Defending Rights & Dissent joined 65 civil society groups in signing onto a letter initiated by the Yemen Peace Project in support of H.Con.Res.81. H.Con.Res.81 is a bipartisan bill that asserts Congress’s power under the War Powers Act to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war. While we take no position on what US foreign policy should be, we support congressional efforts to reclaim their constitutional war powers that have for far too long been usurped by the executive branch.
The Constitution of the United States is very clear. Only Congress has the power to declare war and peace. In response to Richard Nixon’s lawless bombardment of Cambodia, Congress passed the War Powers Act, which further enshrined that Congress is the ultimate decision maker when it comes to military force.
There are currently two authorization for use of military forces (AUMFs) that could arguably still be in effect. One is the AUMF against the terrorists who committed the 9/11 attacks and those who harbored them. The other is the AUMF against Iraq that gave George W. Bush the authority to invade the country.
The first AUMF has repeatedly been used to justify military actions across the globe that have no relation to the 9/11 attacks. Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump have abused this AUMF to wage war without congressional authorization or debate.
While the abuses of the AUMF are many, the US is currently embroiled in an unconstitutional war in Yemen. For over two years now, Saudi Arabia has led a ruthless and cruel war against Yemen. There is ample evidence that Saudi Arabia has committed war crimes and violated international humanitarian law. Many are horrified that nearly seven million people stand on the brink of starvation as the result of a Saudi blockade of the country’s main port or that the Saudi war has now caused one of the worst cholera outbreaks in the history of the world. The US, far from neutral, is actively participating in this war. Since March 2015, the US has provided the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen with political and military support, including targeting intelligence, mid-air refueling, and other logistical support.
As a domestic civil liberties organization, we take no position on what the foreign policy of the US should be. However, the American people have every right to debate whether they wish for their government to in their name take part in the Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen. Congress has never debated let alone authorized the escalating US involvement in Yemen.