Ten years ago this Sunday, Sept. 18, the United States set itself on a destructive course.

That was the day President Bush signed the bill that Congress had just passed called the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Ten years later, America’s use of military force is still going strong, with wars from Afghanistan to Pakistan, from Iraq to Yemen, and from Libya to the Horn of Africa.

Under this law, the president has unlimited power to use force against anyone in the world — that’s any nation, organization, person, associated forces and so forth who the president determines was in any way involved in the attacks of 9/11.

There’s no geographical limit. And there’s no time limit.

The president has that power forever. He (or someday she) can try to use it to support an entire domestic spying initiative contrary to established law, as we first learned in 2005.

That’s when it became known that Bush was authorizing the National Security Agency (NSA) to break the law that required warrants for the monitoring of the phone calls and e-mails of individuals and organizations inside the United States. At the time, it was a scandal for the NSA to be searching for evidence of terrorist activity minus the court-approved warrants required for domestic spying under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

Now, thanks to congressional amendments to the law in 2008, that previously unlawful activity has legal backing.

Like Bush before him, President Obama claims that the Authorization for Use of Military Force gives him the right not only to make war and kill people, but also to capture anyone he suspects of terrorism anywhere in the world and imprison them forever without trial.

Similarly, the Obama administration uses the authorization to defend its policy of using targeted killings against suspects in the so-called war on terror even if they are way outside a war zone — in addition to American citizens, such as in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki.

Obama ran for president on his record as a constitutional law professor and promised to return transparency and lawfulness to America’s governing structures. Now, unforgivably, he is embracing summary executions.

The Authorization for Use of Military Force was always an invitation to presidential abuse of power. We should withdraw it right away.

Michael Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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It's finally setting in: Trump is Trump and he’s not going to change because of winning the nomination.

The new head of the Environmental Protection has a history of suing the agency for trying to do its job.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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