Even after cutting off the head of al-Qaeda, the United States Department of Defense doesn’t believe an end to the war on terror is in sight. On Thursday, one Pentagon official predicted the mission against al-Qaeda could continue for another two decades.
Speaking to the Senate Armed Services early Thursday, Assistant
Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Michael Sheehan said
the Pentagon has no plans to pull out of its almost 12-year-old war
When asked for his take on how long the war on terror could go
on for, Sheehan told lawmakers, “At least 10 to 20
According to US President Barack Obama, the last combat troops
will move out of Afghanistan in 2014. If remarks from Sheehan and
others are at all accurate, though, in reality the war could last
through the 2030s.
Sheehan was being grilled by members of the Senate committee on
Thursday over not just the future of the war, but what rules are in
play to continue the operation. Congress granted then-President
George W. Bush the power to go after al-Qaeda in 2001 by signing
the Authorization to Use Military Force, a legislation that
essentially gave the go-ahead to use America’s might by any means
necessary to avenge the attacks of 9/11. Nearly 13 years later,
though, some members of the Senate saw that the overly broad powers
extended to the commander-in-chief through the AUMF are being used
to justify a widening war that now has soldiers targeting
insurgents in venue like Yemen and Somalia.
The scope of America’s counterterrorism program, Sheehan said,
stretches “from Boston to the FATA,” referring to the region
of Pakistan considered a hotbed of terrorism. Because of that
widening arena, some senators said it’s time to rewrite the
“It has spread throughout North Africa, throughout the
Maghreb,” Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) said during the
hearing. “The situation’s changed dramatically.
But while some lawmakers suggested it was time to revise the
AUMF, Pentagon officials said the 2012 National Defense
Authorization Act updated the law to grant the president power not
just to target overseas terrorists, but suspects believed to be
Robert Taylor, the acting general counsel of the Department of
Defense, said that the NDAA’s update to the Bush-era bill means
that even suspects born after the September 11 attacks could be
targeted as warriors in the war on terror.
“As long as they become an associated force under the legal
standard that was set out,” Taylor testified, according to
Wired’s Spencer Ackermnn.
Sen. Angus King, an Independent from Maine, suggested the
Pentagon was uninterested in changing the AUMF because they are
using it to justify a war that wouldn’t otherwise be legal.
“This is the most disturbing hearing I’ve been to in some
time,” King said. “You guys have rewritten the Constitution
“You guys have invented this term, associated forces, that’s
nowhere in this document,” King said. “It’s the
justification for everything, and it renders the war powers of
Congress null and void.”
“I assume [the AUMF] does suit you well because you’re
reading it to fit everything, and it doesn’t, the general rule of
war applies,” King said.
Even McCain, who has been by and large considered a hawkish
member of the Senate, spoke out against the Pentagon’s reluctance
to re-write a law that they are using to justify a war that could
take US troops to all corners of the globe for the unforeseeable
“For you to come here and say, ‘We don’t need to change it,’
I think, is disturbing,” McCain said.
Before stepping down as secretary of defense, former Pentagon
chief Leon Panetta said in late 2011, “We’re winning this very
tough conflict.” Osama bin Laden was executed five months
later, and the Central Intelligence Agency and DoD have
continuously utilized strikes to weaken al-Qaeda substantially
This article originally appeared on : RT