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December 6, 2011 9:13 AM   Subscribe

For the past 48 years the U.S. Congress has passed a version of The National Defense Authorization Act. The purpose of the act is to set the budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense. This year's act has some controversial provisions. President Obama has threatened a veto.

Carl Levin, one of the architects of the bill, claims that the bill will only "codify existing authority that was adopted by both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration and that has been upheld in the federal courts," and that "For the first time, this bill provides that in determining a detainee’s status, that that detainee will have access to a lawyer and to a military judge. That is not the case now. Nor would the bill preclude the trial of terrorists in the civilian courts, as some have erroneously asserted. As a matter of fact Mr. President, it’s the contrary. The bill expressly authorizes the transfer of any military detainee for trial in the civilian courts at any time."

Opponents of the bill are claiming that the bill "would authorize the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect — anywhere in the world — without charge or trial. The measure would effectively extend the definition of what is considered the military’s 'battlefield' to anywhere in the world, even within the United States." The ACLU has interpreted the bill to mean that: "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." Open Congress blog wonders "with the social uprisings taking place around the world, including the Occupy movement, the relevant and important question here is if this could be used to attempt to justify military suppression of constitutionaly-protected political activity. Could the military use this to power to essentially disappear U.S. citizens with inconvenient views? As always, it’s not the intention of the legislators that ultimately matters, it’s the legislative text and it’s interpretable potential for as long as it may stand as law."

Last Tuesday the Senate rejected the Udall Amendment, which would have set in place a framework for Congressional review of the detention framework, and passed the bill as is. The bill is now under revision by the House of Representatives.

Breakdown of the vote on the Udall Amendment.

Text of Udall Amendment.

(Warning: pdf)Text of controversial sections are in Title X, subtitle D, sec. 1031 and sec. 1032(starts on page 432 of the pdf)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar (127 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wouldn't it be simpler to just pass a bill which says: "ANYTHING GOES! GO WILD!"
posted by goethean at 9:20 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


So, given that the vote in the Senate was 93-7, and that the House of Representatives seems likely to pass the thing with a similarly overwhelming majority, wouldn't it be trivial for Congress to override Obama's veto? I'm not too clear on how pocket vetoes work, so is that also a possibility here?
posted by invitapriore at 9:21 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


How could this possibly survive a legal challenge? Don't the aforementioned provisions effectively contravene basic constitutional protections?
posted by clockzero at 9:21 AM on December 6, 2011


Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

posted by swift at 9:21 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


93-7 for "disappearing" U.S. citizens.

You earned it.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 9:23 AM on December 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


I wish I could believe that the Supreme Court would tear this thing to shreds.
posted by Iridic at 9:24 AM on December 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Treason against the United States ...

That's why we're not trying to convict anybody of treason, silly. We're just holding them on suspicion of terrorism.
posted by gauche at 9:29 AM on December 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


Hey, don't sweat it. If it becomes law, the Supreme Court will rule it unconstitutional, right? right?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:31 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


While I really don't think this bill has a future (*veto) it does essentially establish the Military as defacto law of the land making it the basis for what is a soft Military Coup?
posted by djseafood at 9:32 AM on December 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


What color do I change my Twitter avatar to for this?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:35 AM on December 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


I wish I could believe that the Supreme Court would tear this thing to shreds.

And how's the Constitution holding up?

To shreds, you say?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:37 AM on December 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


what the heck kind of word/ entity is "the warfighter" that the Obama admin policy writes about?
posted by markvalli at 9:39 AM on December 6, 2011


I give up on this stupid country.
posted by Legomancer at 9:39 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, don't sweat it. If it becomes law, the Supreme Court will rule it unconstitutional, right?

If they did, they of course might well be conspiring with the enemy.
posted by XMLicious at 9:41 AM on December 6, 2011


what the heck kind of word/ entity is "the warfighter" that the Obama admin policy writes about?

I've been wondering about this, too. My deduced theory is that it's used to erase the line between actual military and mercenaries.
posted by clockzero at 9:41 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


The hilarious thing (and by hilarious I mean I want to move to the Moon) is that Obama previously threatened a veto if the law did not allow detention of US citizens. Relevant footage starts a little over 4:30 in.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:43 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really don't think this bill has a future (*veto)

The veto threat arises not from the bill's shaky Constitutional ground, but from the fact that it doesn't grant the Commander-in-Chief enough power:
In their current form, some of these provisions disrupt the Executive branch's ability to enforce the law and impose unwise and unwarranted restrictions on the U.S. Government's ability to aggressively combat international terrorism; other provisions inject legal uncertainty and ambiguity that may only complicate the military's operations and detention practices.
This President, like his predecessors, is not very interested in checks or balances when it comes to his ability to use force.
posted by swift at 9:44 AM on December 6, 2011


We've had it out over "Warfighter" before.
posted by thedaniel at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


The fact that this is even a consideration, let alone passed the Senate vote, is incredibly disturbing. I'm not familiar enough with the American political system to form a rational judgement about this, and it's possible it's less dangerous a measure than it sounds, but to me it appears to be terrifying.
posted by aclevername at 9:49 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


If it becomes law, the Supreme Court will rule it unconstitutional, right? right?



It'll depend on when the Court will rule on this if it passes. If Obama isn't re-elected and someone else who was in favor of this provision gets into office, the Supreme Court will not rule on this at all because it'll be too costly to their own powers. Keep in mind that all the Supreme Court is able to do is say, "This is unconstitutional." They depend upon the Executive branch to actually enforce the ruling. So if they do say, it's unconstitutional, the next president can actually just ignore the court's ruling. This would just seriously undermine the Supreme Court's power, but who cares? Unitary executive ftw.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:50 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I give up on this stupid country.
posted by Legomancer at 12:39 PM on December 6 [+] [!]


All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

-Edmund Burke
posted by benito.strauss at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The veto threat arises not from the bill's shaky Constitutional ground, but from the fact that it doesn't grant the Commander-in-Chief enough power

The administration's objection doesn't have to do with the scope of power the bill grants the Executive (arguably the Executive already has the power as Carl Levin suggests). The administration is threatening to veto because the bill forces the administration to detain and try all arrested non-citizen terrorists via the military rather than through civilian police and courts.

The reporting on this bill and the fight over it has been bizarrely slipshod.
posted by yoink at 9:54 AM on December 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


The hilarious thing (and by hilarious I mean I want to move to the Moon) is that Obama previously threatened a veto if the law did not allow detention of US citizens. Relevant footage starts a little over 4:30 in.

Your link doesn't work, but I'm pretty sure that I know what you wanted to link to: Carl Levin in the senate saying that the administration had objected to the language which exempted US citizens from the bill's provisions, right? Yeah, that moment isn't about what you think it's about. A: that language didn't exempt US citizens from anything--it simply exempted the administration from having to detain/try US citizens in military jails/courts on terrorism cases.

I assume the administration wanted that language pulled from the act in order to clarify the issue and reduce support for the broader provision in Congress (because it's still threatening a veto over the provision as a whole--the exemption, such as it was, was an exemption to a provision that the White House was threatening a veto over). But it certainly wasn't the case that the administration was trying to gain further powers.
posted by yoink at 10:00 AM on December 6, 2011


If the executive branch decides to "adopt" any kind of authority it likes, and the courts back it, the constitution is literally just a piece of paper at that point. Checks and balances really mean that any time two branches of government conspire against the constitution, the constitution loses. So whether or not this law passes is kind of an afterthought. Two branches already decided they could do this, it's now just up to congress to give their irrelevant blessing.
posted by mullingitover at 10:00 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is what happens when we have bipartisan cooperation.
posted by el io at 10:05 AM on December 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


Obama could resolve this problem by declaring that if given the ability to arbitrarily hold people he will exercise it.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:07 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


what the heck kind of word/ entity is "the warfighter" that the Obama admin policy writes about?

It's a shitty neologism that sounds awesome in policy papers, military contractor brochures, and FPS video games.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:10 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


a robot made out of meat: "Obama could resolve this problem by declaring that if given the ability to arbitrarily hold people he will exercise it."

Ah, this would do wonders for dealing with the Senate. "CNN is reporting that half of the republican house and senate caucuses have failed to appear today. The president's budget, which includes free universal health care and severe cuts to military spending, is projected to pass."
posted by mullingitover at 10:11 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


OK, the ACLU is against or for?

I'm confused. Carl Levin says it will make things better for suspects. But I don't see that in the bill and the ACLU is against it.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:22 AM on December 6, 2011


what the heck kind of word/ entity is "the warfighter" that the Obama admin policy writes about?

Avoids use of the dreaded "servicemember" and the even worse, "soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen and airwomen."
posted by Ironmouth at 10:24 AM on December 6, 2011


And coastguardsmen and coastguardswomen.
posted by Etrigan at 10:28 AM on December 6, 2011


If the executive branch decides to "adopt" any kind of authority it likes, and the courts back it, the constitution is literally just a piece of paper at that point.

This is true in any parliamentary systems. It doesn't matter what the rules are, if all the players agree to break the rules, the rules are broken without consequence. Whenever you hear someone in a legislature ask to "suspend the rules and do X," this is what's happening -- they need to the suspend the rule that prevents them from doing X before they can actually do it.

In general, this requires a supermajority, but, as I said, if everyone agrees, then the rules don't matter.

This is an unfixable problem. Even if you had a mystic order of ninja templars who would rise up and slaughter anybody attempting to overrule the constitution, if they agree with the overruling, then it happens anyway. There is, quite literally, no system of government short of absolute democracy where you can absolutely prevent those with power from breaking the rules if enough of them agree to do so and that might not even work in an absolute democracy, because, well, if you have enough votes to change the constitution, it doesn't matter what it says, right?
posted by eriko at 10:32 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here, by the way, is the key passage in the White House statement on the bill in the second link of the FPP:
The Administration strongly objects to the military custody provision of section 1032, which would appear to mandate military custody for a certain class of terrorism suspects. This unnecessary, untested, and legally controversial restriction of the President's authority to defend the Nation from terrorist threats would tie the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement professionals. Moreover, applying this military custody requirement to individuals inside the United States, as some Members of Congress have suggested is their intention, would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.
posted by yoink at 10:32 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like that the one thing the patricians can agree on is putting the screws to the plebeians. That's a really good dynamic, and has certainly never come back to bite back any major establishments in the past, by, say, having people call on a central army commander to stand against the patricians with increasing degrees of force, because that would be a ridiculous development.
posted by furiousthought at 10:34 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Guys, just imagine how much worse it would be if it were a Republican in the White House. Right? Guys?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:36 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Good Lord. Apparently I'm not quite cynical and paranoid enough.

This didn't get all that much coverage in the mainstream media, and I bet few if any of the legislators that voted for it suffer any consequences.

Depressing.

-----

From the mouth of South Carolina's own, Lindsay Graham:

"I'm just saying to any American citizen, if you want to help al-Qaida, you do so at your own peril. You can get killed in the process. You can get detained indefinitely. And when you're being questioned and you say to the interrogator, I want my lawyer, the interrogator will say, you don't have a right to a lawyer because you're a military threat."

-----

This is what happens when we have bipartisan cooperation.

Word. Reminds me of some wag's comment at the election of Obama, "Government wins! Winning streak continues."
posted by BigSky at 10:36 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is something no one is even talking about. According to McCain the bill also includes parts which:

"enhances the capability of our military, and that of our allies to conduct counterinsurgency operations, including the authority to provide support to those aiding U.S. special operations in combating terrorism in Yemen and East Africa"

I guess conducting shadow wars is not up for debate. At least in the public forum. Pertinent parts are in Title XII, subtitle A, sec. 1204(pg. 547) and sec. 1208(pg. 559).
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:49 AM on December 6, 2011


The administration is threatening to veto because the bill forces the administration to detain and try all arrested non-citizen terrorists via the military rather than through civilian police and courts.

Can anyone link to an intelligent outlining of the military's perspective on this? This legislation is understandably appealing to crypto-fascists like Graham, but I'd be curious to know if this is a responsibility the military courts want and can afford to take on.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:54 AM on December 6, 2011


While "warfighter" may be superior to "servicemember" and all the rest, it's far, far too accurate, and its connotations much too negative.

In the spirit of the "War Department's" re-christening as the "Defense Department," I strongly urge the Administration to rebrand the nation's warfighters. Herewith are several suggestions: Let's try one or two in context.

The original:
The Administration appreciates the support of the Committee for authorities that assist the ability of the warfighter to operate in unconventional and irregular warfare, authorities that are important to field commanders, such as the Commanders' Emergency Response Program, Global Train and Equip Authority, and other programs that provide commanders with the resources and flexibility to counter unconventional threats or support contingency or stability operations.
Now, patriotic defender:
The Administration appreciates the support of the Committee for authorities that assist the ability of the patriotic defender to operate in unconventional and irregular warfare, authorities that are important to field commanders, such as the Commanders' Emergency Response Program, Global Train and Equip Authority, and other programs that provide commanders with the resources and flexibility to counter unconventional threats or support contingency or stability operations.
And, champions of the american way
The Administration appreciates the support of the Committee for authorities that assist the ability of the champions of the american way to operate in unconventional and irregular warfare, authorities that are important to field commanders, such as the Commanders' Emergency Response Program, Global Train and Equip Authority, and other programs that provide commanders with the resources and flexibility to counter unconventional threats or support contingency or stability operations.
posted by notyou at 11:01 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Guys, just imagine how much worse it would be if it were a Republican in the White House. Right? Guys?

Well, I don't imagine the bill would be under the active threat of a veto by that imaginary President, no. So, yes, that would be worse.

I'm really not sure what point you're trying to make here. Maybe you're just pointing to the fact that there's a pretty good chance Congress will be able to pass this with a veto-proof majority, so that it doesn't matter who's President?
posted by yoink at 11:08 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like that the one thing the patricians can agree on is putting the screws to the plebeians.

How, exactly, is this bill about that?
posted by yoink at 11:10 AM on December 6, 2011


it doesn't matter who's President?

Bingo.

Either way I fully support a presidential veto. Hopefully President Obama will take a stand here.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:13 AM on December 6, 2011


Glenn Greenwald: Congress endorsing military detention, a new AUMF

The We-Are-At-War! mentality
posted by homunculus at 11:14 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Good Lord. Apparently I'm not quite cynical and paranoid enough.

"No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up." - Lily Tomlin
posted by homunculus at 11:15 AM on December 6, 2011


I'm not too clear on how pocket vetoes work, so is that also a possibility here?

No. The thing that's called a pocket veto is not a special extra kind of power.

Here's how a regular veto works

(1) Bill sent to President
(2) President gets about a week and a half to dither about it
(3) During that week and a half, he vetoes it
(4) Back to Congress
(5) Did the bill get 2/3 of each chamber in a new vote? If so, overridden.

A pocket veto is just a veto during the last week and a half of the Congress. If Congress has gone out of session during the President's dithering period, the process goes like this

(1) Bill sent to President
(2) He gets his ditherin' time, and Congress adjourns sine die
(3) If he vetoes it, Congress isn't around to override it, so the veto is final

Recognizing that this is the case, the Constitution makes it even simpler: if the President just doesn't sign the bill, it's considered vetoed and dead. Not because of a special extra pocket veto power, but just because Congress isn't around to override any veto the President might make in this time period.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:15 AM on December 6, 2011


How, exactly, is this bill about that?

Well, I could imagine these provisions being used against patricians (like Kenyan-born Muslim terrorist senators), but haven't all of the Americans who have been falsely imprisoned for extended periods as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers been plebians?
posted by XMLicious at 11:17 AM on December 6, 2011


From homunculus' first Greenwald link.

"as odious and definitively radical as the powers are which this bill endorses, it doesn’t actually change the status quo all that much. That’s because the Bush and Obama administrations have already successfully claimed most of the powers in the bill, and courts have largely acquiesced. To be sure, there are dangers to having Congress formally codify these powers. But a powerful sign of how degraded our political culture has become is that this bill — which in any other time would be shockingly extremist — actually fits right in with who we are as a nation and what our political institutions are already doing."

Nailed it.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:18 AM on December 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


it doesn't matter who's President?

Bingo.

Either way I fully support a presidential veto. Hopefully President Obama will take a stand here.


Is that level of cognitive dissonance physically painful?
posted by yoink at 11:22 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


homunculus,

Damn straight and I was coming to post the Greenwald link.

-----

Well, I don't imagine the bill would be under the active threat of a veto by that imaginary President, no. So, yes, that would be worse.

This is an exceptionally poor occasion to try and make the case that there is some sort of real difference between the two parties. Please read the Greenwald piece linked by homunculus. A very brief quote and there's a lot there reinforcing this point:

"Just to underscore what is — and is not — motivating the Obama administration’s objections to this bill, Sen. Levin has disclosed, as Dave Kopel documents, that “it was the Obama administration which told Congress to remove the language in the original bill which exempted American citizens and lawful residents from the detention power,” on the ground it would unduly restrict the decision-making of Executive Branch officials. In other words, Obama officials wanted the flexibility to militarily detain even U.S. citizens if they were so inclined, and are angry that this bill purports to limit their actions."

I believe that Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish intended to link here.
posted by BigSky at 11:33 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Recognizing that this is the case, the Constitution makes it even simpler: if the President just doesn't sign the bill, it's considered vetoed and dead. Not because of a special extra pocket veto power, but just because Congress isn't around to override any veto the President might make in this time period.

Thanks. My main confusion was that the Wikipedia article said that a pocket veto occurs when Congress "adjourns" before the ten day decision period runs out, and I wasn't sure if there was some type of adjournment other than the session ending, whether such an adjournment would be likely if it existed, and whether the timing of this bill being put in front of the President would allow for a pocket veto if not.
posted by invitapriore at 11:35 AM on December 6, 2011


I look at votes like this, and I have to wonder who it is who has photos of every single member of Congress in a hotel room with an underage hooker...

I can't possibly vote for anyone who supported this bill. I wouldn't vote for their opponents, necessarily, but how could I vote for anyone who backed this? How could I vote for Obama if he didn't veto this, regardless of whether his veto will be overridden? Sometimes you gotta do the right thing even if you know you'll fail.

Jesus. It's been ten years. Can we stop wetting our pants yet?

(...or is this really about "Islamic" terrorism at all? Or about domestic "regulate Wall Street for Reals" terrorists?)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:40 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The good news? The Tea Party in Arizona is mobilizing to recall McCain over this. I assume that other conservative groups are doing similar things.

Not that you'd see that from RedState or Drudge. Scarily, despite being very right leaning and libertarian... they're pretty much in lockstep with the party heads on this one.

The derth of effective responses to this and the general media silence is truly frightening.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:02 PM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


“it was the Obama administration which told Congress to remove the language in the original bill which exempted American citizens and lawful residents from the detention power,” on the ground it would unduly restrict the decision-making of Executive Branch officials. In other words, Obama officials wanted the flexibility to militarily detain even U.S. citizens if they were so inclined, and are angry that this bill purports to limit their actions."

BigSky, I've already pointed out above why this is incorrect. The language Levin refers to does not prevent the administration from using these detention powers--it simply said that they don't have to do so.

Seriously, it is completely effing bizarre that this is being held up as the "It doesn't matter who you vote for" issue du jour. McCain, who would be President if people hadn't voted for Obama, is one of the principal authors of the objectionable parts of this bill. Obama is threatening to veto it--despite the fact that these provisions are very, very popular in Congress and that such a veto will be politically costly moving towards what is likely to be a difficult enough reelection campaign. You could hardly ask for starker proof that it really, really matters who you vote for.
posted by yoink at 12:02 PM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


...or is this really about "Islamic" terrorism at all? Or about domestic "regulate Wall Street for Reals" terrorists?

jamjam nailed it back in April.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:04 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


jamjam nailed it back in April.

Paranoid delusions really don't help craft an effective progressive politics.
posted by yoink at 12:12 PM on December 6, 2011


Paranoid delusions really don't help craft an effective progressive politics.

When has that ever been a concern of yours?
posted by furiousthought at 12:17 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Paranoid delusions really don't help craft an effective progressive politics.

Never, in my most paranoid moments, did I think that either party would move openly to abolish habeas.

Just how hard does the heel need to be pressing down on your throat before you understand how bad things have gotten?
posted by ryanshepard at 12:21 PM on December 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I give up on this stupid country.
posted by Legomancer at 12:39 PM on December 6 [+] [!]

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

-Edmund Burke
posted by benito.strauss at 9:53 AM on December 6 [+] [!]


Golly, I've never heard that quote before! You're absolutely right! I'll get right on...uh...speaking sternly against this.
posted by Legomancer at 12:24 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Never, in my most paranoid moments, did I think that either party would move openly to abolish habeas.

This bill doesn't do that. And that has been done in the past, so it is a bit odd that your wildest flights of fancy didn't extend to actual historical fact.
posted by yoink at 12:30 PM on December 6, 2011


When has that ever been a concern of yours?

Straight answer to a really shittily snide question: for as long as I have had any political opinions at all. The reason the US left as represented on Metafilter pisses me off is because I think they have absolutely no tactical understanding whatsoever about how to achieve their goals, or any ability to distinguish which battles are worth making a stand for and which are not. As to the goals themselves, there's really not much daylight.

Of course, I recognize that those who disagree with me do so are sincere in the goals they profess and that we simply disagree about what is possible in the shorter term or at what point one should seek extra-institutional solutions to policy problems. No doubt it would be more fun to simply assume that they're actually arguing in bad faith and that they actually actively seek to harm the very causes they claim to champion. But then I'd really have to be a jerk to do that, wouldn't I?
posted by yoink at 12:49 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is that level of cognitive dissonance physically painful?

How is it cognitive dissonance to support a position and hope our President also supports that position? The fact that it may or may not really matter what Obama does has nothing to do with the substance of the position. Let me state it clearly for you so that you don't misunderstand. I have serious doubts about whether it matters if the president is democrat or republican when it comes to matters of national security. Even so I hope that our current president will have the courage to stand up and veto this bill which codifies the shredding of the constitution that has taken place since September 11, 2001.

This bill doesn't do that. And that has been done in the past

Talk about cognitive dissonance. The bill codifies what has been done and authorized in the past and makes the current situation a new status quo until the GWOT is declared over. The fact that some people were unaware that this was the case is no reason to belittle them.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:54 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The bill codifies what has been done and authorized in the past and makes the current situation a new status quo until the GWOT is declared over

Which does not include the suspension (let alone the abolition) of habeus corpus--you know, the specific claim to which I was referring.
posted by yoink at 12:57 PM on December 6, 2011


How is it cognitive dissonance to support a position and hope our President also supports that position?

It's cognitive dissonance to say that it makes no difference who is President and to express the wish that the President would veto the bill when one of the prime authors of the bill would have been President if we hadn't elected Obama and when Obama IS in fact threatening to veto the damn bill. The President has already attempted to use his influence to get this language out of the bill, might yet be able to kill it by the veto, and yet somehow this proves that it just doesn't matter who is President?
posted by yoink at 1:02 PM on December 6, 2011


this proves that it just doesn't matter who is President?

Never claimed it proved anything. The fact that he hasn't come out and rejected the power of the executive branch to use this power does say a lot though. As has been pointed out upthread this isn't anything new. Basically Obama and Congress are quibbling over the details of how the power to indefinitely detain people is used.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:08 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The bill codifies what has been done and authorized in the past and makes the current situation a new status quo until the GWOT is declared over. The fact that some people were unaware that this was the case is no reason to belittle them.

I'm aware that habeas has been temporarily suspended in the past, and understand what the bill codifies. I'm also not naive enough to think that the WOT will ever be declared over, or that the lack of a sunset clause here is an oversight.

But I also didn't see any point in arguing w/yoink.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:38 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, when you are simply factually wrong I guess it is pretty hard to argue your case. But it is amazingly easy, apparently, to excuse that by turning to ad hominem.
posted by yoink at 1:46 PM on December 6, 2011


So it doesn't suspend Habeas Corpus per se, Yoink, but doesn't it accomplish this by sliding people out and around the civilian legal system? They can be yanked off the street for supporting terrorism, thrown into a military jail, and... left there to rot?

It doesn't say they are to be held without charge or trial and it doesn't say that explicitly that Habeas Corpus is dead. It does say that the military can (but is not mandated) to send you away, no passing go, no collecting rights as would be expected after arrest in the civilan system. So how is that not the same thing?
posted by Slackermagee at 2:20 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh, there's a golden idea from George Carlin. Run for office in 2012 on the platform of, "I'll call a spade a spade and not a warfighter whatever the hell that is."
posted by Slackermagee at 2:22 PM on December 6, 2011


Just how hard does the heel need to be pressing down on your throat before you understand how bad things have gotten?

When indefinite military detention starts being inflicted on white people.
posted by Trurl at 3:43 PM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


When indefinite military detention starts being inflicted on white people.

How would we know? All of those cloth hoods are black
posted by Slackermagee at 4:10 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


So it doesn't suspend Habeas Corpus per se, Yoink, but doesn't it accomplish this by sliding people out and around the civilian legal system? They can be yanked off the street for supporting terrorism, thrown into a military jail, and... left there to rot?

There seems to be a misunderstanding as to what habeas corpus means. This act codifies (to an extent) what is already the case in the administration's treatment of foreign terrorist suspects (i.e. those held at Guantanamo). The Supreme Court took up the question of whether those detainees had habeas corpus rights in the Rasul v Bush decision of 2004. The Supremes ruled that they did--and they have been exercising that right ever since. Habeas is not, however, a get out of jail free card, which appears to be what ryandshephard thinks. It is simply a means by which the administration can be forced to show cause for holding you.

So this bill has quite literally nothing whatsoever to do with habeas. It is in no sense tantamount to or even related to a suspension of habeas corpus. If the law goes into effect writs of habeas corpus will continue to be filed, and there will be no prohibition on filing them on behalf of detainees under the act.
posted by yoink at 5:00 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


They can be yanked off the street for supporting terrorism, thrown into a military jail, and... left there to rot?

But this is still part of it, right?
posted by josher71 at 5:38 PM on December 6, 2011


Passing this bill should be considered an act of terrorism and those congress persons should be held indefinitely. Honesty, as a law-abiding citizen, this bill terrorizes me more than any terrorists we constantly hear about on Fox news.

Besides, more Americans are hurt by sharks and lightning strikes every year than terrorists anyhow, what is congress doing about that?
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 5:39 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn. What happened to Carl Levin? I remember him being, well, not evil when I was younger. I actually met him when I was in high school, and he gave me the impression of being a decent human being. If I recall, he used to be more of a left leaning Dem, and usually sided on the human rights side of the equation. Recently, every time I see his name attached to a bill, it's something that makes me quite glad that I don't live in the States anymore.

Are there any 'good guys' left at the national level of politics anymore?
posted by Ghidorah at 7:04 PM on December 6, 2011


Paranoid delusions really don't help craft an effective progressive politics.

Warrantless wiretapping and dragnet surveillance of all Internet traffic via wiretaps in major network backbones. Killer robotic drones assassinating US citizens from abroad. The CIA destroying evidence of torture and the DOJ giving them a pass.

You can agree with this if you want. There are plenty of wonderfully twisted legal arguments I've heard from supposed progressive legal experts on here that these are all perfectly legal actions and besides, Obama is better than the other guys, right? It's not really abolishing habeas corpus, it just gives the military the power to charge citizens in secret military courts. It's not really assassination, it's "targeted killing". It's not really wiretapping, it's "access to business records in connection with a terror investigation."

You can claim it's all legal, but you can no longer claim the people saying our government is spying on us and actively curtailing civil liberties are paranoid. If somebody said 20 years ago that the US would have robotic killer drones and massive supercomputers monitoring everything we do, they would have been called paranoid. Well, it seems the paranoid ones have the closest grasp on reality right now.
posted by formless at 7:28 PM on December 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


I did find this amusing.
posted by pjern at 7:30 PM on December 6, 2011


As a non-American, I heartily support this legislation. Equal (lack of) rights, and all that.
posted by pompomtom at 8:37 PM on December 6, 2011


First they came for the al-Qaeda, and I did nothing, because I was a major news media outlet.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:09 PM on December 6, 2011


I actually met him when I was in high school, and he gave me the impression of being a decent human being.

Giving the impression of being a decent human being is a skill that can be learned like any other.
posted by clarknova at 9:19 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Warrantless wiretapping and dragnet surveillance of all Internet traffic via wiretaps in major network backbones. Killer robotic drones assassinating US citizens from abroad. The CIA destroying evidence of torture and the DOJ giving them a pass.

You can agree with this if you want.


Where did I say I agree with any of that? I said that one specific assertion--that the purpose of this legislation was to disappear OWS protestors was a paranoid delusion. It is a paranoid delusion. The fact that you have to hang out a laundry list of unrelated issues and accuse me of supporting them to try to give some air of reality to the absurd claim that I was actually contesting rather proves my point.

It's not really abolishing habeas corpus, it just gives the military the power to charge citizens in secret military courts.

No, it's not abolishing habeus corpus in the least and it's not creating "secret military courts." Those are two non-facts about this legislation. In my (wacky, I know!) opinion, it's not helpful to argue against things one does not want (and please, try to notice that I am praising Obama in this thread because he is threatening to veto this bill--I am not arguing in favor of the measure) by utterly mischaracterizing what it does and doesn't do.
posted by yoink at 10:46 AM on December 7, 2011


It is a paranoid delusion.

You mean like it was a paranoid delusion to think they would use provisions of the Patriot Act against people other than terrorists. No one is claiming that they will start disappearing OWS protesters. The original link which references OWS in the context of the bill says this:

As always, it’s not the intention of the legislators that ultimately matters, it’s the legislative text and it’s interpretable potential for as long as it may stand as law.

This is not being paranoid delusional. So it seems you agree with a veto and that it's bad law. Good. Now we need to convince our congressmen of the same thing.

Write Your Representative

Write Your Senator
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:17 AM on December 7, 2011


They can be yanked off the street for supporting terrorism, thrown into a military jail, and... left there to rot?

But this is still part of it, right?


I'm not being a jerk. Really, is this part of the bill?
posted by josher71 at 1:01 PM on December 7, 2011


what the heck kind of word/ entity is "the warfighter" that the Obama admin policy writes about?

:-D
HI THERE!

It seems to come from the manuals and journals "Warfighting" for example. You can more easily delineate the elements. Like Combat Power. Sounds like something a kid would name a gauntlet or something. But it's a technical term too.
Personally speaking, I like it. It should be a thick, brutal, flexible term that you can verb-noun without loosing the meaning "Fight wars".
I despise euphemism that all too often tries to vail the brutality. "Soft Ordinance" like we're throwing pillows.


This bill is just more euphemistic crap encroachment on habeus corpus trying to lay the ground work for codification of it. And pretending everywhere is a war zone. A dangerous war zone which requires emergency or 'special' responses, which will only last, y'know, as long as the war on concept lasts.

The U.S. government has already blatantly blew habeus out of the water with (U.S. citizen) Jose Padilla. Held for three years without charge.
The feds argued Ex parte Quirin gave them the right to designate and hold unlawful combatants. They argued against Hamdan that the Geneva Conventions don't apply to detainees in the War on Terror.
A neat trick. He's an unlawful combatant, so we can grab him. And we can hold him forever because no court can try them, because he's not a civilian (everywhere's a battlefield) and he's not military (he's not in uniform).
But the courts ruled against them.
So they passed a law (because fuck you Justices) and authorized trial by military commission for violations of the law of war, and for other purposes."It's the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which means you can't bring up the Geneva conventions when executing a writ of habeas corpus or in other civil actions.

No Soup!? No Lawyer for You!


Habeas corpus can't be suspended unless it's for public safety in case of rebellion or invasion.
This effectively says we've been invaded. But only the President and the military get to determine that under special circumstances and they can be isolated to one person.

Legally, you would be in an eigenstate. A sort of lawless zone like when you're on a boarder and the rules become fuzzy. Same thing here. The language in the add-on doesn't require a big bold "THIS ENDS HABEUS CORPUS" but needs only to place someone in military custody (as it does) and keep the legal question where it is, in the twilight zone, unresolved.

Basically, yeah, it's been a bit misrepresented, but given the patterns of how this would integrate with other standing law and the patterns of use in the past you would wind up with an unfunded mandate tying an agencies hands and preventing their legal response to a writ because the legal questions haven't been settled and (given the bill passes) they don't have the guy in custody.
You can deliver a writ of habeus corpus to the 7th District court but if your guy is being held at Ft. Bragg, there's nothing a judge can do.
So it's an end run at the very least. Is a military base within the jurisdiction of the court it resides in for national security matters?
*shrug* worked fine with the first WTC bombing.
It only worked because the FBI used common sense.
Then they put guys at Gitmo. It's overseas. Now what court district is it in?
*shrug*

None of this has been hashed out. People were relying on common sense. Of course you can't just take a guy from Chicago and dump him in a military prison.
Oh, wait. Let's try it and see if we can tell the judges to GFYS.
Yeah, we can, because his jurisdiction ends on military soil, because uh ....this is a military prisoner. Yeah. He's dangerous, see?
Nevermind the courts delt with it just fine in 1993. Nevermind Ramzi Yousef was arrested outside the U.S. Nevermind that he's a Kuwaiti citizen. We tried him in the U.S. District court for southern New York and put him into a U.S. prison (Manard or Colorado, IFW).

So the trend has clearly been going away from the model we had.

And we're in the process of settling some of the questions posed by the chaotic clown riot that was the Bush Administration and unfortunately, we see how it looks like it's going to come down.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:11 PM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


we see how it looks like it's going to come down.

If you look at the history of our country we've headed down similar paths before. I guess here I'm specifically thinking of the Civil War and what we did to Japanese Americans during WWII, but in the past we've always had prescient leaders who had the vision and good judgement to correct the ship of state so to say. Nowadays it seems that is not the case, but I guess that remains to be seen. I don't see much hope though. The damage that has been done to the Constitution and the rule of law in the last 10 years is mind boggling. What's even more depressing, to me anyways, is that most people seem to be unaware or in some kind of denial about what is actually happening. I see well intentioned people, friends even, telling me that I should vote this way and that as if some mystical political calculus(which is never clearly defined) justifies the lack of backbone by our supposedly progressive leaders. Yeah....
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:40 PM on December 7, 2011


BigSky, I've already pointed out above why this is incorrect. The language Levin refers to does not prevent the administration from using these detention powers--it simply said that they don't have to do so.

Seriously, it is completely effing bizarre that this is being held up as the "It doesn't matter who you vote for" issue du jour. McCain, who would be President if people hadn't voted for Obama, is one of the principal authors of the objectionable parts of this bill. Obama is threatening to veto it--despite the fact that these provisions are very, very popular in Congress and that such a veto will be politically costly moving towards what is likely to be a difficult enough reelection campaign. You could hardly ask for starker proof that it really, really matters who you vote for.


OK. Looks like you're right. And I'm upset that the sources which reported this have not made a correction.

However, this is still a most heinous bill and Obama's stance against it is feeble at best. And while I acknowledge this specific threat of a veto is a bad spot to make the case that there's little difference between the two parties, I'm far from convinced that Obama is any kind of a champion of civil liberties or that our circumstances would be significantly different under a McCain administration.
posted by BigSky at 3:58 AM on December 8, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "[warfighter] is a shitty neologism that sounds awesome in policy papers, military contractor brochures, and FPS video games."

If memory serves, I was told yesterday by a guy who used to write Army training scenarios that it comes out of Army writing in the 1970s or 1980s, and was used to distinguish support troops from front line infantry, engineers, cavalry, and other gun-toting units.

But yeah, it's a little embarassing at this point.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:12 AM on December 8, 2011


A little clarification, at least according to one of the authors of this site, about where things currently stand.

Does the NDAA Authorize Detention of US Citizens?

The NDAA and US Citizen Detention
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:35 AM on December 8, 2011


And also these two posts from the same site which aren't focused only on the issue of the fpp but are informative nonetheless.

House-Senate Side-by-Side of NDAA Provisions: Part I

House-Senate Side-by-Side of NDAA Provisions: Part II
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:40 AM on December 8, 2011


The Daily Show: Arrested Development - One-Way Train to Gitmo
posted by homunculus at 11:19 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So much for the veto threat.

And the bill passed the house 283-136.

How long will people continue to support this president as he continues to take us down the path embarked on by the last Bush administration?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:36 AM on December 15, 2011


Obama to sign indefinite detention bill into law
posted by homunculus at 9:17 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Happy Birthday, Bill [of Rights]: Obama Breaks Promise To Veto Bill Allowing Indefinite Detention of Americans
posted by homunculus at 12:43 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


1031(e) says current law applies to US citizens. Where is it legal to detain US citizens without trial in the US?

It isn't and Bush got crushed when he tried. he lost at the second circuit, the supreme court punted and he went on to transfer Padilla to a civilian court.

There is no such authority in US law. Its called a writ of Habeus corpus.

Just read the actual bill. All I ask of you.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:47 PM on December 15, 2011


Reposting this from the other thread, considering this one is more appropriate:

From the link homunculus posted:

At least Senator Lindsey Graham was honest when he said on the Senate floor that “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

And both the bill's cosponsors, Levin and McCain, agree it could apply to citizens, even saying they could be sent to Guantanamo.

How does that not override habeus? These are the bills co-sponsors stating this Ironmouth.
posted by formless at 12:50 PM on December 15, 2011


Reposting this from the other thread, considering this one is more appropriate:

From the link homunculus posted:

At least Senator Lindsey Graham was honest when he said on the Senate floor that “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

And both the bill's cosponsors, Levin and McCain, agree it could apply to citizens, even saying they could be sent to Guantanamo.

How does that not override habeus? These are the bills co-sponsors stating this Ironmouth.


First off, Habeus is a fucking constitutional right. That's how.

second off, read 1031(e) just read it. These people are saying that so that their constituents will not kick them out of office for being soft on terror. But that's not what the actual bill says:
(e) Authorities- Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.
Now where is the law that says that you can detain a US citizen indefinitely in the US?
posted by Ironmouth at 1:01 PM on December 15, 2011


Regardless of the ultimate court ruling on the constitutionality of this bill, do you think this bill will be used to detain US citizens?

It's nice to argue that it's unconstitutional, and that eventually it may get struck down by the courts, but in the meantime many people may be affected by it.

That's why it's not enough to just let the courts handle issues like this.

So, do you think this bill will be used as part of the legal reasoning to detain US citizens?
posted by formless at 1:35 PM on December 15, 2011


Regardless of the ultimate court ruling on the constitutionality of this bill, do you think this bill will be used to detain US citizens?

It's nice to argue that it's unconstitutional, and that eventually it may get struck down by the courts, but in the meantime many people may be affected by it.

That's why it's not enough to just let the courts handle issues like this.

So, do you think this bill will be used as part of the legal reasoning to detain US citizens?


the exemption is a horrible idea. the problem is this, an exemption says "US Citzens are exempt from this power." Sounds like a great idea huh? But it also implies "Without this exemption, US citizens would not be exempt from this power." A repeal of an exemption provision would create a positive declaration by Congress that the power does apply to US citizens.

Instead, by saying that current US law applies, Congress is not saying anything on the subject. It also means courts do not have to defer to Congressional intent when analyzing the provision. Get it? Better to say nothing than to open that door.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:39 PM on December 15, 2011


Yep you're right Ironmouth. You know more about the law than the folks at the ACLU or the authors of the fucking bill. What type of law do you practice again? You're no constitutional lawyer so excuse me if I take the word of the authors of the bill and numerous other constitutional scholars and lawyers who have gone on the record saying that this bill DOES apply to American citizens. Your bending over backwards to justify this because the actions of your leader have shown him for the coward and traitor to the constitution he is. You can't even bring yourself to believe what is being openly admitted on the floors of the house and senate. That's how far in the sand your head is.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:41 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yep you're right Ironmouth. You know more about the law than the folks at the ACLU or the authors of the fucking bill. What type of law do you practice again? You're no constitutional lawyer so excuse me if I take the word of the authors of the bill and numerous other constitutional scholars and lawyers who have gone on the record saying that this bill DOES apply to American citizens.

I'm just asking you why you think it is a good idea for the bill to say that it doesn't cover US citizens when that opens up the implication that if that section were repealed, it would cover US citizens. Instead of telling me that somehow I'm supposed to believe politicians rather than my own eyes. Just point out to me why 1031(e) is not the best way of handling this issue.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:48 PM on December 15, 2011


In other words: Shh! Don't give them any ideas!
posted by Trurl at 4:11 PM on December 15, 2011


I'm just asking you why you think it is a good idea for the bill to say that it doesn't cover US citizens when that opens up the implication that if that section were repealed, it would cover US citizens.

This logic is so flawed I'm not even going to reply....

Just point out to me why 1031(e) is not the best way of handling this issue.

Because subsection (e) doesn't handle anything. It just says that nothing changes in regard to the already existing laws which allow for the use indefinite detention.

Do understand the meaning of the word requirement(sec. 1032 subsec. (b))? Section 1032 of the bill provides an exemption from American citizens being "required" to be held by the military, but no exemption from the authorization, in section 1031, to indefinitely imprison people without charge or trial.

Either you can't read or you're not arguing in good faith. Did you watch the video of what Lindsey Graham said on the Senate floor? Here let me quote it for you so that you can't avoid the truth.

"The Statement of Authority to Detain does apply to American Citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland. Are you familiar with the Padilla case? That is a Federal court case involving an American citizen captured in the United States who was held for several years as an enemy combatant. His case went to the Fourth Circuit. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said: An American citizen can be held by our military as an enemy combatant, even if they are caught in the United States, because once they join the enemy forces, then they present a military threat and their citizenship is not a sort of a get-out-of-jail-free card; that the law of the land is that an American citizen can be held as an enemy combatant. That went to the Fourth Circuit. That, as I speak, is the law of the land."

So subsection (e) which you keep going on about doesn't do a damn thing; it merely affirms the current status quo which allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens even if they are arrested in the United States.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:12 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth, the provision that authorizes detention of citizens is the exact one that you quoted, because the prevailing opinion is that such detentions are in fact legal under current law. So yes, a specific call-out would be better, because at least then it would be illegal. Better still would be a provision that goes something like, "in order to ensure full compliance with their Constitutional rights, nothing in this passage shall be construed to apply to US citizens."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:18 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


A few years ago there was this meme that "the government" had these huge camps and that they were going to round people up and detain them as part of the "new world order". Black helicopters came into this too, but I forget how. Proponents of this were roundly poo-pooed because, among other things, this would be wildly unconstitutional.

Can anyone tell me how we got from "this is nonsense and conspiratorial" to "this is the sort of reasonable and non-partisan legislation we obviously need"?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:41 PM on December 15, 2011


Can anyone tell me how we got from "this is nonsense and conspiratorial" to "this is the sort of reasonable and non-partisan legislation we obviously need"?

Incrementalism.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:08 PM on December 15, 2011


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: “Ironmouth, the provision that authorizes detention of citizens is the exact one that you quoted, because the prevailing opinion is that such detentions are in fact legal under current law.”

That's absolute nonsense. That's like saying this bill authorizes me to eat sardines, because it doesn't say I can't, and because prevailing opinion is that it's currently legal.

Seriously, most of the news outlets that have covered this (and the ACLU, etc) have gotten this bill very wrong. One wonders how many people have actually read it. I would like a bill that changes the law for the better, but why the massive fuss about a bill that doesn't change the law at all? There's a reason this got bipartisan support.
posted by koeselitz at 9:16 AM on December 16, 2011


AElfwine Evenstar: “So subsection (e) which you keep going on about doesn't do a damn thing; it merely affirms the current status quo which allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens even if they are arrested in the United States.”

Not only the Feinstein amendment – subsection (e) – but the whole bill doesn't do a damned thing. That's the point of subsection (e) – the bill changes absolutely nothing.

I agree that the status quo is bad. This bill changes none of it. Why are we arguing about this?
posted by koeselitz at 9:19 AM on December 16, 2011


Because the status quo is bad, and this is a bill that says "the status quo is good, you are hereby authorized by federal law to keep it up."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:59 AM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is not a bill at all that says "the status quo is good." Nothing in this bill says anything of the kind. The bill merely says "the status quo doesn't change."
posted by koeselitz at 10:17 AM on December 16, 2011


I agree that the status quo is bad. This bill changes none of it. Why are we arguing about this?

Well, for me, the answer is, because the bill could have changed the status quo. There were provisions in previous drafts that would have explicitly changed the status quo. And the Obama administration worked to have those provisions taken out.

The Obama administration has demonstrated that it doesn't really see the civil liberties encroachments by the Executive over the last ten years as much of a problem. Indeed, the administration seems to want to continue to wield the power that this post-9/11 eroded-civil-liberties "status quo" gives them.

Which is why Obama will sign the bill. He's made sure that none of these questionable powers are further questioned by an updated rule of law. He's now free to continue the abuses of civil liberties that his predecessor put in place. I honestly didn't think that was the president I voted for. I was wrong.
posted by Brak at 5:27 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


One wonders how many people have actually read it.

but why the massive fuss about a bill that doesn't change the law at all?

The bill merely says "the status quo doesn't change."

Yes, but it one actually reads the bill one would see that this bill extends executive detention powers that were set to expire. So yes I am throwing a fuss.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:11 PM on December 16, 2011


But that's the fucking problem isn't it. We the American People aren't throwing a big of enough fuss. Can we all at least agree on that? I resolve we all throw a "massive fuss".We have kinda done this to ourselves, all of us in a way. I would quote radiohead everybody already knows the lyric anyway.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:27 PM on December 16, 2011


Three Myths About The Detention Bill
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:48 AM on December 17, 2011


From my link above:
Section (1) is basically a re-statement of the 2001 AUMF. But Section (2) is a brand new addition. It allows the President to target not only those who helped perpetrate the 9/11 attacks or those who harbored them, but also: anyone who “substantially supports” such groups and/or “associated forces.” Those are extremely vague terms subject to wild and obvious levels of abuse. This is a substantial statutory escalation of the War on Terror and the President’s powers under it...
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:52 AM on December 17, 2011


How handy that Glenn Greenwald has disproven three myths that nobody anywhere has claimed are true.
posted by koeselitz at 12:28 PM on December 17, 2011


Why I Voted Against the National Defense Authorization Act from Al Franken.

Add yet another Senator who seems to believe this bill does more than the supporters are claiming in this thread .

There's a reason this got bipartisan support.

Yes, for the same reason the PATRIOT Act got bipartisan support. The Republicans are authoritarians by their nature and the Democrats are too afraid to appear soft on terror.

Upthread I asked supporters of this bill specifically if they thought it would be used to detain US citizens. The question was dodged with the usual waffling.

I'm willing to make a claim that this bill will be used as justification in the future for detainment of US citizens.
posted by formless at 8:27 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's a reason this got bipartisan support.

The reason being that both parties are in favor of the government having the power to imprison people for life without trial.
posted by Trurl at 8:50 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


formless: “Upthread I asked supporters of this bill specifically if they thought it would be used to detain US citizens. The question was dodged with the usual waffling.”

I've said no, and I've said why I think that. Where's the waffling?
posted by koeselitz at 8:44 AM on December 18, 2011


Also, it annoys me to be characterized as a "supporter of the bill" when I've expressed no support for it whatsoever, and have even criticized it. My point here has merely been that I don't think it does what people are claiming it does. As far as I can tell, no one has claimed support for this bill at all, so calling some people "supporters of this bill" is disingenuous at best.
posted by koeselitz at 8:51 AM on December 18, 2011


I hope I don't sound ungracious, but speaking as someone who is not a USAn citizen who visits the USA, I'm not altogether comforted by the fact that you guys think it's quite alright to have non-citizens imprisoned without charge. As far as I'm aware Habeas Corpus is generally considered to be a universal right in common law countries.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:56 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Next, step two:

Declare domestic activists terrorists.
posted by formless at 9:03 PM on December 20, 2011


What Libyan Rebels Could Teach Obama About the Rule of Law: Why is the United States entrenching the same kind of military detention system that Arab revolutionaries have given their lives to overthrow?
posted by homunculus at 11:03 AM on December 21, 2011


So... You've Been Indefinitely Detained! Helpful Information From Your U.S. Government!
posted by homunculus at 11:04 AM on December 21, 2011


Did Congress Just Endorse Rendition for Americans?
posted by homunculus at 4:21 PM on December 22, 2011


Manning is charged with aiding terrorists: Pre-trial hearing for the WikiLeaks suspect reveals the government's prosecution strategy
Now, it is clear: the effect of Manning’s prosecution has the potential to criminalize national security journalism. Not only would successfully putting Manning in prison for life without parole make an example for other soldiers to deter any others from responding to their moral conscience if they came across files that contained evidence of possible war crimes, but this would make it possible for the government to go after journalists who cover documents from the military or security industrial-complex.

This also cements the fact that WikiLeaks is viewed as a terrorist organization by the US government (or at least one that aids terrorist organizations through the publication of classified information). Anyone who releases information to WikiLeaks can count on being pursued by the government and, when caught, charged with “aiding the enemy”—terrorists, because they have access to the Internet and could read material that was once-secret.
posted by homunculus at 10:21 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cool down homunculus. I don't see what you're getting so worked up about. I mean it's not like our Republic is being dismantled piece by piece. It's not like small incremental changes to the laws of the land will one day usher in a police state. Don't worry. Go back to sleep. Incipient fascism is not on the prowl here, and you are better off just going to sleep and forgetting about it. The Federal Government will take care of you, and now by the looks of things they can now legally "take care of you".
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:48 AM on December 23, 2011


I'm intrigued by the fact as far as I can see (IANAL, esp. not a US Constitution specialist) the bill really is just a codification of existing precedent. If you accept the premises then the conclusion is inescapable. Yes, I know that the conclusion vitiates the USAn Bill of Rights as well as things like the definition of "treason" - but all these premises are backed up by precedent.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:22 AM on December 24, 2011


Obama Signs Defense Authorization Bill
posted by homunculus at 5:52 PM on December 31, 2011


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