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In Case You Missed It: Corker Calls for Updating 2001 Authorization for Use of Force Against Al Qaeda to Address New and Emerging Threats

Former Senior Counterterrorism Officials Testify in Foreign Relations Committee that 2001 Authorities Need Review

WASHINGTON – During a hearing on U.S. counterterrorism policies on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called upon Congress to consider updating the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against al Qaeda in order to address new and emerging terrorist threats and to better protect the American people and our interests overseas.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has exclusive jurisdiction over the authorization of the use of military force.  

“Former counterterrorism officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations have said the current authorities, originally directed at those responsible for 9/11 and groups like the Taliban that harbored them, are increasingly outdated to address new and emerging global terrorist threats. Therefore, we must ensure that Congress has fully granted our government all the tools and capabilities to work with our partners to confront these very real threats to the American people and our interests overseas. I appreciate the chairman’s attention to these issues, and I urge him to hold another hearing in the near future to consider reform of our counterterrorism policy, including possible legislation,” said Corker. Read more:

From the Hearing:

Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama: “[T]he current AUMF is to broad, too narrow and too vague. It’s too broad because…we’re now 12 years later, and I think a lot of people when they voted for it didn’t quite realize that it would still be applying. It’s too narrow because honestly by the end of my tenure in the U.S. government, you [are having] to do some shoehorning to get some groups or individuals in there that posed a very clear and imminent threat to the United States into the language of the AUMF. And it’s too vague, because I think it’s very difficult to look at it and say how would that apply to a group like Jabhat al-Nusra, which the American people and this Congress should know up front.”

Kenneth L. Wainstein, form senior counterterrorism official to President George W. Bush: “By looking at possibly revising the AUMF, it will be a recognition…[that] this effort against terrorism is going to be a long-term war…Also, as I mentioned in my initial remarks, right now the administration seems to be able to shoehorn their activities into the AUMF, and what they’ve done seems to be covered by the law. But there really is an element of Congress lending legitimacy to their actions. When Congress deliberates over the authority that it’s considering giving to the executive branch, looks at all the implications of it, vests that authority in the executive branch, I think it’s good for all branches, and I think it would be good for our counterterrorism program.”

For full committee testimony, including footage of the hearing, visit:

In the News:

Associated Press: “Weighing in on an issue of both national security and civil liberties, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the law passed days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks needs to be revised to deal with emerging threats and ensure greater congressional oversight. For far too long, Congress has failed to fully exercise its constitutional responsibility to authorize the use of military force, including in the current struggle against al-Qaida, so I urge the committee to consider updating current anti-terrorism authorities to adapt to threats that did not exist in 2001 and to better protect our nation while upholding our morals and values,” Corker said at the start of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on counterterrorism.” Read more:

Foreign Policy: “Corker called for Congress to update the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) at a Wednesday hearing and said that he wants the SFRC to take the lead on revising the law that was passed in the wake of the original 9/11 attacks. He prodded SFRC Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to hold a hearing on the issue and consider marking up legislation in their committee…‘Congress should amend the law to specify exactly how and when the president can use drones and kill or capture missions to kill people and Congress must ‘restore the appropriate balance of power between the legislative and executive branches of government while maintaining flexibility for the president to respond swiftly under threat of attack,’ Corker said.” Read more:

Washington Post: “The administration has not said it plans to expand its use of drones for targeted killings beyond current CIA and military campaigns against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and al-Qaeda associates in Yemen and Somalia. But the new designations potentially allows the administration to do so under its interpretation of the Authorization of the Use of Military Force passed by Congress after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Lawmakers have raised concerns about that interpretation and questioned whether the law should be rewritten to reflect a changing terrorist threat and increase congressional oversight and involvement in the administration’s drone campaign. ‘I really do think this entire authorization needs to be updated,’ Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said at a hearing Wednesday.” Read more: