Democrats on the debate stage tonight agree: it’s time for the US Congress to exercise its power anew to either authorize or deny the use of military force around the world.
The conversation is rooted in a 2001 vote, taken only a few days after the 9/11 attacks, that has been used now for nearly two decades by both Republican and Democratic administrations as the legal backing to continue the amorphous “War on Terror.”
Despite its historical consequences, the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, runs only 60 words:
“That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
It was one vague paragraph, but according to a May 2016 report from the Congressional Research Service, there had been „37 relevant occurrences of an official record, disclosed publicly, of presidential reference to the 2001 AUMF in connection with initiating or continuing military or related action.“