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The Obama administration is calling on Congress to fully repeal the war authorization in Iraq to ensure that no U.S. troops return to the country, which is under siege by the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).
White House national security adviser Susan Rice petitioned Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio) in a letter Friday to completely repeal the war authorization, officially known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq, or AUMF.
Rice’s letter was sent as Congress just hours before it approved a resolution opposing U.S. military intervention in Iraq, where the terrorist group ISIL claims to have established an Islamic caliphate.
“We believe a more appropriate and timely action for Congress to take is the repeal of the outdated 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq,” Rice wrote, according to a copy of her letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
“With American combat troops having completed their withdrawal from Iraq on December 18, 2011, the Iraq AUMF is no longer used for any U.S. government activities and the administration fully supports its repeal,” Rice wrote. “Such a repeal would go much further in giving the American people confidence that ground forces will not be sent into combat in Iraq.”
The repeal would come at a complicated – and some argue dangerous – time in Iraq’s history.
ISIL has continued to make military gains as the Iraqi army struggles to combat the terror group’s campaign.
ISIL has already moved to impose an extreme form of Islamic law on Iraqi citizens, including ordering all women to wear a face veil and threatening violence for disobedience.
“When Speaker Boehner told me about Ms. Rice’s letter, I thought he was joking," said Rep. Buck McKeon (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in a statement.
"Obama Administration officials are warning us daily that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is ‘worse than al-Qaeda’ and an extreme threat to the American people," McKeon said. "The American people aren’t worried that the president will send the military back to Iraq. They’re worried about a deadly terrorist state that can hit us from Wall Street to Main Street. They’re worried that this president refuses to do anything, at anytime, in any way, to stop the flood of national security crises that are popping up around the globe."
The Senate has sought several times in the past years to reconsider the AUMFs pertaining to Iraq and Afghanistan as both wars wound down.
Senate Democrats have expressed a willingness to repeal the Iraq AUMF, a move that critics say would be dangerous to the United States’ ongoing fight against terror.
A repeal of the war authority could also be a boon for ISIL and would send a clear sign that the United States is not willing to stop the militant group from making gains.
"There is no strong reason to change the AUMF,” John Yoo, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Bush administration, told the Free Beacon earlier this year, when the Senate was considering altering the AUMFs. “Over the last 13 years, all three branches have constructed a common understanding and series of practices around the AUMF in fighting the war on terror.”
“You break the dam to some extent if you break the AUMF,” a senior Senate aide also said at the time.
Congress should “tread carefully because the war on terror is not over and won’t be soon,” the source said. “You could start us down a path of repeal that you can’t turn back.”
“This isn’t just absurd. We’re past absurd. This is dangerous," said Rep. McKeon. "This administration is fiddling while the world burns, and now they’re demanding Congress play with them."