News / USA

    Legal Authorization for US Anti-Terror Efforts Probed

    FILE - A detainee's feet are seen shackled to the floor inside the Camp 6 high-security detention facility at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base April 27, 2010.
    FILE - A detainee's feet are seen shackled to the floor inside the Camp 6 high-security detention facility at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base April 27, 2010.
    Michael Bowman
    Friction is rising between U.S. lawmakers and the Obama administration over the ground rules for America's global anti-terror efforts nearly 13 years after the attacks of September 11, 2001. The issue is central to matters ranging from U.S. drone strikes, to CIA activities, to America's future military engagement in Afghanistan, to detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
     
    Weeks after the 9-11 attacks, Congress authorized an open-ended military campaign against al-Qaida and affiliated terrorist groups. That Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, was the focus of a speech by President Obama last year.
     
    "In the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al-Qaida will pose a credible threat to the United States," Obama said. "Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don't need to fight. So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF's mandate.  And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further."
     
    A year later, the AUMF remains in place and the rules for drone strikes remain a matter of administration policy, not codified law.  The president appears no closer to fulfilling his pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay facility, although Congress has restricted closing the military prison.
     
    At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Chairman Robert Menendez posed this question to administration legal advisors: "Is the 9-11 AUMF broken in some way? Is it obsolete? Is it inadequate to the threats we and our friends and allies face today and for the foreseeable future?"
     
    The Pentagon's lead attorney, Stephen Preston, declined to pass judgment on the existing AUMF, and spoke in general terms of what is needed going forward.
    "The challenge is to ensure that the authorities for U.S. military operations are both adequate and appropriately tailored to the threat," he said.
     
    Such vagueness tested the patience of senators of both parties, including Republican Bob Corker.
     
    "Are there [[terrorist]] groups we cannot go against [[combat]] today, yes or no?" Corker asked.
     
    Preston replied that President Obama wants "a dialogue with Congress about the continued necessity and utility of the AUMF or a follow-on legal regime."
     
    Corker admitted to being frustrated. "I have had no reach-out from the administration. So that is another line of hollow comments from this administration. You have reached out in no way to talk about refining this [[AUMF]]," he said.
     
    The committee also sought input from past U.S. officials. Former State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh argued against a permanent military authorization.
     
    "We should not treat the AUMF as a perpetual, all-purpose security blanket that can be distorted and that will, itself, become a distorting force. We can, in time, repeal the AUMF and rely on other authorities to fill these gaps. And not to do so would be bad for our counter-terrorism policy and bad for our [[U.S.]] Constitution," Koh said.
     
    Michael Mukasey, who served as Attorney General during the George W. Bush administration, said a legalistic argument over the use of military force misses a larger point.
     
    "There are people who are committed to destroy Western civilization. And we are the principal focus of their energies. We could declare tomorrow that the war [[on terror]] is over. We could repeal the AUMF, and that would not change their agenda. They [[terrorists]] get a vote in this," Mukasey said.
     
    The Obama administration insists it has been far from passive on the appropriate use of military force. It notes efforts made to prevent civilian casualties in drone strikes, and its notification of appropriate congressional committees every time a strike is ordered. U.S. officials say they will be in a better position to decide the future role of force against terrorism, once the fate of a pending security agreement with Afghanistan is known.  Such assurances do not seem to satisfy U.S. lawmakers.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora