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Tackling a complex and divisive issue in an election year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next month will debate whether and how to revise or replace the nearly 17-year-old resolution that underpins America’s open-ended, borderless war on terrorism, the panel’s chairman announced Tuesday.
Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump have invoked the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which essentially declared war on al-Qaida and set the stage for the invasion of Afghanistan, to justify using deadly force overseas — overtly, covertly, by sending in troops, ordering drone strikes, acting with or without congressional authority, with allies or unilaterally, and sometimes in ways that test the bounds of international law. They have also used the 2002 AUMF that gave the green light to the invasion of Iraq. The Trump administration most recently said the two measures permit him to keep troops in Syria and Iraq indefinitely.
Amid bipartisan calls for overhauling — or rescinding — those authorizations, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday that his panel will meet April 19 to discuss their possible “replacement and revision.”
“It’s been an issue that’s been before us for many years,” he said. “Many people were concerned about [it] because it has been so long since they were enacted. We have activities taking place around the world, still, based on those two authorizations.”
Several proposals for overhauling the president’s legal authority to make war have been floated in Congress in recent years, never quite gaining the political traction required for a proper debate, much less a vote. It was not clear which proposal the committee would debate.
“The way this AUMF is being constructed at present, when we go into new countries, when we take on new groups, the Senate would have the ability to weigh in on those issues,” Corker said.
That seemed to echo a proposal from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), which would explicitly authorize making war on ISIS, al-Qaida and the Taliban, as well as “associated forces,” to be defined by the administration and Congress.
It’s not clear what position the Trump administration will take. The White House has repeatedly said it will not seek a new vote on the president’s war powers.
The United States has declared war formally just five times in its history, against 11 different countries: for the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II. Technically, America’s longest war — the Afghanistan operation launched after Sept. 11 — isn’t a declared war. Neither were military operations in Korea, Vietnam, Panama or Iraq.
Obama sent Congress an AUMF request related to the so-called Islamic State in February 2015. It was dead on arrival.
The proposal reflected Obama’s national security aides’ desire that his hands not be tied. The document would have authorized airstrikes in Iraq and Syria over the following three years. It would have forbidden the use of American ground troops in “enduring offensive ground combat operations” — a term the Obama White House publicly described as deliberately vague. It also would have allowed strikes against “individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside ISIL” anywhere in the world.
Democrats balked at supporting such a sweeping measure. Republicans pointed to the three-year limit and the ground combat language to argue that it would bind the hands of Obama’s successor.
The truth is that both sides saw political peril in the president’s proposal. The role Hillary Clinton’s support for the Iraq War played in her 2008 defeat haunted Democrats. And Republicans, who could have voted to remove the language they describe as objectionable, preferred to criticize Obama’s handling of the conflict without taking any steps that might make them co-owners of the strategy.
A lawmaker truly bent on forcing a debate on authorizing military action against, for instance, President Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria could try to use the 1973 Wars Powers Resolution, a law born of congressional anger at the way successive presidents expanded the conflict in Vietnam.
The law requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of introducing U.S. armed forces into conflict or into situations in which conflict is imminent. It also requires the withdrawal of U.S. forces after 60 days, with one 30-day extension, absent a declaration of war or an AUMF.
There’s a catch: Invoking the War Powers Resolution to force a debate would also require congressional action. And while presidents have cooperated with the reporting requirements, not one has formally accepted the resolution as setting constitutionally valid restrictions on the commander in chief.
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A deputy was suspended this week after he was found sleeping during the time he was supposed to be patrolling Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Around 5 p.m. Monday, a student alerted a sergeant patrolling the interior of the high school that Broward County Deputy Moises Carotti was asleep in a marked patrol car, according to a statement from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Seventeen people were killed last month in a mass shooting at the school.
The sergeant then located the patrol car parked outside and knocked on the window to get Carotti’s attention, as he appeared to be asleep. Another deputy was sent to replace Carotti, who had been assigned to patrol the north perimeter of the school.
Carotti was suspended with pay on Tuesday, pending an internal affairs investigation.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called the incident “outrageous.”
“Of all the schools in America, you would think this would be the safest one right now,” Rubio said Tuesday in the statement. “This is so outrageous it’s almost impossible to believe.”
Deputies had arrested Zachary Cruz, the 18-year-old brother of the suspect in last month’s shooting at the school, for trespassing on the school’s property about 30 minutes before Carotti was found asleep. School officials had warned Cruz to stay away from the school, but he said he decided to skateboard through the campus to “reflect on the school shooting and to soak it in,” according to the arrest affidavit.
Carotti’s alleged on-duty nap is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the Broward Couny Sheriff’s Office.
Scot Peterson, the deputy assigned to the high school as its school resource officer, resigned last month after it was reported that he did not enter the school during the massacre and did not engage with the shooter.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has also been criticized, both for his office’s response to the shooting and for how authorities handled numerous reports of concern they received from community members about the suspected Parkland gunman in the years leading up to the shooting.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) stated Tuesday that he wanted armed law enforcement officers at every entry of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and offered to send Florida Highway Patrol officers to assist if needed.
On Tuesday, a sophomore from the high school was arrested for making a threat on social media. Two other students were arrested in separate, unrelated incidents for bringing knives into the school, according to the sheriff’s office.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
Billionaire J.B. Pritzker won Illinois’ Democratic gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, defeating five rivals on the strength of record-setting campaign spending.
Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel chain and former private equity magnate, spent nearly $70 million of his own fortune to clinch the Democratic nomination ― more money than any Illinois candidate has ever spent in a statewide race.
Pritzker, 53, is due to face off against Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in a November election that analysts predict will shatter even more fundraising records. Rauner, who is himself a multimillionaire from a career in private equity, has already set aside $50 million for his re-election bid.
“Pritzker’s victory is a victory of both money and ideology. His platform has been basically liberal and appeals to a blue state,” said Dick Simpson, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Pritzker’s considerable campaign war chest allowed him to blanket the airwaves early on to establish his name recognition with voters. His two main rivals, Chris Kennedy, a businessman and son of Robert F. Kennedy, and state Sen. Daniel Biss simply could not match Pritzker’s ad presence.
In a year when the Democratic electorate is energized, the party likes its chances of unseating Rauner, 61, one of the most unpopular governors in the country. Fifty-five percent of Illinois residents disapprove of Rauner’s performance compared with 31 percent who approve of it, according to a Morning Consult poll.
Rauner’s tenure has been defined by virtually incessant conflict with the Democratic-controlled legislature and its influential leader, House Speaker Mike Madigan. The state went without a budget for two years until July 2017 when the legislature overrode the governor’s veto of its spending plan.
From the right, Rauner attracted a conservative challenger, state Rep. Jeanne Ives, who argued that he did not take on public spending and organized labor aggressively enough. Rauner was not confirmed as the victor against Ives until nearly midnight Tuesday, suggesting he has his work cut out for him with the party’s conservative base.
Pritzker ran on a mainstream progressive platform that includes support for a state-level public health insurance option, expanded early childhood education and increased funding for social services that target undocumented immigrants.
Pritzker also benefited from the appeal of his running mate, state Rep. Juliana Stratton. Stratton, an African-American criminal justice reform advocate from Chicago’s South Side, promised “real solutions” to Illinois’ racial disparities in education, economic development and criminal justice.
If elected, Pritzker would be forced to grapple with a looming public employee pension crisis. The state employees’ pension fund faces a $130 billion shortfall.
Unlike Rauner, Pritzker would likely have the benefit of a friendly legislature and labor unions that might be willing to work out a compromise between revenue increases and spending cuts.
With Pritzker as governor, the prospects improve for a “less draconian” resolution to the pension issue, said Simpson, a former Chicago alderman.
But Pritzker brings his fair share of scandals to the table, as well.
In February, The Chicago Tribune published the transcript of an unflattering 2008 phone call he conducted with then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D). Pritzker recommended that Blagojevich select Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White for the Senate seat that opened up when Barack Obama won the presidency. Pritzker argued that White was the “least offensive” potential African-American pick.
Blagojevich, who picked someone else to fill the seat, subsequently was removed from office and sent to prison for soliciting bribes for political appointments.
Pritzker apologized for his comment flanked by African-American officials backing him, including White, who still serves as secretary of state. But Rauner is already trying to tie Pritzker to Blagojevich, who remains synonymous in Illinois with political corruption.
Pritzker was also rocked by the Tribune’s March discovery of previously undisclosed offshore financial assets. Pritzker had previously claimed that all of his offshore funds were family trusts created by his grandfather and used only for charity purposes. But the Tribune found that he created offshore shell companies between 2008 and 2011, decades after his grandfather’s death.
Pritzker’s campaign denied that he has personal investments offshore, but he has only released the first two pages of his income taxes, making the assertion impossible to confirm. Notwithstanding his own offshore investments, Rauner has already slammed Pritzker and his family for hiding “hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“The scandals will become a major focal point of ads between now and November,” Simpson said.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.