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A war against anyone who doesn't like the U.S.?

Afghanistan Language in a new defense bill could authorize the military "to pursue anyone suspected of terrorism, anywhere on earth, from now to the end of time." So says a New York Times editorial, but the issue is not so-clear cut.

New language contained in a defense bill does tweak the Authorization for Use of Military Force approved by Congress after 9/11, but it does so to shore up existing policies, not to license a broader war on terror.

What's the difference between the two documents?

The AUMF, as it's called, authorized the president to "use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

The House Defense Authorization bill says this: "As the United States nears the 10th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001, the terrorist threat has evolved as a result of intense military and diplomatic pressure from the United States and its coalition partners. However, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces still pose a grave threat to U.S. national security. The Authorization for Use of Military Force necessarily includes the authority to address the continuing and evolving threat posed by these groups."

The New York Times sees the term "associated forces" as so vague that it could include "anyone who doesn't like America, even if they are not connected in any way with the 2001 attacks. It could even apply to domestic threats." That is an exaggerated, if not paranoid, characterization of the language, which seems designed to cover groups like Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
There is one problematic section of the authorization: language saying that the president has the authority "to detain certain belligerents until the termination of hostilities." This language is a significant departure from the AUMF, though it comports with President Obama's view of his authority to hold "the worst of the worst" indefinitely.
The real news about the language of the defense bill is that it codifies Obama's view of what he can do.


Islamic law and the latest case of U.S. paranoia

U.S. military: The dogs of war

Bin Laden photos: They're pictures, not trophies

--Michael McGough

Photo: Camp Passab in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Credit: Paula Bronstein / Getty Images / April 25, 2011


Comments () | Archives (16)

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Endless war unless the people stop it.
The only beneficiaries will be the military/industrial complex. The rest of us will pay a hefty price for this hubris.


If you aren't guilty, you don't sweat it.


whenever you get a southerner in the white house

you're bound to get a useless war...

and being a southerner that war is sure to be lost.

jefferson davis, lyndon johnson, george bush, jr...

murderous, war making losers from the south.


"...the president has the authority 'to detain certain belligerents until the termination of hostilities.'"

So President Obama can detain Joe Wilson and the other House Republicans?

Excellent idea!

truth to power

War is a racket.


There's nothing paranoid about this concern. Neocons have been using the AUMF to justify any number of patently unconstitutional things, up to and including arresting US citizens on American soil and locking them up in perpetutity, without a lawyer or even a chance to challenge their detention.

P J Evans

Some of the hawks in Congress would be quite happy to have a permanent war, because their view is that wars justify anything they feel like doing, in the name of 'homeland security'. (Whether those actions actually do anything to improve security is not in their thoughts.)
It's just like their 'support our troops' talk: they don't really care about the troops except in combat; the rest of the time they're a budget liability.


@pkc I'm not guilty, and I never sweat it. However, I'm made to feel personally guilty for something I can't quite put my finger on every time I go into an airport.

Let's think logical

Statistically you are twice as likely to be killed by a falling vending machine than by a terrorist attack. Yet you'd never guess that given all the money we spend "fighting terrorism" and the incredible lack of money we spend fighting vending machines.

But what else can you expect from a country that finds 400,000+ people KILLED per year by tobacco an acceptable number.

All the military and defense contractor leaders praise Allah every night for the concept of "terrorism". After all, it's an enemy you can never really see and never really win a war with.


Who gets to define a "terrorist"? One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

Menachem Begin was originally a terrorist.

Dangerous stuff here and there's nothing that limits it to external "terrorists". Who's not to say that it can't be used as a domestic political weapon?


"...force against those nations, organizations, or persons HE DETERMINES..."
well... there go the final scraps of your cherished "deMOCKracy" into the disposal of manufactured threats and deliberately fabricated enemies! how incredibly ironic that the former threat of white german fascism is now being championed by a black president. i have been repeatedly saying in these pages that you people need to wake up and realize that you are divided and ruled by this republican vs., democrat stage play... THEY ARE ONE AND THE SAME BOTH working towards an evil NWO intended to crush you!
what’s next... mandatory goose-stepping and reciting "heil obama"?
...'Presidential Directive No. 57,XXX': "until further notice all disabled persons dependent upon hoverounds and wheelchairs for mobility are excluded from goose-step tributes paid to the president until preparations are completed for their transfers to FEMA concentration camps"!
wake up people (or keep laughing YAO)... these (not fictional) camps were built/refurbished under the previous demoncrat clinton admin, prepared for the skillfully calculated turmoil the lies ahead!

Timothy Hui

I'm not sure how this is any different than what we've been doing for a decade...


Let's think logical

"Who gets to define a "terrorist"? One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

That's easy. A terrorist is anyone who can be used as a scapegoat in order that the military industrial complex can line its pockets even more.

That, in addition to the fact the terrorist cannot be Christian or white and is preferably from an invadeable third world country.

Let's think logical

"If you aren't guilty, you don't sweat it."

You'd make a great Supreme Court judge these days

Joey ZaZa

Long live the military machine. I don't care what anyone says, if we didn't have that military machine the east coast would be speaking German and the West Coast would be speaking Japanesse.

I can see there is a lot of comments from those have spent their time or wish they where born during the times in the 60's. The world is evolving and there are threats everywhere. You want to weaken our military machine now...then grab your Rosetta Stone and start learning Spanish and Chinesse......


The only evidence of skewed thinking is in the person who wrote this opinion piece. The wording of the bill leaves it open for the US military etc to do precisely what the NY Times claims: attack "anyone who doesn't like America, even if they are not connected in any way with the 2001 attacks. It could even apply to domestic threats."

The author of this opinion piece has attempted to use legalistic nitpicking do muddy that fact. He/she failed in his/her attempt.



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