May 20, 2013

Regarding the May 16 editorial “Revising the terms of war”:

A renewed debate of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force is long overdue. As the only member of Congress to vote against the authorization when it came to the House floor in 2001, I have been pushing for full repeal of this overly broad, deeply concerning law that gives any president the authority to wage war at any time, in any place, for nearly any purpose. It has reportedly been invoked dozens of times around the world, including to deploy troops in Ethiopia, Yemen and the Philippines.

The law allows for a state of perpetual war, which we cannot and must not sustain. Our troops, our nation and our reputation around the world depend on it.

This time we need the kind of full debate we did not have in 2001. We can’t just tweak the authorization — we have to repeal it. For the integrity of our Constitution, we must ensure that we have full accountability and transparency in our nation’s war powers.

Barbara Lee, Washington

The writer, a Democrat from California, is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Post editorial was premature at best. The war authorized in 2001 is ongoing and will not end until the military drawdown in Afghanistan in 2014. President Obama then will have to decide whether military campaigns against al-Qaeda or other groups are necessary. Only if he decides they are should Congress debate and vote on whether to authorize them.

Kate Martin, Washington

The writer is director of the Center for National Security Studies.

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