President Donald Trump's top national security aides on Monday urged U.S. lawmakers reviewing congressional war authorization to avoid imposing geographic or time limits on the military's campaign against Islamic State and other militant groups. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Donald Trump's top national security aides on Monday urged U.S. lawmakers reviewing congressional war authorization to avoid imposing geographic or time limits on the military's campaign against Islamic State and other militant groups. "War is fundamentally unpredictable," Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told a Senate hearing about a potential new authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, Congress' most significant step in years towards taking back control of its constitutional right to authorize war. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson both said existing authorizations should not be repealed until new ones are in place, and stressed that they believe current AUMFs provide sufficient legal authority for ongoing military action. "The 2001 AUMF provides statutory authority for ongoing U.S. military operations against al-Qaeda; the Taliban; and associated forces, including against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS," Tillerson said in his opening statement. Republican and Democratic members of Congress have been arguing for years that Congress ceded too much authority over the deployment of U.S. forces to the White House after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They are also divided over how much control they should exert over the Pentagon. Repeated efforts to write and pass a new AUMF have failed. Under the Constitution, Congress, not the president, has the right to declare war. Concerns intensified this month after four U.S. soldiers were killed in Niger and previously over Trump's talk about dealing with North Korea and an April attack on an airfield in Syria. Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the foreign relations committee, told the hearing the ambush in Niger shows that U.S. forces "can find themselves in combat at any moment."