Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Jennifer Taw

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2014 Tyler McBrien


Since World War II, the executive branch has dominated foreign policy and national security decisions, expanding war powers well beyond the president’s constitutional purview. Aided by a complicit Congress, the president has bypassed the legislator and unilaterally prosecuted some of the United States’ bloodiest conflicts. Continuing this tradition of executive overreach, Congress passed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) on September 14, 2001, which ostensibly empowered the president to pursue those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, namely al Qaeda and the nations supporting them. However, the broadly-worded force authorization and equally far-reaching legal interpretations by the executive branch turned the AUMF into a nearly limitless authorization. Since its passage, the AUMF has provided the legal backstop for the war in Afghanistan, drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and elsewhere, National Security Agency surveillance, and the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Enabled by the AUMF, the “war on terror” has eroded civil liberties, allowed extrajudicial killings, and transformed the conflict with al Qaeda into a war without end. In order to end the destructive legacies of the war on terror and begin to reverse the trend of executive overreach, Congress and the president should repeal the AUMF and update the force authorization regime.