Will Obama veto the defense authorization bill?

posted at 3:50 pm on December 12, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Is this really a conundrum?  Barack Obama has threatened to veto a defense budget authorization bill over the inclusion of an amendment that gives the military the prerogative in handling terror-related detainees, even if the suspects are arrested/captured in the US.  Obama wants the conference committee to strip out the amendment before it reaches his desk:

House and Senate conferees are meeting Monday evening to finalize the Defense authorization bill, congressional sources told The Hill, potentially forcing President Obama to follow through on his threat to veto the legislation.

The White House says provisions in the bill on the military detention of terror suspects would hamper law enforcement and must be changed.

But should Obama veto the bill, as he has promised to do, it’s possible Democrats could join with Republicans to override the veto and deal the White House an embarrassing defeat.

An amendment that would have stripped the detainee provisions from the bill failed in the Senate 38-60, while the overall bill passed with a resounding 93-7 vote.

What objection does Obama have to this?

After years of struggling with issues of who should investigate, detain and try suspected terrorists — civilian authorities and courts or the military and its tribunal system — Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and Ranking Republicans John McCain of Arizona reached a long-sought compromise to codify the process.

However, critics complained the deal was weighted toward the military because it required any suspected al-Qaida terrorists, even those captured inside the U.S., to be held potentially indefinitely by the military. That concerned the White House and many lawmakers who think the responsibility belongs, in part, to law enforcement agencies and the federal courts and warned that Americans could possibly be detained indefinitely by the military.

Levin and McCain denied their bill would allow for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens. … Senators ultimately reached an agreement to amend the bill to make clear it’s not the bill’s intent to allow for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens and others legally residing in the country.

That’s the problem Obama faces in this threat.  The amendment itself resulted from a bipartisan compromise hammered out between Sens. John McCain and Carl Levin, which makes the prospect of eliminating it somewhat remote.  McCain isn’t seen as a hardliner on detention and interrogation issues, and Levin’s approval helped get 60 votes in support of the amendment for the procedural vote.

If Obama vetoes the bill, he will end up going on record as opposing a bill that got a 93-7 vote of approval from a chamber of Congress controlled by his own party.  It will be evidence that Obama is far out of the mainstream on detainee issues, a criticism that Obama has tried to downplay ever since his plans to close Gitmo imploded in an embarrassing fashion over the first year of his presidency.  It will likely result in an override — and if it doesn’t, Obama will end up carrying the blame for gridlock by shooting down a budget bill that had wide bipartisan support.  Republicans would love to use that as a response to Obama’s attacks on the House GOP as obstructionists.

In other words, the veto threat is likely just an empty gesture of impotence.  The conference committee should just ignore it, and likely will.

Update: Earlier, I wrote that a veto would delay funding, but that’s coming from the separate omnibus appropriations bill.  I’ve removed that reference.


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I’ll bet a beer that he won’t.. !!!

CrazyGene on December 12, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Not to worry, Obama is getting our drone back. Our enemies love us now, so there is no need for defense.

Oil Can on December 12, 2011 at 3:54 PM

I’ll bet a beer that he won’t.. !!!

CrazyGene on December 12, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Romney says you can keep your beer, but he’ll bet you $10,000.

BacaDog on December 12, 2011 at 3:55 PM

All bho has is a veto threat and his handy dandy eo pen! I don’t think either will work for him this time on this issue?
L

letget on December 12, 2011 at 4:01 PM

As always, he’ll do what wastes the most money and

makes us less safe.

amadan on December 12, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Obama would never take the chance of vetoing something that has the word “Defense” in the title which would make him “look bad” to the “voting public”.

The Nerve on December 12, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Stick a provision in to go easy on beastiality and he’ll prolly come around.

DanMan on December 12, 2011 at 4:02 PM

I can’t see Obama using a veto unless the Dem leadership assures him ahead of time that they won’t allow an override to succeed.

DRayRaven on December 12, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Depends!
Someone will have to give to his campaign.
Then, the pen will stay in his pocket.

KOOLAID2 on December 12, 2011 at 4:05 PM

If it isn’t perfectly clear that American citizens and legal residents CANNOT be held indefinitely, then it should be vetoed. Do NOT trade your freedom for flimsy promises of protection.

cartooner on December 12, 2011 at 4:06 PM

a chamber of Congress controlled by his own party

Nice try, Ed. Everyone knows the Republicans control Congress.

/

Christien on December 12, 2011 at 4:06 PM

As always, he’ll do what wastes the most money and
makes us less safe.
amadan on December 12, 2011 at 4:01 PM

There’s really not much else to say, after that.

listens2glenn on December 12, 2011 at 4:08 PM

Wait, what about habeas corpus? What about the Bill of Rights? Why are we bending over backwards to permit a law that is antithetical to our nation’s founding? What happened to give me liberty of give me death?

neightkelly on December 12, 2011 at 4:08 PM

The ‘veto’ is just smoke and mirrors to appease the masses until it is time to strike. Personally, I have no hope of any of our legislators honoring their oaths (it is to their advantage to disregard the Oath of Office).

Last week, I happened to click through an episode of ‘Sons of Guns’ where they were arming a police patrol boat in Louisiana. They added a M240 machine gun mounted next to a MK19 belt-fed 40mm grenade launcher and a tear-gas launcher on the side.

The pretext was that the police needed this firepower to deal with drug smugglers. (Maybe I’m not as alert as I think I am, but I have not heard of any instance where our police forces were so vastly out-gunned that they required military grade, crew-served weapons just to stay in the game.) Besides, I would think that stopping water-borne smugglers/pirates would be in the purvue of the Coast Guard.

Couple this episode with the recent articles about police forces arming themselves with military armaments and you have a recipe for disasterous martial law. I would like to have access to a LEO who could/would divulge what ‘secret’ orders/documents they are seeing that warrants this dangerous upgrade.

My suspicion is that schedules are escalating and may happen before the new year. (Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I am old enough to understand the difference between paranoia and history.)

I’m revising my plans and checking my bug-out bags. The Emperor and the Elites will protect their interests at any cost. If you have any doubt about the ‘Honor’ of our leaders, ask yourself one simple question: “Why are there no Impeachment proceedings?” (The Holder / Corzine shows are just that, diversionary entertainment. There are scores of impeachable crimes being committted by the Administration and members of Congress each day. The Supreme court actions are just delaying tactics.) Each day becomes more ominous than its predecessor.

If you have not developed a plan, the clock looks like it IS ‘ticking’. Develop a plan for what you will do, where you will go, who you will trust, what you will take with you, how you will get there, and most importantly…what is the trigger event in your own mind that will set you into action/motion, what is the breaking point? (Remember boiling frogs.) I do not suggest posting your plans in response to this…you need to keep your survival plans to yourself or at least an unmonitored forum. Be wary of who you trust, and even whose advice you listen to. Question everyone and everything and be observant.

If you want a free eBook to get you started on your planning process, I have it and other free stuff at http://www.rongoulden.com/Literary.htm

It’s up to you if you use the link… I get nothing from it (it’s free). I don’t even care if you use the link or the information. Try to survive.

One little sidebar…while the Feds and LEOs are arming themsleves and they have their toys and snipers, most hunters can probably shoot close to sniper effectiveness, so you have a (relative) handful of highly trained marksmen vs. tens (hundreds) of thousands of highly skilled hunters. Crew-served weapons are not much use if no one is alive to use them.

Sidebar 2: In retrospect, the wars in the middle east are obviously merely training exercisesto learn how to fight an urban war.

xmanvietnam on December 12, 2011 at 4:08 PM

This IS an ill-conceived bill—IF you read ALL of it! However, the only reason Obama wants to veto it, is because it takes “control” out of HIS hands! WHY hasn’t any news media asked psychiatrists to “analyze Obama”? I would almost put my life on the fact that the man has definite “disorders”, not to mention his “farthest north Slavic nation mentality”.

DixT on December 12, 2011 at 4:12 PM

The White House says provisions in the bill on the military detention of terror suspects would hamper law enforcement and must be changed.

Translation from Husseenese to English :
Law enforcement is unionized.
Military is not.
I made my choice

burrata on December 12, 2011 at 4:13 PM

If it isn’t perfectly clear that American citizens and legal residents CANNOT be held indefinitely, then it should be vetoed. Do NOT trade your freedom for flimsy promises of protection.

cartooner on December 12, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Amen and Amen!

Talon on December 12, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Give me liberty or give me death is fine if you are a US Citizen or a legal resident.

If you’re a terrorist suspect from another country, you do not enjoy all the protections of a US citizen. Hell even as a green card holder you do not.

CorporatePiggy on December 12, 2011 at 4:15 PM

neightkelly on December 12, 2011 at 4:08 PM

Go ask King Washington the First how he dealt with unlawful enemy combatants and enemy spies.

Christien on December 12, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Why are we bending over backwards to permit a law that is antithetical to our nation’s founding? What happened to give me liberty of give me death?neightkelly on December 12, 2011 at 4:08 PM

Commerce clause.

a capella on December 12, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Yeah, there are a great many things in this bill that are very, VERY disturbing. I really hope he vetoes it.

Dopavash on December 12, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Congress over-riding his veto would be an early Christmas present.

gh on December 12, 2011 at 4:18 PM

possibly be detained indefinitely by the military.

I’m pretty sure nobody should be detained indefinitely without due process by any branch of the government. Talk about slippery slope…

Grindstone on December 12, 2011 at 4:23 PM

I love to bash Obambi as much as the other guy but even a broken clock can be right twice a day. As soon as the bulldog-faced hag running DHS redefines what “terrorist” is, the provision will be used to detain “domestic terrorists” – such as HotAir posters, for example.

Archivarix on December 12, 2011 at 4:24 PM

I don’t care what Obama’s reasoning is for veto, I just hope he actually does it.

Dante on December 12, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Pardon me, but I’m hoping he vetoes it. It’s a horrible precedent.

SouthernGent on December 12, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Quotes from Detroit News article:

Levin and McCain denied their bill would allow for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens.

Senators ultimately reached an agreement to amend the bill to make clear it’s not the bill’s intent to allow for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens and others legally residing in the country.

From The Hill article:

Supporters of the detention provisions point to a waiver included in the Senate bill that would allow the administration to move suspects from military to civilian custody, but the White House says it’s too inflexible.

gh on December 12, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Under the Laws of War, which went into effect with the 2001 AUMF passed by congress any citizen can be detained by Military that is proved to be connected specifically with Al-Qaeda and/or Taliban only.

Andrew McCarthy wrote several excellent pieces on this, exposing Rand Paul in the process.

From the bill in question:

S.1867 – SEC. 1032. REQUIREMENT FOR MILITARY CUSTODY

(b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-

(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.

jp on December 12, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Unless a law explicitly states that an action cannot be taken, that action will be taken.

Nathan_OH on December 12, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Even a terrorism investigation does not become occasion for leaping to the “enemy combatant” conclusion unless the agents uncover proof of an operational connection to al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Under acts of Congress enacted since 9/11, no one — no American citizen and no alien — qualifies for enemy-combatant status absent proof that they either participated in the 9/11 attacks or have abetted those named organizations in their war against the United States. That is why, in the decade since 9/11, most terrorism cases are still handled by civilian courts. That is why, during that decade, fewer than a half-dozen American citizens have been detained as enemy combatants. No one is held without trial over a clothing stain.

But let’s indulge the Paul paranoia and imagine that an agent gets the dirty-shirt call, and that none of the supervisors in the FBI’s extensive national-security chain-of-command pipes up to say, “Hey, it’s crazy to arrest someone — for terrorism or anything else — over something so flimsy.” Let’s further assume that the Justice Department’s many layers of supervision go merrily along with this lunatic rush to judgment. Our American citizen detainee would still have a right — under congressional statutes complemented by Supreme Court decisions and a growing body of combatant law in the D.C. Circuit — to file a habeas corpus petition challenging his detention in federal district court. And if a wayward judge there somehow denied the petition, the detainee would get to appeal to the D.C. Circuit and, if necessary, to the Supreme Court.

That is, even without a jury trial, the wrongly detained citizen would receive elaborate due process. Indeed, he’d probably win his release more quickly than if he’d been charged with a crime. Many terrorism defendants wait years before their civilian trials start, and most trials take months to complete.

jp on December 12, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Not to worry, Obama is getting our drone back. Our enemies love us now, so there is no need for defense.

Oil Can on December 12, 2011 at 3:54 PM

hope the Iranians ship it in time for X-mas :-)…that will brighten O’s holiday season :-)

jimver on December 12, 2011 at 5:09 PM

You know, it occurs to me that all these things we’re worried about regarding Obama’s decisions and policies will pale compared to the damage he will do if reelected. An Obama unconcerned with public opinion and reelection will run amuck over our country and constitution.

Aplombed on December 12, 2011 at 5:29 PM

It will be evidence that Obama is far out of the mainstream

In other news, water is wet. Fire is hot.

GarandFan on December 12, 2011 at 5:33 PM

He would rather turn over terrorist to AG Holder than to the Dept of Defense, says alot about him doesn’t it.

D-fusit on December 12, 2011 at 5:40 PM

Isn’t this the bill that authorizes the detention of American citizens without due process over “suspected” ties to terrorism? For once, I’m on Obama’s side. Shoot it down.

EternalMalachi on December 12, 2011 at 5:45 PM

EternalMalachi on December 12, 2011 at 5:45 PM

No, Obama and Rand Paul lied about that and confused the issue.

jp on December 12, 2011 at 5:56 PM

I enjoy dropping by every once in awhile just to make certain that all the HotAir.com ultranationalists still support and trust their government.

My apologies to the brave minority.

bmowell on December 12, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Yeah, there are a great many things in this bill that are very, VERY disturbing. I really hope he vetoes it.

Dopavash on December 12, 2011 at 4:16 PM

I’ve read in several places that Obama isn’t threatening to veto this horrible bill because he’s concerned about infringing on our Constitutional rights. He just hates the fact that any American citizen “detained” under the bill would also be covered under the Geneva Convention rules, which prevent torture of POWs.

I hope Obama vetoes it. This bill was drawn up in secret with no debate. Every Congressman who voted for this outrage should hang their head in shame. And, they should be voted out of office at the first opportunity.

TheClearRiver on December 12, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Although the bill says “the requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States,” Amash said the language is “carefully crafted to mislead the public.

“Note that it does not preclude U.S. citizens from being detained indefinitely, without charge or trial, it simply makes such detention discretionary,” he wrote.

Thoughts?

bmowell on December 12, 2011 at 6:23 PM

I hope Obama vetoes it. This bill was drawn up in secret with no debate. Every Congressman who voted for this outrage should hang their head in shame. And, they should be voted out of office at the first opportunity.

TheClearRiver on December 12, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Where is the ‘Like’ button when you need it?

bmowell on December 12, 2011 at 6:26 PM

Bob Barr in the Daily Caller stated today about the NDAA:

“Its congressional supporters justify this radical and dramatic departure from more than two centuries of American jurisprudence by citing the 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which Congress passed in the days following the attacks of 9/11 and the Bush administration used as a justification to expand its surveillance of U.S. citizens.”

bmowell on December 12, 2011 at 6:32 PM

You should look at this more before so carelessly dismissing it.

Regardless, make no mistake about the scope of the provision: “[T]he statement of authority to detain does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in defense of the provision.

And Graham is a supporter of this monstrosity.

http://reason.com/archives/2011/12/05/the-senates-unconstitutional-support-for

bmowell on December 12, 2011 at 6:58 PM

I don’t think this bill should pass, what happens when someone uses this power to imprison gun owners, tea partners or any other group they deem a enemy of the state. If he doesn’t veto it we need to write our congessmen.

angrymike on December 12, 2011 at 6:59 PM

“Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1031 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.”

Even if the intent is that it not apply to US citizens on US territory, the language that it “is not a requirement that” is not equivalent to “it is probibited that”.

If this goes into law, I am willing to bet that it is applied to a US citizen on US soil within a decade, because, ya know, the U.S. Government never expands its authority on anything after it’s passed. Patriot Act, anyone?

bmowell on December 12, 2011 at 7:17 PM

I don’t think this bill should pass, what happens when someone uses this power to imprison gun owners, tea partners or any other group they deem a enemy of the state. If he doesn’t veto it we need to write our congessmen.

angrymike on December 12, 2011 at 6:59 PM

Good Point. Watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD1T61oTrR8&fb_source=message

bmowell on December 12, 2011 at 7:18 PM

Why NOT pass this?

Full Text of the Udall Detainee Amendment

Senate Amendment #1107. Mr. UDALL of Colorado submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill S. 1867, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2012 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes; as follows:

Strike subtitle D of title X and insert the following:

Subtitle D–Detainee Matters

SEC. 1031. REVIEW OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.

(a) In General.–Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall, in consultation with appropriate officials in the Executive Office of the President, the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Attorney General, submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report setting forth the following:

(1) A statement of the position of the Executive Branch on the appropriate role for the Armed Forces of the United States in the detention and prosecution of covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)).
(2) A statement and assessment of the legal authority asserted by the Executive Branch for such detention and prosecution.
(3) A statement of any existing deficiencies or anticipated deficiencies in the legal authority for such detention and prosecution.
(b) Covered Persons.–A covered person under this section is any person, other than a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, whose detention or prosecution by the Armed Forces of the United States is consistent with the laws of war and based on authority provided by any of the following:
(1) The Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40).
(2) The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution 2002 (Public Law 107-243).
(3) Any other statutory or constitutional authority for use of military force.
(c) Congressional Action.–Each of the appropriate committees of Congress may, not later than 45 days after receipt of the report required by subsection (a), hold a hearing on the report, and shall, within 45 days of such hearings, report to Congress legislation, if such committee determines legislation is appropriate and advisable, modifying or expanding the authority of the Executive Branch to carry out detention and prosecution of covered persons.
(d) Appropriate Committees of Congress Defined.–In this section, the term “appropriate committees of Congress” means–
(1) the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate; and
(2) the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives.

bmowell on December 12, 2011 at 7:23 PM

xmanvietnam on December 12, 2011 at 4:08 PM

I’m not.quite sure whose honor you’re attempting to dump on in your coarse attempt to make a buck -police or military- but we don’t appreciate it.

M240H on December 12, 2011 at 8:09 PM

Gee, these stories about detention provisions in the legislation sure sound scary. Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t we read the damn bill before we act like panicky preteens?

C’mon, people. Think before you type.

OhioCoastie on December 12, 2011 at 8:13 PM

carl levin (D – MI) made it clear that obama asked for the language exempting US citizens from indefinite detention be removed from the bill. why is nobody talking about this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLiKvSz_wX8

dbilly76 on December 12, 2011 at 8:53 PM

carl levin (D – MI) made it clear that obama asked for the language exempting US citizens from indefinite detention be removed from the bill. why is nobody talking about this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLiKvSz_wX8

dbilly76 on December 12, 2011 at 8:53 PM

As you’ve just demonstrated, it’s far easier to just hit the “FWD” button and pass along the scary e-mail stories than it is to find out what the bill actually says.

OhioCoastie on December 12, 2011 at 8:57 PM

that picture of the slimey vermin Reid reminded me an
one of those e-mails I saw recently. Haven’t bothered to
fact check it but since it’s this regime I’m pretty sure it’s true. Anything this brazen and corrupt has to be true since you can’t make up this nonsense.

•The Tonopah Solar company in Harry Reid’s Nevada is getting a $737 million loan from Obama’s DOE.
o The project will produce a 110 megawatt power system and employ 45 permanent workers.
That’s costing us just $16 million per job.
•One of the investment partners in this endeavor is Pacific Corporate Group (PCG).
oThe PCG executive director is Ron Pelosi who is the brother to Nancy ‘s husband.

acyl72 on December 13, 2011 at 8:51 AM

“Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1031 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.”

Even if the intent is that it not apply to US citizens on US territory, the language that it “is not a requirement that” is not equivalent to “it is probibited that”.

If this goes into law, I am willing to bet that it is applied to a US citizen on US soil within a decade, because, ya know, the U.S. Government never expands its authority on anything after it’s passed. Patriot Act, anyone?

bmowell on December 12, 2011 at 7:17 PM

All American citizens better hope Obama vetoes this. That said, even if he signs it, it should be held unConstitutional.

Conservative4Ever on December 13, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Obama will not veto the Indefinite Detention of Americans Act that deletes the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Amendments with just a few sentences tucked away in Section 1031. The United States will be a police state in mid-February.

Where do Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich stand on the indefinite detention bill? Have either of them spoken out against NDAA?

R3volution on December 15, 2011 at 3:35 PM