Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement on the White House draft of the ISIL AUMF:
I support the President’s call for an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The group represents an existential threat to our allies in the Middle East, has promoted international terrorist acts, has murdered American citizens, and has professed a desire to attack the United States. It has also tortured, raped and abused innocent women and children. The list of brutal acts that it has committed against civilians, journalists, and humanitarian workers is horrifying and if left unchecked, the threat from this group will grow.
I support the President’s call for the limited use of the United States military against ISIL in the draft AUMF. I also support repealing the 2002 AUMF. The section in the ISIL AUMF that needs close Congressional scrutiny is the limitation on the use of the “United States Armed
Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.” In his letter to Congress, President Obama said the AUMF “would not authorize long-term, large-scale ground combat operations like those our Nation conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan.” This section must provide appropriate flexibility to the President, while making the point that we are not well-served by deploying large numbers of U.S. military ground forces to Iraq or Syria.
We must also closely scrutinize the section that defines “associated persons or forces.” As we saw with the 2001 AUMF, the authority granted in this section can be stretched over time and it is our obligation to ensure that it is appropriately tailored to address the threat. The proposed AUMF’s three-year duration should help us to evaluate this need and guard against mission creep.
On issues of war and peace, as difficult as they may be, Congress must assert its authority. While it is not always politically popular, it is appropriate and necessary. We must strike a balance between providing the current Administration with the authorities it needs to ensure national security, while safeguarding against future Executive Branch overreach. In the weeks ahead, I will work closely with my colleagues in the House and Senate as well as the White House to ensure we strike the right balance.