Controversial statement by Hillary Clinton at the Democratic debate

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens during the Community Forum on Substance Abuse at The Boys and Girls Club of America campaign event in Laconia

With Paris attacks in mind, CBS’ s moderator John Dickerson asked former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Democratic debate on Saturday night if she’d declare war against ISIS. Her response was interesting and gave room to many interpretations, says National Public Radio‘s website.

The possibility of another war isn’t ignored

Hillary Clinton’s answer to Dickerson’s question produced astonishment, with the Democratic candidate saying that the U.S. is already authorized to fight ISIS. “We have an authorization to use military force against terrorists. We passed it after 9/11. … It certainly does cover it. I would like to see it updated”, stated Hillary Clinton, according to the same source.

But is she right? If we take her words literary, she’s not. An authorization to use military force (AUMF) passed days after the Sept. 11 attacks, but AUMF refers to people or groups, while ISIS is something more than that. Also, Congress can declare war, however this hasn’t happen since the 1940’s.

Is ISIS the actual target?

Yet, Hillary Clinton’s answer creates new questions: Whom is the U.S authorized to fight against? The AUMF has been interpreted by both the Bush and Obama administrations as giving broad authority, with U.S taking military actions in 10 countries, excluding Syria, says National Public Radio. “What’s unusual about the AUMF of 2001 is that it’s ambiguous about who the enemy is” said Benjamin Wittes, senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and an expert on ISIS and AUMFs, quoted by the same source.

AUMF doesn’t mention any group by name, not ISIS, and not even Al Qaeda, giving room to many interpretations. So, what did Hillary Clinton mean when she said that U.S has already the “authorization to use military force against terrorists”? Probably, Clinton miss-spoke, because the AUMF doesn’t authorize the US to fight “terrorists”, but maybe we’ll see clarifications in the next few days.