1. Update
  2. U.S. Wars & Militarism

A Repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF is Long Overdue

By Don Chen, September 12, 2019


On Sept. 10, FCNL joined 61 other groups from across the political spectrum to urge Congress to reassert its authority over war by repealing the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). The 2002 Iraq AUMF is what allowed the U.S. to levy war against the Saddam Hussein regime. Now, 17 years after its enactment, it is long past time to put this law to rest.

Military plane at sunset.

In a joint letter to House and Senate negotiators working on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the groups urged adoption of a House-passed provision that would repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF. Differing versions of the NDAA have been passed in each chamber, and negotiators are working to craft a version for final approval.

The original purpose of the 2002 Iraq AUMF was to defend the U.S. against the Saddam Hussein regime’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction. This has long been irrelevant. Iraq never had such weapons and Hussein was overthrown in 2003. Further, unlike the 2001 AUMF, repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF would have no impact on current military operations. The effect of repeal would be to prevent current and future presidents from misusing it to justify new wars that Congress has not authorized.

This letter is just the latest development in a growing bipartisan movement to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF.

This letter is just the latest development in a growing bipartisan movement to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF. Earlier this month, FCNL brought a coalition of advocacy groups from across the political spectrum together to write a letter to congressional leadership that named repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF as a key priority for the NDAA. The Heritage Foundation also announced its endorsement of the provision in a recent report, saying that “[r]epealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF is good policy as it is no longer necessary; its primary purpose has been accomplished.”

The bipartisan support for repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF extends to Congress, too. The House NDAA provision was favored by 242 representatives on both sides of the aisle. And a Senate measure to repeal the 2002 AUMF (S.J. Res. 13), drafted by Sens. Tim Kaine (VA) and Todd Young (IN), has an equal number of Democratic and Republican cosponsors.

Simply put, there is broad, bipartisan backing for the repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF. We hope that Reps. Adam Smith and Michael McCaul and Sens. James Inhofe (OK) and Jack Reed (RI) ensure this provision is retained in the final NDAA, given their leadership positions on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

Repealing the 2002 AUMF is a crucially important step towards ending the Forever Wars and encouraging a more peaceful U.S. foreign policy. FCNL will continue to work to urge Congress to repeal this outdated law and reassert its constitutional powers over matters of war.

Letter FCNL Joins 60+ Groups Urging Repeal of 2002 AUMF in Defense Policy Bill 

House and Senate negotiators are currently working on a final policy bill that will direct the Pentagon’s efforts over the next year. On Sept. 10, FCNL joined a diverse group of organizations from across the ideological spectrum in sending a letter to House and Senate leaders of the Armed Services Committees. Together they urged them to preserve the Lee amendment to repeal of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA).

What We're Writing on AUMF Repeal 

We've written extensively on the need to repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs. These collected resources reflect our stance on endless war, and our efforts to end it.

Don Chen

  • Program Assistant, Militarism and Human Rights

Don is the Program Assistant for Militarism and Human Rights. He works to move U.S. foreign policy towards a more peaceful and ethical direction, primarily supporting efforts to end the war in Afghanistan and repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Don works with nationwide grassroots supporters, coalition partners, members of Congress, and legislative staff to reduce the human cost of American foreign policy.