NDAA coasts through Congress, will be law
Yesterday President Obama reversed his position against the NDAA, which would allow the military the of indefinite detention of prisoners, saying he will not veto the bill. Last night the measure passed in the House of Representatives with a vote of 283-136. It is expected to pass in the Senate where earlier versions of the bill have passed with an overwhelming majority.
The National Defense Authorization Act is enacted yearly and essentially outlines the defense budget. The NDAA of 2012 has become very controversial because of certain provisions it contains known as the Levin/McCain bill. Co-sponsored by Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, respectively. The Levin/McCain bill grants the military the authority to detain prisoners “under the law or war until the end of hostilities authorized by the Authorization of Use of Military Force.”
The AUMF hastily passed a mere week after the 9/11 attacks granted the President the authority to:
use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occured on September 11, 2001.
This expansion of those powers has been widely criticized by civil and human rights groups, journalists, and until yesterday afternoon, President Obama. Last month the White House released statements indicating the President would veto the NDAA if it included any language that would grant the military the power to subject terrorism suspects to further detention rather than civilian trials. Critics believe Obama’s sudden reversal is due to political pressures.
In defense of their bill Senator Levin and Senator McCain co-authored an op-ed piece which appeared in the November 27 issue of the Washington Post. There they explain most criticisms against the bill are the result of misunderstanding. The Senators explained the bill merely codifies practices undertaken under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Further they contend the bill does not expand circumstances for detention or limit the avenues for relief or resolution of detainee cases. Ultimately, their defense of the bill rests on the fact the bill places an onus on the President to grant detainees transfer from military detention to civilian prisons and tribunals by waiver.
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