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Rand Paul: Obama Should Seek New Authorization for Iraq Strikes

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said President Barack Obama should seek new authorization from Congress before taking military action in Iraq, saying it would be “absurd” to rely on the 2001 authorization to use military force.  

“This is a debate we’ve had and the Obama administration as well as many Republicans think that you can stay at war forever based on [the] 2001 use of authorization of force,” Paul told reporters Thursday. “I don’t agree with that. I don’t think one generation can commit another generation to war forever. “Can one vote in Congress in 2001 say that we are at war forever, anywhere, anytime around the world? I think that’s absurd,” Paul continued. “And I think if the American people could weigh in on it they would be horrified to think that a vote with no geographic limit and time limit and no limit upon what enemies. I think it’s an untenable position.  

“This is precisely why we should have repealed the AUMF a couple of years ago when I tried to repeal it. Now we are in a situation where no one is going to want to talk about it,” Paul said, giving little chance of the Senate debating and voting on the matter anytime soon.  

His comments come after Obama announced he is prepared to send up to 300 U.S. military advisers to Iraq to assist in training and advising Iraqi forces and to take targeted and precise military action if and when he determines that the situation on the ground requires it.  

Other senators say that while the president has authority to take short-term limited action, anything broader would need a new authorization from Congress.  

“I think he has … authority to act to protect the national security of the United States in the short-term, but if he is proposing anything beyond a handful of weeks or months then I think he has to come back to Congress for new authority,” Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., said. “I think the original Iraq AUMF is obsolete and I think it’s a stretch for the [2001] AUMF to cover a new long-term engagement in Iraq.”  

On the 300 advisers, Murphy said, “It may make sense to give some short-term military assistance, so I’ll want to hear the details around the president’s proposal.  

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who recently proposed repealing the Iraq AUMF, said the question of authorization “depends on what actions they take.”  

But others believe that the White House may be on legally solid ground only relying on the 2001 AUMF.  

“I would hope they would consult,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee. But “I think they could easily rely in this 60–word AUMF that was put forth back in 2001 … on the other hand you would think they would have the prudence — and they are showing that now — to engage Congress on what they are doing.”  

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., endorsed the president’s strategy.  

“I support President Obama’s decision to deploy a very limited number of advisers to Iraq for a non-combat training mission,” he said in a statement. “This decision gives America the flexibility to take precise action against threats to our national security and keeps Iraqi authorities accountable for maintaining the security of their own country.”  


Related stories:

Obama Prepared for Iraq Action Without Congress

Obama not asking Congress’ Permission on Iraq

Amendments Opposing Iraq War Could Put House Democrats in Tough Spot

Obama’s Democrats Wary of Military Action in Iraq

Obama Could Bomb Iraq Without Congress Because War Authorization Act Never Expired

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