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

Hindsight is 2020, Repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF

By Julia Gledhill, October 16, 2020


Eighteen years ago today, President Bush signed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq (2002 Iraq AUMF) into law.

The authorization granted congressional approval to use the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq to “defend the national security of the United States” and “to strictly enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.”

This year alone, the House twice passed bills to repeal the 2002 AUMF.

The invasion was, however, premised on several blithe assumptions. Most notably, the administration claimed that the Saddam Hussein regime was linked to al Qaeda, and that it possessed weapons of mass destruction. Congress approved the 2002 Iraq AUMF based on what we now know was false pretense.

While the 2002 Iraq AUMF authorized a war that officially ended in 2011, both the Obama and Trump administrations subsequently interpreted the authorization more broadly, stating that it provides “alternative statutory basis” for other military operations against ISIS in Iraq, Syria, and possibly “elsewhere.”

In February, the Trump administration went even further, citing the 2002 Iraq AUMF to justify the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani. Legal scholars rejected this claim, and Congress responded by passing a resolution under the War Powers Act directing the termination of hostilities against Iran. President Trump subsequently vetoed this resolution.

Since 2011, members of Congress have introduced over thirty bills and amendments to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF. This year alone, the House twice passed bills to repeal the 2002 AUMF, first as part of the No War Against Iran Act in January and then again in July as part of the annual defense spending bill.

Bipartisan support for repealing this authorization continues to grow.

Through their unwavering advocacy to stop endless wars, FCNL’s staff and grassroots advocates have worked tirelessly to influence these historic congressional actions to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF and reassert congressional war powers.

Bipartisan support for repealing this authorization continues to grow. To mark today’s anniversary, FCNL partnered with 11 other groups from across the political spectrum to call for preserving in the annual defense spending bill, the House provision to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF. As the letter states:

“We have seen successive presidents periodically reframe their interpretation of the 2002 Iraq AUMF, stretching its scope to cover unrelated military activities that were not authorized, let alone, contemplated, by Congress 18 years ago. Leaving it in place ensures that the authorization remains susceptible to misuse, providing an opportunity for this or any future president to draw the United States into unforeseen and unauthorized armed conflicts.”

As you continue to lobby for peace and ending endless war, you can help achieve this by encouraging your representatives and senators to continue taking bold steps to exercise their powers over war and peace and to publicly call for repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF.

Letter Bipartisan Coalition Urges Congress to Repeal 2002 Iraq AUMF 

Today, on the 18th anniversary of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq (2002 Iraq AUMF), FCNL and a bipartisan coalition of advocacy groups called for repealing this outdated, unnecessary, and dangerous authorization.

Background The 2002 Iraq AUMF: What It Is and Why Congress Should Repeal It 

Over the last two years, congressional support for repealing the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has grown.

Julia Gledhill

  • Program Assistant, Militarism & Human Rights

Julia Gledhill is the program assistant for militarism and human rights. She advocates for U.S. foreign policy centered on diplomacy and human security through her work with coalition partners, members of Congress, and FCNL’s grassroots network.