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In Case You Missed It: Corker Renews Call for Congress to Update 9/11 Authorization for Use of Force to Address Evolving Terrorist Threat

WASHINGTON – In a hearing yesterday to discuss the future of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against al Qaeda and associated forces, U.S. Senator Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, renewed a call for Congress to update the 2001 AUMF in order to address new and emerging terrorist threats while also ensuring appropriate congressional oversight and preserving the president’s flexibility to act in the event of imminent threats to the nation.

“It would be easier for us to ignore these difficult issues, or to buy the fantasy that al Qaeda is dead or dying and the tides of war are receding. But no serious observer can look at the world today without concluding that for the foreseeable future, terrorist groups with global reach will continue to threaten our country – regardless of their link to the 9/11 attacks,” said Corker. “Rather than abdicating the responsibility for confronting this threat and leaving it to the executive branch, Congress has a responsibility to both provide the president with the legal authorities needed to ensure our security and to define the legal parameters in which this shall be pursued.”

While recognizing terrorist groups pose a persistent threat to the U.S. and declaring the president’s desire to work with Congress to “refine and ultimately repeal” the 2001 AUMF, Obama administration witnesses would not clarify how the president intends to do this while still confronting these threats. The witnesses could not say whether the president acknowledges any limits on executive authority to use force against terrorist organizations without congressional authority or whether he needs continued authorization from Congress for counterterrorism activities if the 2001 law no longer existed. When questioned by Corker, the witnesses also refused to identify which groups are and are not covered by the 2001 AUMF.

“[S]ince the president suggested in May 2013 that he would engage with Congress on this issue, he has been silent and has done nothing,” added Corker. “It’s obvious the administration has no opinion on whether we should refine the AUMF or not.”