Tillerson, Mattis call for unlimited war authority if 2001 AUMF replaced
If Congress decides to pass a new authorization for use of military force, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis ask that the war authority be unlimited in its time and geographic reach.
During a Senate Foreign Relations Comittee hearing Monday, Tillerson said any new AUMF passed by Congress “should not be time constrained” and “must not be geographically restricted.” He added, legislation that sets a termination date may “unintentionally embolden our enemies.”
Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis both said that no new war authorization was needed, testifying on the Trump administration’s view of those passed in 2001 and 2002, under which US troops have been engaged in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Mattis and Tillerson agreed in testimony that President Donald Trump already has constitutional authority to strike North Korea without new permission from Congress.
“In addition to authorities granted to the President by statute, the President has the power under Article II of the Constitution to use military force in certain circumstances to advance important US national interests, including to defend the United States against terrorist attacks,” Tillerson said in a prepared statement.
Mattis told the Senate panel that “we must recognize that we are in an era of frequent skirmishing, and we are more likely to end this fight sooner if we don’t tell our adversary the day we intend to stop fighting.”
However, Mattis alluded to the possibility of a positive outcome should Congress pass a new war resolution.
“Any new congressional expression of unity, whether or not an AUMF, would present a strong statement to the world of America’s determination,” Mattis said.