Declared War on Sept. 14, 2001
Michael S. Rozeff
by Michael S. Rozeff: Distortion
of Dorner Manifesto by Mainstream†Media
14, 2001, the U.S. Congress in effect declared war when it passed
for Use of Military Force (AUMF)
as a joint resolution. The vote was overwhelmingly one-sided. In
the House, the vote was 420 Ayes, 1 Nay, and 10 Not Voting. In the
Senate, the vote was 98 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 2 Present/Not Voting.
Rep. Barbara Lee was the nay vote in the House.
One may argue
about the wisdom of this measure and the logic of this measure.
One may evaluate the quality of the measure as law. One may argue
about the conduct of the military operations under the Executive
that has been enabled by this measure. One may evaluate the ramifications
for the U.S. government, for the world, and for Americans. Indeed,
one may form innumerable opinions from many perspectives about this
measure. But one cannot deny that this AUMF set in motion the ongoing
war on terror that is being conducted by the U.S. government.
The Obama administration
has made an effort to change the terminology describing the war.
For example, it doesnít like the words "war on terror",
and it has used substitutes. This effort is not central to the conduct
of the military operations enabled under this resolution. As long
as the resolution remains in place, its existence is what is central.
The Obama administration
was critical of how the Bush administration was conducting military
operations. After it took power, it changed the military operations
in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also began to use more drone attacks
and to use them in countries that Bush had not. These changes in
military operations are also not central to their existence. What
matters is that the resolution authorizes military operations of
broad scope, in ways to be determined by the President. What matters
is that this resolution exists at all.
of the war on terror is prior to the conduct of the war. The conduct
is malleable and can take many forms. As long as the resolution
exists, the war will be conducted somehow. The conduct is important
primarily as it may influence the publicís opinion and the opinion
of the Congress that such a war should exist at all, for there is
no way to end this war without passing a resolution that ends it.
In other words, if the conduct is such that the costs are seen to
be vastly outweighing the benefits, then the chances of ending the
One may argue
about the constitutionality of the resolution, but if it were ever
tested the odds are overwhelming that the resolutionís constitutionality
would be upheld. It is inconceivable that a Supreme Court would
overturn the power to declare war that is vested in the Congress.
public is stuck with this war or even approves of it until large
numbers of voters decide that the results donít justify the costs.
the war. It exercises oversight of the operations. At its discretion,
it or any of its members can mount an effort to alter the course
of the war or even end it altogether. The American people elect
representatives every 2 years. If candidates who want to end the
war can get party nominations and get elected, voters will be able
to influence the existence of this war.
exists legally because Congress has the power to declare war. There
may be no manual that describes what a war declaration should look
like or that defines what a war is, but those uncertainties are
also not central to the existence of this resolution. Under the
U.S. Constitution, Congress has the power to declare war, however
ill-defined it may be and however ill-defined the enemy is. Thatís
the fact that will not go away, no matter what debates concerning
the warís conduct occur. Specifically, the substitution of drones
for ground forces is not disallowed under the AUMF. If the President
identifies Americans as terrorists, the AUMF suspends their rights.
They can be assassinated.
that further. The AUMF states
the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate
force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines
planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks
that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations
or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international
terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations
has been given a free hand in identifying the "enemy"
or "enemies". All he has to do his tie a person to an
"organization" such as al-Qaeda. There is no exception
made for American citizens. There is no distinction between persons
on American soil or in other countries.
"necessary and appropriate force" does not constrain the
President. There is nothing in the AUMF that suggests that killing
an American on American soil cannot be regarded by the President
as "necessary and appropriate". In this situation, any
President will use his discretion, conditioned on how he thinks
such a killing will affect public opinion about his conduct of the
There is nothing
unusual in Eric Holder or other administration spokespersons trying
to keep their death-dealing options open. They have been authorized
by the Congress to use lethal force if they so choose.
The point I
am making is that the AUMF itself is what needs to be questioned,
but behind that is the even more basic provision in the Constitution
that gives a Congress the power to declare war, and of course the
power to tax in order to fund a war.
In a condition
of war, civil liberties tend to get overridden. The current war
on terror, now over 11 years old, shows this. For any number of
reasons, this war shows no signs of ending. It is actually spreading
to more lands. The connection to an "organization" or
"persons" that are in any way linked to 9/11 is now exceedingly
remote, but the use of military force continues. This is not logical.
It is not legal. Itís happening nonetheless because the pro-war
forces are driving it. There is no apparent political force that
is stopping it. Under these conditions, the prognosis for civil
liberties is anything but good.
power to tax that Congress was given in the Constitution was certainly
a very bad idea, and it is not unrelated to the power to declare
war. Has Congress ever seen a war that it didnít like? American
history is one long catalog of war after war after war. Congress
has now foisted upon us a never-ending war.
It is all well
and good to debate drone warfare and the killing of Americans overseas
or on American soil. However, itís my opinion that these debates
are not searching enough. They do not go to the heart of the matter,
which is that Congress has the power to declare war and did it on
Sept. 14, 2001. That power needs to be questioned in the most serious
and searching way. The misuse of that power has been endemic in
American history. That is but one facet of what should be a broad
public debate and examination of the even more fundamental issue,
which is making citizenship or membership under the Federal government
an optional matter.
S. Rozeff [send him mail]
is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.
He is the author of the free e-book Essays
on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book
The U.S. Constitution
and Money: Corruption and Decline.
© 2013 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Best of Michael S. Rozeff