Congress must repeal the 9/11 Authorization of Use of Force

Congress must repeal the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) that it passed three days after 9/11.

The AUMF was passed on September 14, 2001. It authorizes the President to “use all necessary and appropriate force” against anyone who the President “determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”

Almost 12 years after 9/11, the AUMF has become a carte blanche to the Executive Branch to use military force at whim.


Prior to the Iraq War, the AUMF was cited by Congress as an additional  justification for that invasion.

As Michael Crowley noted in Time almost a year ago, the AUMF is now being cited by President Obama as justification for drone strikes around the world.

Representative Barbara Lee is now calling for a repeal of the AUMF.

Because of the AUMF, the Executive no longer needs to seek permission from Congress before initiating military action.

This is in direct contravention of the Constitution. The Framers clearly intended Congress to have the power to declare war, and not the President.

In a 1798 letter to Thomas Jefferson, James Madison explained, “The constitution supposes, what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the legislature.”

Alexander Hamilton concurred in Federalist No. 69 that the power of “declaring of war, and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies; all which by the constitution under consideration would appertain to the Legislature.”

The AUMF circumscribes the Congressional check on military intervention; and without such a check, Congress cannot balance the actions of the Executive — the system of “checks-and-balances” between these two branches is then severed.

The AUMF should be repealed and Congress made to enter into a debate regarding the necessity of further military action with respect to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks.

If the AUMF is not repealed, it will be continually used to justify further military action without oversight by Congress.

One thought on “Congress must repeal the 9/11 Authorization of Use of Force”

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