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Home / Press Release / Senator Merkley Releases Tailored Authorization for Use of Military Force
May 23, 2018

Senator Merkley Releases Tailored Authorization for Use of Military Force

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today praised the proposal from Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) for a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that is tailored to current conflicts, provides for meaningful congressional oversight and public transparency, and includes a three-year expiration date.

"If Congress wants to reassert its control over going to war, it should look to Senator Merkley’s proposal. This AUMF provides the president with ample authority to use force while including critical safeguards to prevent executive overreach and keep both Congress and the public informed as the conflict proceeds,” said Human Rights First’s Rita Siemion. “The proposal addresses concerns raised across the political spectrum about ceding Congress’s power to the president and authorizing open-ended armed conflict.”

Human Rights First notes that the 2001 AUMF, which authorized the use of force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and the 2002 AUMF, which authorized force to address the threat posed by the Saddam Hussein regime, have been stretched to cover the use of force in over a dozen countries against an array of terrorist organizations, many of which did not even exist in 2001.

Senator Merkley’s AUMF would:

  • Authorize the use of military force against the Taliban, al Qaeda, and ISIS in Afghanistan and Iraq to protect the United States from these groups.
  • Permit the president to continue other current military operations for six months and provide a mechanism for Congress to authorize force against additional groups and in any additional countries via expedited procedures.
  • Limit the use of ground troops in any new countries and provide a mechanism for Congress to authorize the subsequent use of ground troops via expedited procedures.
  • Provide for the authority to use military force against groups to cease once the president, in consultation with the secretaries of defense and state, and the director of national intelligence, certifies that a group is no longer fighting the United States and does not have the ability to conduct a substantial attack against compelling United States interests.
  • Expire after three years unless reauthorized via expedited procedures.
  • Repeal the 2001 AUMF after six months and immediately repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF.
  • Require the president to provide reports every six months, which include information on the threat posed by groups covered under the authorization, the numbers of combatant and civilian casualties, investigations of civilian harm, the strategy to achieve national security, diplomatic, development, and humanitarian goals, and the fiscal costs of the war.

For Human Rights First’s recommendations on how to draft a clear and specific AUMF that is tailored to the conflict, see our Drafting an Effective Authorization for Use of Military Force or a letter sent by Human Rights First along with two dozen other advocacy and civil society organizations to members of Congress.

To speak with Siemion contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org