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US Congress urged to repeal war authorization to assure no ‘unchecked’ president could ‘misuse’ it

Anti-war activists hold banners during a protest in front of the White House following the US’ assassination of Iran's top anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in January 2020. (File photo by Anadolu Agency)  

A coalition of 37 rights organizations and anti-war groups have urged the US Congress to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq, noting that such a measure could assure no other “unchecked” president could “misuse” the law to wage other wars.

The coalition has sent a letter to several Senate and Congress members, calling on the lawmakers to take action on what they called a “long overdue repeal.”

“Repealing this outdated and unnecessary law would constitute a basic act of constitutional hygiene while also ensuring that the 2002 Iraq AUMF cannot be misused to breathe new life into an unforeseen national security crisis, driven by an unchecked president,” reads part of the letter.

The 2002 resolution, dubbed the ‘Authorization for the Use of Military Force’ (AUMF), was overwhelmingly passed by the US Congress, granting the American president permission to wage military action – without the need for any Congressional approval – as laid out in the specific terms set in the legislative measure.

The resolution was used by former US president George W. Bush to invade Iraq in 2003. However, next presidents also used that despite the war in Iraq having ended.

One of the latest instances of reference to this resolution was in early January 2020 when ex-president Donald Trump ordered assassination of Iran’s top anti-terror commander, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, along with the deputy chief of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

“This scenario has already played out once, in early 2020; there is nothing to prevent it playing out again, until Congress takes the 2002 Iraq AUMF off the books,” adds the letter.

By repealing the 2002 AUMF, Congress “would finally reclaim its constitutional war powers in a manner both deeply significant and increasingly uncontroversial. We urge you to seize this opportunity to get it off the books for good,” added the letter. 

Efforts for repealing the resolution come as there is still a wider-ranging 2001 AUMF in place which was adopted in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

The congressional authorization has been applied entirely in Muslim-majority countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

A 2021 report prepared by Brown University's Costs of War Project found that the US-led “global war on terror” has led to the deaths of nearly one million people, and cost more than $8 trillion.

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