Farewell to arms: a plan for evaluating the 2001 authorization for use of military force and its alternatives
Kirschbraun, Jessica Lynn
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On September 14, 2001, Congress passed the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Over the past 13 years, the AUMF has served as the primary legal foundation for the use of force against terrorist organizations and other counterterrorist operations. Since its passage, threats facing the United States have evolved and new groups have emerged. Yet, Congress has failed to reexamine the statute. This thesis examines whether the AUMF serves as the proper foundation for addressing current terrorist threats or whether an alternative legal tool is more appropriate. To conduct this examination, it details and applies a methodology, or analytical framework, for assessing the status quo application of the AUMF and its potential alternatives. This thesis evaluates and ascertains the best among proposed courses of actions for the future of the AUMF by analyzing the evolution of terrorist threats, constitutional concerns, the consequences of altering the legal structure upon which national counterterrorism strategies rely, international legality, and precedent. Ultimately, this thesis recommends that Congress both sunset the AUMF and implement a tailored approach to force authorization, one that balances constitutional protections and security, while providing a foundation for crafting future force authorizations.
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