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Democrats fear war authorization update could give Trump green light for Iran attacks

The Pentagon’s ability to carry the fight to the Islamic State, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world was on the line Wednesday as a key Senate committee struggled to define — and possibly limit — President Trump’s legal authority to wage war.

While virtually all lawmakers agree that a new Authorization for Use of Military Force is necessary and that the 2001 and 2002 versions now in place are hopelessly outdated, there is far less of a consensus on what the legislation should look like and how much latitude to give the president.

Some Democrats raised the notion that the White House could twist the Senate’s broad bill into a green light for attacks against Iran, though Trump officials dismissed the idea as ludicrous.

“I do think the question here is that, yes, we will authorize the war against these entities, but we’re also going to authorize war against unforeseen actors,” said Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Mr. Menendez also explicitly asked whether the latest authorization could be expanded to include Iran, which is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism.

“I think that there is a real danger of the kind creative executive branch lawyering … that could use that definition for using force in situations like that,” said Rita Siemion, a Georgetown University law professor and counsel at the advocacy group Human Rights First who testified before the committee Wednesday. Read more

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Democrats fear war authorization update could give Trump green light for Iran attacks

The Pentagon’s ability to carry the fight to the Islamic State, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world was on the line Wednesday as a key Senate committee struggled to define — and possibly limit — President Trump’s legal authority to wage war.