60 Words That Lead to America’s Longest War

Consider this sentence-60 Words.

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

That sentence is what the United States used to justify its involvement in its longest ever war.
Where did that language come from, who wrote it and why did Congress go along?

RadioLab examines that in it’s award-winning examination “60 Words.” The Peabody Awards jurors wrote:

60 Words tells the fascinating story of how one 60-word sentence, pieced together in the fraught aftermath of 9/11, became the distinguishing legal marker between war and peace in the United States. Tracing the evolution of the “AUMF” – or “the authorization to use military force” – the program combines recreations, analysis and interviews to chronicle the phrase’s inception, the frenzied discussions over its viability, the pressured congressional voting that ushered it into existence, and its contemporary implications. Together it weaves a riveting patchwork of legal intrigue, political strategizing, moral handwringing and linguistic nuance that has since been used to authorize and justify the Iraq war, the “War on Terror” and other conflicts. A collaborative effort between Radiolab and BuzzFeed, the program is radio at its finest, using sound to artfully recreate the context by which legal and political circles came to authorize the language that would repeatedly permit America’s entry into military conflict.

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