Matthew Olsen Testimony on “Authorization for the Use of Military Force and Current Terrorist Threats”
Thank you, Chairman Royce, Ranking Member Engel, and distinguished members of the committee. I am honored to have this opportunity to appear before you to address the critical issue of authorizing the use of military force in the context of the evolving terrorist threat.
I am pleased to participate in the hearing today along with such distinguished witnesses, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Gross. I was privileged to work for Judge Mukasey at the Justice Department when he was the Attorney General.
I approach these issues from the perspective of my years of service as a national security lawyer and counterterrorism official in the executive branch. From this vantage point, the importance of updating and clarifying the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (“AUMF”) is clear. By renewing this authority in light of the current terrorism landscape, Congress can provide explicit authority for our counterterrorism efforts, while exercising responsible oversight consistent with Congress’s role under the Constitution.
I dedicated more than two decades to public service as a government attorney and official on a range of national security, intelligence, and law enforcement matters under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Most recently, I was the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, an agency responsible for operating as the government’s hub for terrorism intelligence and analysis. In this capacity, I was responsible for briefing the President and National Security Council on terrorism threats and trends and for the strategic operational planning of counterterrorism activities to help ensure we implemented a whole-of-government approach to our counterterrorism efforts.