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Jan 19, 2021

The so-called war on terror will soon be twenty years old -- and there is no end in sight. The legal basis for this endless war is grounded in two authorizations for the use of military force (AUMFs), passed in 2001 and 2002. AUMFs are designed to keep presidents accountable to Congress, stopping short of formal declarations of war. However, the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs specify no geographic bounds or sunset provisions. They have been interpreted by every president since 2001 to authorize military action anywhere. Congress fails to challenge this expansive interpretation of executive authority. In this episode, host Mark Hannah is joined by Heather Brandon Smith (from the Friends Committee on National Legislation) and Rita Siemion (from Human Rights First), both experts on AUMFs and advocates for their repeal. They discuss the history of these AUMFs, why repealing them is necessary to end America’s endless wars, and the prospects for reform under the Biden administration.

Heather Brandon Smith is the legislative director for militarism and human rights at the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, DC. She teaches law at Georgetown University and was formerly the advocacy counsel for national security at Human Rights First. She holds LL.M.s from the Georgetown University Law Center and the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia. You can follow Heather on Twitter at @HBrandonSmith.

Rita Siemion is the director for national security advocacy at Human Rights First in Washington, DC. She teaches law at the Georgetown University Law Center and American University's Washington College of Law. Formerly Rita was senior counsel at the Constitution Project. She holds an LL.M. in National Security Law from the Georgetown University Law Center. You can follow Rita on Twitter at @ritasiemion.