The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub. L. 107-40, codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 and any "associated forces". The authorization granted the President the authority to use all "necessary and appropriate force" against those whom he determined "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.
The AUMF was signed by President George W. Bush on September 18, 2001. As of December 2016, the Office of the President published a brief interpreting the AUMF as providing Congressional authorization for the use of force against al-Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups.
The only representative to vote against the Authorization in 2001 was Barbara Lee, who has consistently criticized it since for being a blank check giving the government unlimited powers to wage war without debate. Lee has initiated several attempts to repeal the authorization since. On June 29, 2017, a group of libertarian Republicans and Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee approved Lee’s amendment to end the 2001 authorization within 240 days, which would have forced debate on a replacement authorization. This amendment was removed from the bill by the Rules Committee so the AUMF remains in effect. Business Insider has reported that the AUMF has been used to allow military action in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, and Somalia.
To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.
- Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens; and
- Whereas, such acts render it both necessary and appropriate that the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad; and
- Whereas, in light of the threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by these grave acts of violence; and
- Whereas, such acts continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States; and
- Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States: Now, therefore, be it
- Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
Section 1 – Short Title
This joint resolution may be cited as the 'Authorization for Use of Military Force'.
Section 2 – Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces
(a) IN GENERAL- 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.
(b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-
- (1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
- (2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.
An initial draft of Senate Joint Resolution 23 included language granting the power "to deter and preempt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States.” Members were concerned that this would provide "a blank check to go anywhere, anytime, against anyone the Bush administration or any subsequent administration deemed capable of carrying out an attack" and the language was removed. Constitutional law specialist professor Bruce Ackerman of Yale Law School has said that the Obama Administration's use of the AUMF has so far overstepped the authorized powers of the final, enacted version of the bill as to more closely resemble the capabilities named in this draft text rejected by Congress.
On September 14, 2001 Senate Joint Resolution 23 passed in the Senate by roll call vote. The totals in the Senate were: 98 Ayes, 0 Nays, 2 Present/Not Voting (Senators Larry Craig, R–ID, and Jesse Helms, R–NC).
On September 14, 2001 the House passed House Joint Resolution 64. The totals in the House of Representatives were 420 ayes, 1 nay and 10 not voting. The sole nay vote was by Barbara Lee, D-CA. Lee was the only member of either house of Congress to vote against the bill.
Lee opposed the wording of the AUMF, not the action it represented. She believed that a response was necessary but feared the vagueness of the document was similar to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The Tonkin act was repealed in 1970 amid discussion of its facilitation of the Vietnam war and its potential to enable a new incursion in Cambodia.
Reason: Guantanamo Bay has a population that is severely skewed, asimetric, and there are no expectations of neutrality, therefore constituting a competent tribunal on Guantanamo Bay would be impossible.
The AUMF has also been cited by a wide variety of US officials as justification for continuing US military actions all over the world. Often the phrases "Al-Qaeda and associated forces" or "affiliated forces" have been used by these officials. However, that phrase does not appear in the AUMF.
According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, published May 11, 2016, at that time the 2001 AUMF had been cited 37 times in connection with actions in 14 countries and on the high seas. The report stated that "Of the 37 occurrences, 18 were made during the Bush Administration, and 19 have been made during the Obama Administration." The countries that were mentioned in the report included Afghanistan, Cuba (Guantanamo Bay), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Philippines, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. 
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