This is another in AnonyÓðinn‘s ongoing series of essays examining the political and economic underpinnings of our current, and somewhat fraught, situation. Socioeconomic assumptions that lay unexamined for the past forty or fifty years must now be reviewed, tested against current laws, current political climate, and current economic realities, and if they do not apply, must be discarded. Odinn is one of the few we know who is actively working on the “what next” part of this equation; it makes little sense to tear down corrupt institutions that are central to our civilization if we have nothing viable with which to replace them.
Here AnonyOdin updates a 2013 essay to take into account President Obama’s recent push for yet greater powers to declare war. Make no mistake: ISIS is a problem. But so is White House overreach.
Understanding the AUMF and the 9/11 Attitude
(originally authored April 23, 2013, edited February 11, 2015 upon the USA’s announcement of a new war and a new AUMF ~ reflecting upon the past thirteen years of war since 9/11/2001)
To understand why we have come to this disturbing point in which the federal government (Congress and the President) have signed into law elements of the NDAA in 2012 and 2013 that are offensive to our due process rights (which resulted in a case contesting this); and where now, we see certain State legislators apparently and unfortunately mimicking this unconstitutional approach in proposed State law; and where we also now see the United States prepared to cast itself into another thirteen years of war, we need to look back into our 9/11 history to understand how those events shaped legislators’ attitudes toward laws relating to our due process, as well as governments’ attitudes towards issues of warmaking generally.
During both the Bush era and now, during the Obama Administration, there have been attempts by government to claim that the AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force, the joint Congressional resolution passed on Sept. 14, 2001) extends throughout the United States. The White House claimed in 2005 that a broad and sweeping authority to monitor U.S. citizens here and abroad was implicitly granted in the joint Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force passed shortly after 9/11. But in the Washington Post of Dec. 23, 2005, Senator Daschle stated that the Bush administration requested, but was denied, the authority it now claims it was granted. I quote Daschle: “Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words ‘in the United States and’ after ‘appropriate force’ in the agreed-upon text. This last-minute change would have given the President broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas — where we all understood he wanted authority to act — but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused.” Numerous other legislators did, as well.
As Daschle’s statement makes clear, the legislative extent of the AUMF was never expressly granted by Congress to extend implementation of the powers within the United States. But don’t take my word for it: Even the CRS report on the the AUMF – a report issued by Congress itself – confirms this. ( You can find a copy of the report here) Yet the Obama Administration has tried very hard to make the case that the AUMF does allow it sweeping powers within the United States, both in the NDAA detention case, and now for a Cybersecurity Executive order. Clearly, the AUMF never granted President Obama the powers within the United States that he has repeatedly claimed in the past that it does, as a brief study of the issue confirms. Yet, various of President Obama’s legal actions cite the 2001 AUMF as a partial basis for its domestic surveillance actions, as described above, despite that the AUMF never had the words “in the United States” added to it after “appropriate force” at the time of its creation, as (Sen.) Daschle pointed out on Dec. 23, 2005.
On April 28, 2014, in Hedges v. Obama, a case which was making its way before the US Supreme Court challenging the NDAA as passed by the US Congress and signed into law by Obama, the rule of law itself was roundly rejected by the US Supreme Court and the final nail was placed into the coffin of the rule of law in the United States. In this case, what was challenged was the President’s power established through the 2012 NDAA to capture and detain – without charges or trial – any US citizen suspected of terrorism and then, indefinitely detain that person. That means, forever. The US Supreme Court turned away several times the attempts of the challengers, letting a lower court’s decision stand, which had itself argued that not one of the challengers had standing (essentially, the court said, you would have to be indefinitely detained forever in a black pit before you would be able to prove to a court that you were injured somehow, and by then you’d be dead, so ha, ha). The rule of law in the USA is dead and is no more.
No due process, no law. Start over.
On Feb. 11, 2015, Obama, using ISIL as a mask, launched an even more expanded militarization around the world, creating a new AUMF, while in his own statement on the new AUMF, he acknowledged that “my proposed AUMF does not address the 2001 AUMF,” and there is no indication that the 2001 would ever be repealed despite many promises from politicians to the contrary. Sadly, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that those in charge actually want another thirteen years of war, though after thirteen years of seeing people being fed to this meat grinder this comes as no surprise.
It will come as little surprise that this President will seize upon ISIL as an opportunity to expand militarism, surveillance, and expansion of growth of violent governmental responses around the world. To say that ISIL should be dealt by the people who are proximately affected by it would be an understatement, but to use or abuse this notion to invite the USA into more and greater prolonged conflicts around the world, after thirteen years of pointless and sick war which the world has been subjected to, would be just as horrifying as inviting ISIS itself into your own home or lands. Would you willingly invite an occupying force into your country? The people of Kobane and Cizirê have done a far better job of defending their own keep with what little resources they have than the USA can do for them.
Many legislators have been unable to escape the “9/11 attitude” even when they personally acknowledge that in a post-9/11 world it is especially important to stand up for values that people care for, including the rights expressed within a country’s Constitution, while respecting people’s attempts to engage outside of this framework as well in the context of mutual aid and support or post-national development. The “governments'” or better said, corporation-states’ fear of change in society causes them often to react in knee-jerk ways to attempt to individually or collectively restrain rights, in hopes that this will somehow hold back the march of progress or time itself. It will not. The world will change, and we will change with it. But we can continue to respect each other as we do so.
To begin with, lawmakers of today should start by ensuring that no action they take ever infringes upon the fundamental Constitutional rights nor attempts to lash out against other branches of government due to fear of the effects of the system of checks and balances upon which we have relied, rather successfully, for so long.
And beyond that, to respect the life and freedom of all who move and explore the realm of post-national development and cryptoanarchistic societies, will perhaps be one of the most important things the corporation-states (the ‘govt’s’) can do:
To let us live and let live.
To step back, instead of to lash out and kill.
To stop arresting those of us who are astronauts in a virtual space and co-creators of the new tomorrow.
To let us do what they failed to: To build a better future, together.
Instead of dropping bombs and estimating collateral, cut your spending, listen for who is dropping wisdom, and learn from reflecting on the silence.