Former Senior Counterterrorism Officials Testify in Foreign Relations Committee that 2001 Authorities Need Review

During a hearing on U.S. counterterrorism policies on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called upon Congress to consider updating the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against al Qaeda in order to address new and emerging terrorist threats and to better protect the American people and our interests overseas. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has exclusive jurisdiction over the authorization of the use of military force.

“Former counterterrorism officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations have said the current authorities, originally directed at those responsible for 9/11 and groups like the Taliban that harbored them, are increasingly outdated to address new and emerging global terrorist threats. Therefore, we must ensure that Congress has fully granted our government all the tools and capabilities to work with our partners to confront these very real threats to the American people and our interests overseas. I appreciate the chairman’s attention to these issues, and I urge him to hold another hearing in the near future to consider reform of our counterterrorism policy, including possible legislation,” said Corker. Read more:

From the Hearing:

Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama: “[T]he current AUMF is to broad, too narrow and too vague. It’s too broad because…we’re now 12 years later, and I think a lot of people when they voted for it didn’t quite realize that it would still be applying. It’s too narrow because honestly by the end of my tenure in the U.S. government, you [are having] to do some shoehorning to get some groups or individuals in there that posed a very clear and imminent threat to the United States into the language of the AUMF. And it’s too vague, because I think it’s very difficult to look at it and say how would that apply to a group like Jabhat al-Nusra, which the American people and this Congress should know up front.”

Kenneth L. Wainstein, form senior counterterrorism official to President George W. Bush: By looking at possibly revising the AUMF, it will be a recognition…[that] this effort against terrorism is going to be a long-term warAlso, as I mentioned in my initial remarks, right now the administration seems to be able to shoehorn their activates into the AUMF, and what they’ve done seems to be covered by the law. But there really is an element of Congress lending legitimacy to their actions. When Congress deliberates over the authority that its considering giving to the executive branch, looks at all the implications of it, vests that authority in the executive branch, I think it’s good for all branches, and I think it would be good for our counterterrorism program.

For full committee testimony, including footage of the hearing, visit: