I’m going to go out on a limb and claim that, if a hawk like John McCain says that the Pentagon’s assertion of its own authority to wage war is “disturbing,” then something might be extremely wrong.
According to Defense News:
“The Obama administration’s armed drone program, which reaches from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Yemen to Somalia, has prompted many Republican, Democratic and Independent senators to question whether the post-9/11 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) resolution is outdated.”
The Senators think it is time to pass a new authorization. They are looking at the 2001 authorization as a legally binding agreement, for understandable reasons. But they may be confused. Because it now seems as if that authorization was not so much a law as much as it was something like the lightning that first animated Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. The Pentagon is off the table and ready to go where it wants and provide itself with anything else it needs. What it doesn’t want, is to give back any authority to Congress.
One senator wanted to know how the Pentagon could possibly be waging drone war on the Yemen on the basis of the 2001 document. Michael Sheehan, assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, would not consent:
“Sheehan coolly replied that al-Qaida already had a foothold in Yemen in September 2001, saying that means the existing resolution covers any U.S. military or covert mission there.”
John McCain was not convinced by any of the Pentagon’s reasoning. He said,
“McCain said the 2001 resolution ‘clearly’ needs to be revised ‘because of the changing nature’ of the fight against al-Qaida. ‘It has spread throughout North Africa, throughout the Maghreb’ McCain told the DoD witnesses. ‘The situation’s changed dramatically… For you to come here and say, “We don’t need to change it,” I think, is disturbing.’ Sheehan told McCain Pentagon legal officials ‘have reviewed it’ and have determined the existing resolution is sufficient for the military’s needs.”
Amazingly, this means that McCain was in agreement with the independent Senator from Maine, Angus King. King accused the Pentagon of virtually re-writing the Constitution. It now says whatever they want it to say because they say so.
“A fiery McCain said he is worried the Pentagon wants to maintain the status quo because the 2001 AUMF gives the military ‘carte blanche’ to do anything it wants around the globe.”
He also expressed puzzlement on why the Pentagon was opposing the Senate giving the Armed Forces the actual authority to expand their war: “I’m not sure why you’d oppose a revision”—that is, an expansion.
I’ll tell you why, John: They think they are too good for you. The Pentagon is now a government unto itself with the President as its commander in chief. Going to Congress to get authorized to expand the war (as they have already illegally done) is beneath them.
How long does the Pentagon expect to keep going in this way? At least twenty more years. We are going to have a forever war.