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House to Vote on Endless Worldwide War Next Week

A sleeper provision tucked deep inside the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would be a new law for this president and all his successors to wage an endless worldwide war.
Sam Milgrom,
Washington Legislative Office
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May 20, 2011

We called for your attention and you responded. Members of Congress are starting to pay attention, and many media outlets quickly followed your lead. But that wasn’t enough. We needed more attention brought to an upcoming House vote on a sleeper provision tucked deep inside the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would be a new law for this president and all his successors to wage an endless worldwide war without any further consent of Congress.

The very problematic provision in the NDAA will be considered on House floor as early as Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and it is starting to receive the attention it deserves. Academics as well as lawmakers, who despite coming from different places on the political spectrum find themselves in agreement in opposing worldwide war.

Today, The Detroit News ran an op-ed from freshman Republican Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who was endorsed by the Tea Party, that addresses and opposes the House provision for worldwide authorization of use of military force:

Our Armed Forces are stretched thin across three theaters and constrained by a record deficit in Washington. And while we enter our 10th year of sacrificing blood and treasure to build democracies, a home-grown democratic revolution in the Arab world has overturned several dictatorships, largely without America’s help.

There has been no better time to regain our Constitutional balance and check the president’s war powers. Congress is a co-equal branch — and it should start acting like it.

In addition, this week Northwestern University law professor Joseph Margulies wrote in the The New Republic:

[T]he proposed AUMF authorizes a substantially greater role for the U.S. military than it had even at the height of the cold war: the use of force against an enemy the Obama administration considers it “neither possible nor advisable” to describe, anywhere in the world, without regard to whether the proposed targets had anything to do with September 11 or whether they threaten “future acts” against the United States. There is no end in sight. Whatever else may be true, this is not what the founders intended, and not what the nation has practiced.

[N]early ten years after September 11, days after the death of Osama bin Laden, and in the absence of any imminent threat, Congress is poised to give President Obama and his successors substantially more authority to use force than it granted to President Bush only 72 hours after the attacks. It is an odd and distinctly un-American state of affairs when the clamor for war outpaces the war itself.

We often hear that the attacks of September 11 “changed everything.” It would be sad indeed if, among the things that collapsed and changed that day, was the salutary idea that we might be “a humble nation,” determined to “project the power for good that America can represent,” as Bush and Gore put it back in the 2000 debate. For these are not merely platitudes to be trotted out days before an election. They are the ideals that sustain us through adversity.

Your efforts to engage members of the media, academics and, most importantly our congressional lawmakers, are beginning to gain momentum—and we are all grateful for the leadership of House members of both parties in stepping up their opposition to this dangerous proposal. But we can’t stop now. We must continue to take action to oppose endless worldwide war.

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