This wildly expansive authorization would, in essence, make the war on terror a permanent and limitless aspect of life on earth, along with its huge potential for abuse.
The Authorization for Use of Military Force, approved by Congress a week after Sept. 11, 2001, gives the president the power to go after anyone who committed or aided in the 9/11 attacks, or who harbored such people, to prevent acts of terrorism. It was this document that authorized the war in Afghanistan and the raid on Bin Laden’s compound.
A new bill, approved last week by the House Armed Services Committee and heading for the floor this month, would go much further. It would allow military attacks against not just Al Qaeda and the Taliban but also any “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States.” That deliberately vague phrase could include anyone who doesn’t like America, even if they are not connected in any way with the 2001 attacks. It could even apply to domestic threats.