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AUMF Reform After Afghanistan

Since January, talk about reforming the nearly 20-year-old 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, that provides the legal basis for most overseas U.S. counterterrorism activities, has once again been on the rise. While past efforts have generally failed to yield results, the combination of growing bi-partisan disenchantment with the status quo and a seemingly supportive Biden administration had led some to believe that this is the moment in which reform might finally happen. But now, the collapse in Afghanistan has some wondering whether the Biden administration will still have an appetite for the type of risk that AUMF reform is likely to entail, especially given that President Biden appears to have doubled down on global counterterrorism efforts in recent public remarks. 

Scott R. Anderson sat down with two leading experts in war powers: Professor Oona Hathaway of Yale Law School and Professor Matt Waxman of Columbia Law School. They discussed where the impetus for reform comes from, what AUMF reforms may be on the table and what recent events mean for the future of reform efforts.

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