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Posted by Jefferson23 in Editorials & Other Articles
Tue Dec 06th 2011, 08:16 PM
Monday, Dec 5, 2011 2:27 PM

by Glenn Greenwald

The fact-checking site PolitiFact serves a valuable purpose when it actually performs its stated function: to “help you find the truth in American politics” by “fact-check<íng> statements” from political and media figures. But it undermines its own credibility when it purports to resolve subjective disputes of political opinion under the guise of objective expertise. That’s precisely what it did yesterday in this incredibly sloppy and often factually false analysis of Ron Paul’s condemnation of the new AUMF and detention authorities embedded in the pending Levin/McCain bill. What matters here more than PolitiFact‘s obvious, specific errors is the reason they were led to such error: namely, reliance on supposedly neutral, ideology-free “experts” who are anything but that.

PolitiFact rated as “mostly false” Paul’s argument that the new explicit standards in Levin/McCain defining the scope of the War on Terror are so vague and broad that they allow virtually anyone to be targeted by the President with force or detention; to support his claim, Paul cited the fact that, under this new language, the President is explicitly authorized to use force not only against members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban (as the original 2001 AUMF provided), but also against anyone who “substantially supports” those groups or “associated forces.” As Paul put it in his supposedly false statement: “It’s (now) anybody associated with (those) organizations, which means almost anybody can be loosely associated — so that makes all Americans vulnerable.”

Paul is far from the only person making this argument. The ACLU (see p. 10) — along with countless lawyers for detainees — have repeatedly argued that these expanded AUMF standards are so vague and broad as to allow the President virtually unfettered discretion to detain or otherwise use force against anyone he wants, on the ground that almost anyone can be said to provide “substantial support” to an “associated force.” Just last week, Mother Jones‘ Kevin Drum observed about the new AUMF in Levin/McCain: “From now on, military force will be perpetually pre-authorized against anyone who ‘supports’ any group ‘associated’ with something that looks like al-Qaeda. In other words, pretty much anyone at all.” And here is what Seton Hall Law Professor and long-time detainee lawyer Jonathan Hafetz told me today in explaining how this expanded interpretation of the AUMF is already giving rise to exactly the dangers about which Paul warned and could be even worse in the future:

As to “associated forces”, among the most outrageous uses thus far has been the Uighurs, whom the government detained for years based on their alleged membership in an (associated) Uighur independence group. Another concern is expanding AUMF-detention authority to new groups operating in other regions besides Afghanistan (e.g., Horn of Africa) on the theory that they are “associated” with AQ. thus helps entrench the notion of a global war on terror....

remainder in full: http://www.salon.com/2011/12/05/politifact... /
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