AFSA International Legislative Committee Weekly Update

Senators Kaine and McCain to Propose First Changes to Measure Authorizing Force Against al-Qaida: US senators are readying a measure that would for the first time revise the legal underpinning for America’s fight against violent Islamic groups. For years, lawmakers in both parties and both chambers have advocated rescinding the September 2001 authorization of the use of military force (AUMF) or updating it, especially as al-Qaida has been weakened in Pakistan and Afghanistan but gained strength elsewhere. Experts and some pro-reform lawmakers contend the 2001 measure is outdated, and should at least be updated to reflect a changed fight against al-Qaida and similar forces in places beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now, the possibility of US military action in Iraq and the threat posed by groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have members like Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., saying a new force-authorization measure is needed to provide an adequate legal basis. Kaine and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told Congress Watch last week they are in talks about an AUMF-reform amendment. Both said they have discussed the matter with other senators, describing support in the upper chamber as broad. “Sixty words have defined the last 13 years. … But those 60 words, known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force … have been in effect for far longer, in more places, and invoked against more groups than anyone could have suspected in 2001,” Mieke Eoyang of think tank Third Way wrote in a May article. “After bin Laden’s death and with the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close, now it is time to revisit the AUMF. By, John T. Bennett, Defense News

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