lot of attention — a brand new authorization for a worldwide war.

This stealth provision was added to the bill by the committee's chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), but has a bit of a history. It was first proposed by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey in 2008 after the Bush administration lost the Boumediene v. Bush case, in which the Supreme Court decided that federal courts would subject the administration's asserted law of war basis to hold Guantanamo detainees to searching review. An idea that may have originally been intended to bolster the Bush administration's basis for holding Guantanamo detainees is now being promoted as an authorization of a worldwide war — and could become the single biggest ceding of unchecked war authority to the executive branch in modern American history.

The current authorization of war provided the constitutional authority for the executive branch to go to war in Afghanistan. Subsequently, it has reportedly been invoked by the executive branch much more broadly to also use military force in Yemen and elsewhere, to justify torture and abuse of detainees, to eavesdrop and spy on American citizens without warrants, and to imprison people captured far from any battlefield without charge or trial.

Before Congress this week, the proposed authorization of a worldwide war goes much further, however, allowing war wherever there are terrorism suspects in any country around the world without an expiration date, geographical boundaries or connection to the 9/11 attacks or any other specific harm or threat to the United States. There have been no hearings on the provision, nor has its necessity been explained by Rep. McKeon or anyone else in Congress.

The idea that Congress is about to pass new authority for a worldwide war as we're trying to ramp down our efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan is starting to get attention. We're hoping that the House Armed Serviced Committee, and the full House, will reconsider this troubling and dangerous provision. We'll keep you updated as this troubling provision progresses, but you can help now by telling your representative to oppose any new and expanded war authority.

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Anonymous

Hideous and of course Illegal with an Illegitimate President.

Anonymous

Is Bin laden killing legal?

Anonymous

Why would congress abrogate its own power to approve or disapprove a war declaration?

Anonymous

the constitution gives the power to declare war to congress, not the president. further, the constitution nowhere allows congress to delegate such power.

Anonymous

It would appear that we are already operating under same, even if not authorized.

Anonymous

Sounds kickass. I'll be sure to tell my reps to vote for this.

Anonymous

About time it's called WWIII, I smell the draft in America

Anonymous

The warloards in Washington need to satisfy their lust for blood and oil.

Anonymous

Yes, because a president who was born in Hawaii and who soundly trounces the opposition, who happened to ACTUALLY be born in another country is an illegitimate president...

Anonymous

Read Confessions of an economic hitman

Bilderberg group

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