ACLU Calls on Congress to Maintain Oversight During Any U.S. Military Action

September 20, 2001 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — In a letter sent today to Congressional leaders, the American Civil Liberties Union urged Congress to aggressively assert its proper constitutional role in determining any use of American military force in response to last week’s terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

“The language of the resolution adopted by Congress last week, while broad, cannot and should not be construed by either the President or Congress as a blank check,” said Timothy Edgar, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Rather, Congress must continue to play an important role in the national debate as to the size and scope of any possible military engagement that evolve over time.”

The ACLU letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle noted that Congress last week explicitly chose not to declare war but instead acted under the War Powers Act, a measure adopted in 1973 by Congress as one means of reasserting its vital constitutional role in the decision to commit American forces to battle.

Last week’s joint resolution complied with the requirements of the War Powers Act, Edgar said, but the ACLU is concerned that Congress not simply delegate its war powers to the President or allow a military response to the attacks to spill over into a wider war without Congressional approval.

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