Senator Rand Paul warned Tuesday that a new war powers act currently making its way through the Senate will expand the President’s authority to declare war without the backing of Congress, essentially allowing the ‘Commander In Chief’ to wage war any where at any time.
While the legislation has been presented as a plan to “reassert” Congressional power to “authorize where, when and with who we are at war,” the proposal for a new AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) actually allows the president to declare anyone an ‘associated force’ of terrorists, without even disclosing the details to Congress or the public.
The legislation is an update to the 2001 and 2002 AUMF for the war in Afghanistan, following the 9/11 attacks.
“Unfortunately, the authorization they’re putting forward will expand the president’s authority to involve us in war,” Senator Paul wanned during an appearance on Fox News.
“Currently we’re involved in six or seven countries actively and another 10 or 20 sorts of intermittently. This new authorization will authorize all of those wars and then some.” Paul added.
“For the first time, it will authorize something called associated forces, which means anybody on the planet who says they are associated or we think are associated, we can go to war with,” Paul continued, essentially warning that the legislation constitutes a rubber stamp for war.
“My fear is that this new authorization will not constrain the president, but it will actually expand the presidential power, will expand our military involvement around the world.”
Also commenting on the bill, Rita Siemion, international legal counsel for Human Rights First said “It’s going to be handing over significant powers to President Trump and any future president with no limits on which groups the nation goes to war with.”
Siemion also warned that currently any new interpretations of the AUMFs, including new “associated forces”, can remain classified. In other words, Americans and their elected representatives are not mandated to be informed who the country is waging war with, a scenario directly out of George Orwell’s 1984.
In an interview with The American Conservative, Kurt Couchman, vice president for public policy at the conservative Defense Priorities also warned on the implications of the legislation.
“When the founders wrote the Constitution they understood that military conflict was a big deal,” Couchman noted, adding that “They saw sovereigns go bankrupt over a series of wars started by kings, and they did not want our president to be king. You need the people to be on board through their representatives. (This proposal) ensures wars will continue on auto-pilot only subject to the president’s discretion.”
Rand Paul further noted that the global war on terrorism is a failing model.
“For every terrorist you kill, are you killing more terrorists than are created?” he said. “We kill a terrorist somewhere in Algeria, what do the relatives do, become terrorists or go home and say it’s fine the Americans killed the leader of our village. We’re fine with that.”
“Or do they strap on vests and decide to attack the U.S,?” said Paul, adding “I’m not so sure the war on terror is beneficial or working at this point.”
Paul also noted that he is skeptical over the chemical weapons attack in Damascus, noting that “It doesn’t make sense for Assad to have done this because it galvanized the world against him.”
“The only thing that galvanizes world opposition to the Assad regime, the only thing that gets us involved in all is the use of chemical weapons,” said Paul.
The Senator said that he has not seen any proof to imply Assad was behind the attack, and added that if he was “he is the dumbest dictator on the planet.”