10th anniversary of dubious military authorization

Ten years ago this today, the United States set itself on a destructive course.

That was the day President George W. Bush signed the bill that Congress had just passed called the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Ten years later, America’s use of military force is still going strong, with wars from Afghanistan to Pakistan, from Iraq to Yemen, and from Libya to the Horn of Africa.

Under this law, the president has unlimited power to use force against anyone in the world — that’s any nation, organization, person, associated forces and so forth who the president determines was in any way involved in the attacks of 9/11.

There’s no geographical limit. And there’s no time limit.

The president has that power forever. He (or someday she) can try to use it to support an entire domestic spying initiative contrary to established law, as we first learned in 2005.

That’s when it became known that Bush was authorizing the National Security Agency to break the law that required warrants for the monitoring of the phone calls and emails of individuals and organizations inside the United States. At the time, it was a scandal for the NSA to be searching for evidence of terrorist activity minus the court-approved warrants required for domestic spying under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

Now, thanks to congressional amendments to the law in 2008, that previously unlawful activity has legal backing.

Like Bush before him, President Barack Obama claims that the Authorization for Use of Military Force gives him the right not only to make war and kill people, but also to capture anyone he suspects of terrorism anywhere in the world and imprison them forever without trial.

Similarly, the Obama administration uses the authorization to defend its policy of using targeted killings against suspects in the so-called war on terror even if they are way outside a war zone — in addition to American citizens, such as in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki.

Obama ran for president on his record as a constitutional law professor and promised to return transparency and lawfulness to America’s governing structures. Now, unforgivably, he is embracing summary executions.

The Authorization for Use of Military Force was always an invitation to presidential abuse of power. We should withdraw it right away.

• Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights.


Wed, 02/22/2017 - 11:53

Stand with Alaskans and stand with Planned Parenthood

I appreciate Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s recent decision to support repealing the Trump administration’s global gag rule. The global gag rule bans federal money for overseas family planning programs if the programs also provide abortion, or provide information about abortion. The global gag rule puts thousands of lives at risk, and Murkowski has rightly recognized that. I praise Murkowski, and want her to know that Alaskans stand with her in supporting access to family planning services. This means that we support Planned Parenthood, and we hope she will stand with us in the coming weeks by refusing to vote for any changes to the Affordable Care Act that include defunding Planned Parenthood. Read more

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:42

Alaska editorial: The opioid issue

This editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

Read more
Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:41

Expanding apprenticeship in rural Alaska

We are proud to announce a new statewide training initiative: the Alaska Maritime Apprenticeship Program. Over the past year, the Calista Corporation, in partnership with the state and federal government, has built a Registered Apprenticeship program to train Alaskans for careers on deck, in the engine room, and in the galley, earning both a salary and an industry-recognized credential. Working with a group of companies including Brice Marine and Yukon River Towing, we are expanding career and training opportunities for Alaskans in the maritime industry.

Read more
Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:40

Transboundary mining: Defending Alaska’s interests

It is a big week for Alaska’s capital city. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan are in town to address the Alaska State Legislature, the United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) Board of Directors, and all Alaskans. There are a number of issues on which the state of Alaska, including our elected decision makers at both the state and federal levels, can show unity. One of those critical issues is asking the U.S. federal government to defend Alaskan interests in the Alaska-British Columbia (B.C.) transboundary mining issue.

Read more


  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback