The infamous AUMF law

Stephen Colbert carefully walks us through the Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF) legislation that enabled presidents Bush and Obama to take all the actions they have taken in the so-called war on terror and has given us torture, indefinite detention, drone murders, and the like. I had not realized that the operational part of this legislation, passed just one week after the events of 9/11, was so brief, consisting of just 60 words. Here is the relevant part:

That the President is authorized 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.

It looks like when Congress wants to shred the constitutional protections of its own citizens and commit war crimes against the people of other nations, it abandons its usual verbosity. And now some want to expand the president’s powers even more.

Once again, Colbert effectively uses humor to expose the horror that has been unleashed.

(This clip aired on May 23, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)


  1. richardrobinson says

    Am I reading this right? Is the president excluded from using these powers to hunt down terrorists who had nothing to do with 9/11?

  2. Mano Singham says

    You are reading it right. Of course, if they could link Saddam Hussein to 9/11, they can do so for anybody else, as Colbert pointed out. But they are trying to loosen even that minor restriction.

  3. maddog1129 says

    Congress is the only entity that has the right to declare war. In the absence of a congressional declaration of war, there should be no authorization for the executive to conduct war. If Congress isn’t willing to actually declare war, then there should be no war.

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