President-elect Donald Trump will begin his term with almost unlimited authority over the military's involvement in the Middle East due to Congress' failure to update the legal framework of the war on terror, Politico reports.
"You could easily see him wanting to ramp up the war on terror and take it to new parts of the globe," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the highest ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told Politico. "There are few limits on what he can do."
Schiff's fellow California Democrat, Rep. Barbara Lee, said for "an inexperienced president who tweets and gets angry . . . to have broad war-making power, it's a dangerous place to be," to Politico.
"Perhaps many of my Republican colleagues who were concerned about not tying the next president's hands — now that the next president is Donald Trump — they may come to regret that decision," Schiff added. "He'll have very wide leeway to target any terrorist organization with any connection to Al Qaeda, anywhere, and that's deeply troubling."
Trump hasn't specified what he would want in a formal authorization for war against the Islamic State. When asked by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly if he'd favor a new "declaration of war," Trump replied, "It wouldn't bother me at all doing that. We probably should have done that in the first place."
Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, Trump's pick for secretary of defense, argued in a blog post for the Hoover Institution last year that a new war resolution "supported by a majority of both parties in both houses of Congress, will send an essential message of American steadfastness to our people and to the global audience."
Mattis argued for a resolution without deadlines, geographic restrictions or prohibitions on the use of ground forces.
"A bipartisan [Authorization to Use Military Force] will demonstrate that America is in this fight to win: half-measures, self-imposed limitations on the Commander-in-Chief's authority or other indicators of tentativeness on our part will not encourage full commitment by allies," Mattis wrote. "Such timidity will only provide succor for our enemies and indicate that the leading democracy in the world cannot summon the will to defend its values."
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