We have now learned that the President has justified his abuse of the NSA to spy on Americans with the 9-11 use of force resolution. Indeed, this resolution is the legal basis for the vast majority of the civil liberties violations in this nation (for example, it is also the basis for the enemy combatant doctrine). Meanwhile, Dick Cheney attended the swearing in of the first Afghan parliament in thirty years yesterday, and the Patriot Act's most controversial provisions are set to expire on December 31, 2005, which also indicates the time frame the Congress was thinking of when it initially authorized the War on Terorism approach. Like the 9-11 use of force resolution, these conroversial provisions have been abused by the administration.
We didn't need a war resolution to fight terrorism. We needed a war resolution to justify the invasion of Afghanistan for the purpose of getting terrorists. The need for that resolution is over. Afghanistan is now our loyal ally and unlike Iraq, the nation has an elected government whose legitimacy is widely acknowledged and a military capable of maintaining law and order without being propped up by large numbers of U.S. force.
Impeachment is not a realistic option, even if it is justified, because there are at least 34 Republican Senators in Congress willing to jump of a cliff like lemmings to walk in lockstep with President Bush.
But, why not repeal the 9-11 use of force authorization? This wouldn't stop us from pursuing terrorists, but would make clear that a "war" is not the proper model for doing so and that terrorists must be pursued consistent with the law. The war phase of the war on terror is over. Al-Queda has been routed from Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden is hiding under some distant rock. We know who was directly involved in 9-11 itself for the most part, and those involved are virtually all captured or dead. Many senior Al-Queda officials who were in place on 9-11, even if they had no involvement in the attack are also dead or captured or have been replaced in the organization's hierarchy. There is no longer a place for large military units in fighting Al-Queda. The anti-terrorism effort now needs to return to traditional investigation and law enforcement approaches. If we don't, we are learning, we will lose the cooperation of the European allies we need to win. Wars are won more based on who your allies are than based on what forces you bring to the field yourself.
So, we should end the war, continue the fight, and return the rule of law to our nation. A commitment to rule of law and democratic principals, in the long term, does more to prevent terrorism than anything else.