This evening the U.S. House of Representatives passed, with overwhelming support, the National Defense Authorization Act in a 283-to-136 vote.
You’ll note that at the time the legislation was being debated Pressident Obama assured Americans that he would never sign the bill if it came to his desk.
The bill, which allows for the indefinite detainment of those, including American citizens, suspected of engaging in or supporting terrorist activity has not changed in any meaningful way over the last few weeks. This, of course, leaves inquiring minds questioning why the President would have so abruptly reversed his position:
Less than a month after he threatened to veto terrifying legislation that would cease constitutional rights as we know it, Obama has revoked his warning and plans to authorize a bill allowing indefinite detention and torture of Americans.
After passing in the House of Representatives earlier this year, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 went before the US Senate last week, where it was met with overwhelming approval. In the days before, the Obama administration issued a policy statement on November 17 saying explicitly that the president would veto the bill, as it would challenge “the president’s critical authorities to collect intelligence incapacitate dangerous terrorists and protect the nation.”
Opposition from the White House seemed all but rampant until RT revealed earlier this week that Senator Carl Levin told lawmakers that the legislation was altered because “the administration asked us to remove the language which says that US citizens and lawful residents would not be subject to this section.”
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that those last minute changes yielded legislation that would “not challenge the president’s ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists and protect the American people,” and therefore “the president’s senior advisers will not recommend a veto.”
Originally the White House said that the administration objected to matters in the bill that applied to detainees. Under the act, Americans could be arrested and held indefinitely in military-run prisons and tortured without charges ever being brought forth, essentially making Guantanamo Bay a threat for every American citizen.
On December 5th, ahead of Congressional voting, Senator Rand Paul warned that the new legislation would allow the government to detain American citizens under terrorism laws without evidence, charge or trial. Specifically, Paul cited the government’s own broad definitions and characterizations for domestic terrorism or suspicious activity as involving those who, among other things, own guns, ammunition or store food.
Bill Cosponsor John McCain (under questioning from Rand Paul) argues that detention (as defined by the National Defense Authorization Act) of anyone who is deemed a threat to the national security of the United States of America is appropriate:
The very fact that this bill was ever penned and allowed to get as far as it has gotten in our Constitutional Republic is cause for concern. A glimmer of hope existed for a few weeks when the President claimed he would veto it if it came to his desk. As has been the case throughout this administration’s term, however, our hope was for naught. Someone, somewhere needs this legislation to pass. To what end we can only speculate.