Coalition Urges that Any Authorization for Use of Military Force Must Be Clear, Specific, and Narrowly Tailored

On June 19—in advance of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to “Review[] Congressional Authorizations for the Use of Military Force”—TCP joined a coalition of human rights, civil liberties, and faith groups on a letter to Committee leadership urging that any new AUMF be “clear, specific, tailored to the particular situation for which force is being authorized, and comport with the international law obligations of the United States.” Those requirements are essential, the groups said, because “vague and overbroad war authorizations undermine accountability, frustrate effective oversight, invite mission creep, and risk embroiling the nation in unauthorized or perpetual wars that threaten human rights and the rule of law.”

The letter applauded the Foreign Relations Committee for addressing the issue of a new use-of-force authorization in the first instance.  If Congress is going to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to decide on war, it needs to evaluate the administration’s plans to identify and address where current or proposed missions lack adequate authorization. “The Foreign Relations Committee is the appropriate forum to begin that evaluation,” the groups wrote, “followed by a full and transparent debate in the full Senate if the Committee moves forward with an AUMF.”

The letter also outlined the groups’ views on critical elements that any new AUMF should contain in order to help achieve clarity, specificity, and narrow tailoring. These include repealing or superseding prior AUMFs, clearly identifying the mission objective and the entities against which force is being authorized, and transparency and reporting requirements, among others.

The full letter is available here.

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