n the wake of President Obama’s big speech about restraining the war on terrorism, a member of the House intelligence committee is working on a bill to undo the basic authorities to wage it.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is preparing a piece of legislation that would “sunset” the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), a foundational law passed in the days after the 9/11. “The current AUMF is outdated and straining at the edges to justify the use of force outside the war theater,” Schiff tells Danger Room.
Repealing the AUMF would be the boldest restriction of presidential war powers since 9/11. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have relied on the document to authorize everything from the warrantless electronic surveillance of American citizens to drone strikes against al-Qaida offshoots that did not exist on 9/11. Getting rid of it is certain to invite fierce opposition from more bellicose members of Congress, who have repeatedly demagogued efforts to roll back any post-9/11 wartime authority, let alone the most important one.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the only legislator to vote against the authorization in 2001, has long fought unsuccessfully to repeal the AUMF. But Schiff is a moderate, not a firebreathing liberal, and while sunsetting the AUMF is sure to be a big legislative challenge, even conservative legislators like Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are raising fundamental questions about the merits of a never-ending war.
More: Exclusive: Congressman Preps Bill to End Terror War Authority