The Obama administration designed the language of its unconstitutional AUMF to be vague, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, admitted on Wednesday.
Earnest said the proposal was left undefined “because we believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander in chief.”
Critics interpret this to mean the executive branch of the government wants to expand the reach of the imperial presidency and allow it to wage war against ill-defined enemies anywhere in the world.
Additionally, the administration believes the deliberately ambiguous AUMF, or Authorization for the Use of Military Force, will bring lawmakers together in a bipartisan coalition calling for a war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq without restraint, including the use of ground troops.
Republicans are concerned the proposed AUMF will not provide the authority they believe is required to eliminate the Islamic State.
House Speaker John Boehner, a Michigan Democrat, said he is concerned the latest AUMF will not give “military commanders the flexibility and authorities they need to succeed and protect our people.”
Few in Congress have questioned the constitutionality of the proposed AUMF or two previous ones used to wage war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen following the attacks of September 11, 2001.
“In constitutional reality the President has no such sole authority,” notes Greg Weiner. “The President’s plenary ‘national security’ power is a phantom; it simply is not there in the Constitution. Like most constitutional authorities, the national security power is shared. It entails the war power, which belongs to Congress, the spending power (Congress’ too), military regulations (again) and other areas of policy that are not the President’s alone to decide.”
Republicans, however, take a different approach on the AUMF and the possibility it may limit the use of ground troops.
Arizona Republican Senator John McCain told reporters he would consider any such language as “unconstitutional,” declaring the Constitution gives the president the power to use the military to intervene abroad at his discretion.