Current war authority sufficient, top US officials say

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on "The Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Administration Perspective" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON - Top U.S. national security officials have warned congressional Republicans and Democrats demanding a new war authorization that existing laws governing combat operations against terrorist groups are legally sufficient. And they say that repealing them prematurely could signal the United States is backing away from the fight.

During testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis urged Congress to tread carefully.

If lawmakers are compelled to replace the post-Sept. 11, 2001, laws, the two secretaries cautioned them against imposing restrictions and conditions on American military forces that allow their enemies "to seize the initiative."

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