By Matthew Rothschild on September 17, 2011

This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of the Authorization for Use of Military Force—the blank check that Congress wrote to George W. Bush in response to the attacks of September 11th. (See the op-ed by Michael Ratner, emeritus president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, on this anniversary)

It granted the President the authority “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”

The bill passed the Senate 98-0 and the House 420-1. Democrat Barbara Lee from California, to her eternal credit, was the only person in the entire Congress to vote against it.

Bush then used this sweeping authorization not only to attack Afghanistan but to justify his detention policies in Guantanamo and even his illegal domestic spying.

Now, ten years later, the Pentagon is claiming that the President still has the right to go attack anyone affiliated with Al Qaeda, including foot soldiers of groups with only vague connections. Under this view, the U.S. could use drone strikes anywhere in the world against thousands and thousands of people.

See Charlie Savage’s story in The New York Times.

This would greatly broaden the policy of summary execution—yeah, let’s call it what it is—that the Obama Administration has been pursuing in Pakistan and Yemen.

Republican members of Congress want to grant the President the statutory authority to do this.

It’s as though they’ve learned nothing from the overreach that the first authorization of military force prompted ten years ago.

The last thing any President needs is more unilateral authority to go kill people.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Republican Blood Lust Again."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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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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