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Pentagon’s Top Officials Support AUMF, While Congress Is Wary

As top national security officials expressed support for President Obama’s proposed authorization for use of military force against the Islamic State, Republican and Democratic senators aired concerns.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday.

The proposed authorization sets a three-year time limit with the possibility of renewal. It would take the place of the 2002 authorization for the war in Iraq.

Carter says the authorization contains the necessary authority and flexibility, citing the lack of geographical limits because the Islamic State is “metastasizing outside Syria and Iraq.”

“ISIL’s momentum has been diminished,” according to Kerry. Although the president has the authority to act against the Islamic State, a formal, congressional authorization would dispel doubts “that Americans are united in this effort,” said Kerry.

He listed a number of Islamic State atrocities, including the crucifixions of children, enslavement of women, persecution of Christian and Yezidi communities, and the destruction of cultural sites. Kerry proceeded to talk about the successes of the international coalition in crippling Islamic State expansion.

Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) recently visited Baghdad and Irbil and said American involvement could have unintended consequences.

“Every single thing the United States is doing right now in Iraq, things that I support – I might add … every single thing that we’re doing is really inuring to the benefit of Iran,” said Corker. “In other words, we’re making Iraq a better place for Iran.”

Iran’s activities are a concern, says Dempsey. He cited the threat of proxies, weapons trafficking, ballistic missile technologies, mines intended to close the Straits of Hormuz, nuclear aspirations and cyber threats perpetrated by the country.

Obama’s AUMF has been met by criticisms from Democrats – who say it could lead to full-scale war – and Republicans, who oppose limits on ground troops and say the commander-in-chief should have discretionary power.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had choice words for the president’s proposal when it was released in February. He called it “utterly stupid,” reported the Hill, and said the Islamic State could use the limiting language to its advantage.

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