To no avail, four-star Generals call for Obama to veto the NDAA, and protect the Bill of Rights

It’s one thing when lefty reactionaries like me run around, warning people about pending legislation that will, if signed into law, end due process as we know it in the United States. It’s another thing altogether, however, when it’s a four-star general doing the frantic hand waving. And it’s exponentially more serious when you have two… Following is a clip from an op-ed in today’s New York Times by decorated Marine Corps Generals Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar… If you don’t believe me, I’m thinking that maybe you’ll believe them.

In his inaugural address, President Obama called on us to “reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” We agree. Now, to protect both, he must veto the National Defense Authorization Act that Congress is expected to pass this week.

This budget bill — which can be vetoed without cutting financing for our troops — is both misguided and unnecessary: the president already has the power and flexibility to effectively fight terrorism.

One provision would authorize the military to indefinitely detain without charge people suspected of involvement with terrorism, including United States citizens apprehended on American soil. Due process would be a thing of the past. Some claim that this provision would merely codify existing practice. Current law empowers the military to detain people caught on the battlefield, but this provision would expand the battlefield to include the United States — and hand Osama bin Laden an unearned victory long after his well-earned demise…

update: Well, it didn’t work. As the rest of us were celebrating New Year’s Eve, Obama signed this into law. Here’s a clip from ABC News:

In his last official act of business in 2011, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act from his vacation rental in Kailua, Hawaii. In a statement, the president said he did so with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge…

I cannot convey how pissed off this makes me. It would be one thing if he’d lied and said that he didn’t think that this bill would impact the civil liberties of American citizens, but that’s not what he did. He acknowledged that this legislation would erode our most basic rights, but then went on to sign it anyway! Can you believe that shit? Here’s a thought… If you’ve got reservations about legislation, don’t fucking sign it. How about that?

But, I’m sure that the Obamapologists out there will find a way to take comfort in the fact that, even though he signed it, he had reservations, as though that somehow makes the fact that Americans can now be locked up without due process palatable… This is a fucking terrible way to begin the new year. I should be taking pictures of my new son, and drinking wine, instead of thinking about this nonsense.

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  1. Edward
    Posted December 31, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I bet you’ll still have people arguing that it doesn’t in fact apply to U.S. citizens.

  2. John Galt
    Posted December 31, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Who are you going to believe on this, a few namby pamby government employees (AKA four-star Generals), or the reporters on Fox News, who say that we need this legislation in order to be safe?

    And, if you ask me, I think some pinko generals need a little pepper spraying.

  3. anonymous
    Posted December 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Also, this is from a user of Reddit:

    They are not just two random 4-star generals. Krulak was Commandant of the USMC, while Hoar’s last post was Commander-in-Chief of USCENTCOM (the military’s Middle East/ Africa command). They are not the kind of people easily or safely ignored.

  4. K2
    Posted December 31, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    This was not the happy, we just had a beautiful baby, the world is good, end-of-the-year post I was looking for.

  5. Max Abuelsamid
    Posted December 31, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    The NDAA has been signed into law, hello furthered police state!

    One thing I’ve really noticed and despise is the lack of transparency ANYWHERE in government or the private sector. I thought this was America, where the government is supposed to be “for the people, by the people.” If this actually is our government, why am I allowed to know almost nothing about ANYTHING the government or our major corporations do?

    I don’t give a shit if some little terrorist group in Somalia finds out what type of bombs we just gave to Israel (apartheid regime) or which corporation is giving each politician campaign donations (bribes), I want to know everything my government and the people that work for it do, or else it isn’t my government.

  6. Demetrius
    Posted December 31, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure the people who drafted this law knew exactly what they were doing, and that it will *never* be used to arrest and detain law-abiding American citizens secretly, and indefinitely, without trial.

    Oh, hang on a second. Some is knocking on my door.

    I’ll be right back …

  7. Posted December 31, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Permalink,-US-Senate?via=search

    Hope you like strange bedfellows.

  8. EOS
    Posted January 1, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Not only does NDAA allow for Americans to be imprisoned without due process, but it gives the Federal government the right to detain citizens in spite of being found innocent in a court of law. If the Constitution were still in effect, the Courts would have immediately overturned this legislation. Every rational voter should be outraged until every last person who voted for this is removed from office. There is no difference between Republicans and Democrats once you get past the rhetoric.

  9. EOS
    Posted January 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    The House passed the bill with 190 Republicans and 93 Democrats supporting it. Only 13 in the Senate voted against it: 6 Republicans, 6 Democrats, and one independent. Time to get rid of all the incumbents in Washington. Of the people, by the people, for the people…..

    This couldn’t happen without our complicity.

  10. Posted January 1, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    So you if you’re one of the people who doesn’t like this and you’re a Dem who doesn’t like the GOP, are you still going to vote for Obama in 2012?


  11. James Madison
    Posted January 1, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    George III, once the king of England when the 13 colonies revolted against British rule over them, used a logic exactly the same as Obama’s in violating the rights of due process set forth in the Magna Carta. Americans were right to be against George III, and Obama has now forfeited any serious claim on the support of Americans who still uphold the values of due process and the Bill of Rights.

    Shame on him.

  12. Meta
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    “President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield. The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.”

  13. Max Abuelsamid
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    “So you if you’re one of the people who doesn’t like this and you’re a Dem who doesn’t like the GOP, are you still going to vote for Obama in 2012?

    Look at it this way, would you rather have Rick Perry/Gingrich/another man-child as president or Obama? Honestly, there is not a single even remotely good serious candidate out there. We’re fucked regardless. However, if we vote for the least awful smelling pile of used tampons, we’ll hopefully avoid a little less of the now inevitable damage.

  14. EOS
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Here’s a New Year’s resolution: In 2012, do not vote for any presidential candidate who supports the indefinite detention of Americans without charge or trial.

  15. Mr. X
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    But Obama had reservations. Surely that’s worth something, right?

  16. Hawkeye
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Queen Amadaula says, ‘So that’s how freedom is lost…with cheers and
    Remember the NDAA in 2012 and vote out all incumbents regardless of party. Time to send a stronger message.

  17. Meta
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    An excerpt from an article by @MiltShook on the NDAA.

    “I don’t like this amendment any more than you do. But you know what? If he vetoes this bill to kill that amendment, and then causes the Republicans to win in 2012, they’re just going to pass the same bill, and allow President Gingrich/Romney/Perry to detain people at will, anyway, right?

    See, this is how politics works, pro and emo lefties; elections have consequences. When our side trashed Obama and the Democrats mercilessly in 2009-10, we helped right wing Republicans win. Hell; after the 2010 election, pro and emo “progressives” were CROWING about having defeated “Blue Dog” Democrats, thus giving teabaggers most of those seats, giving the Speaker’s chair to a Boner, and handing committee chairs over to right wingers, who replaced the progressives that had been chairing those committees. Look, folks; when you help right wingers get elected, you don’t get to act shocked and sadden when they do exactly what they promised to do.

    It’s not Obama’s fault he doesn’t have a line-item veto. The only way to veto this thing is to kill the entire bill. With Congress recessing today for about a month, that means the entire DOD and its contractors could go unfunded until late January or early February, if a deal could be worked out. That means a lot of contractors would have to fold up shop in the meantime. It could put some out of business altogether, but it could also mean millions out of work for at least a month or two. What about military people and contractors who are facing foreclosure; what would this do to them? It’s possible Congress might pass an emergency appropriation to cover this problem, but given the influence of the teabaggers, who in their right mind would count on something like that? In one year, they’ve damn near pushed through four government shutdowns.

    If you think you’re adhering to “principle” by demanding Obama veto this thing, I’m afraid you don’t understand the concept of “principle” very well. Each individual “principle” doesn’t work in a vacuum; they all work together. This reminds me of those idiots who wanted to kill the entire health care bill because it didn’t include a “public option.” To deny 30 million people health insurance, and force those with insurance to continue to endure the restrictions on coverage, just because you didn’t get what you wanted is not “principled.” It’s the opposite.

    The “Indefinite Detention Bill” will only potentially have a negative effect if a Republican wins in 2012, in any case.”

  18. Demetrius
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Honest question: Does Obama’s supposed “signing statement” have any real force? Does this make the overall law less odious? Does it limit future Presidents from arresting/detaining American citizens without trial?

    I’m just trying to understand how bad this really is.

  19. EOS
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    “Signing statements” have no constitutional authority. The president can only sign a bill, veto the bill, or refrain from signing. If the president doesn’t sign, after 10 days the bill becomes law except in those cases where Congress is not in session, and the bill dies and is termed a pocket veto. The president is sworn to uphold the Constitution and enforce the laws. He cannot pick and choose to enforce only those parts of the law he agrees with.

  20. Jackie
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Excellent coverage of an extremely dark topic, Mark. There should absolutely be a recall of every politician who voted for this; 50 movements, in 50 states, advocating strongly for turnover of every senator and congressperson who voted to pass the NDAA, as well as a nationwide movement to get Obama out in 2012. It’s beyond disappointing that he would even pay lip service to his “reservations”. It’s a bunch of bullshit, obviously, and just indicates he’s out of touch with the fact that the American people aren’t going to swallow legislation like this without batting an eyelid because he ‘seems like a reasonable guy who says he’s in a jam’. The bill could be rewritten without the rights-stripping aspects or just vetoed and nobody would be less safe for it.

  21. Jackie
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Max A.,

    There are options other than Obama, Romney, Gingrich, and Perry (all dangerous people, or in Perry’s case, just very dim). We have in 2012, two good options (which is almost an embarrassment of riches in terms of mainstream political candidate offerings, sorry to say): Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. Paul is unlikely to get the GOP nomination because the pro-war propaganda machine is in full force, but Johnson, a very successful two-term New Mexico Governor (a pro-gay rights, pro-legalization, pro-choice “republican”) is running for the Libertarian party nomination. Don’t waste your vote voting “against” “the lesser of two evils”. Evil is evil. Your vote is binary, and without commentary to the people counting the votes, and will indicate approval. Show the mainstream parties that you aren’t buying what they’re selling.

  22. dragon
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    This isn’t from years ago obscure newsletter, it’s from yesterday on nation t.v.

    Despite recent accusations of racism and homophobia, Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) stuck to his libertarian principles on Sunday, criticizing the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it “undermine[d] the concept of liberty” and “destroyed the principle of private property and private choices.”

    “If you try to improve relationships by forcing and telling people what they can’t do, and you ignore and undermine the principles of liberty, then the government can come into our bedrooms,” Paul told Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And that’s exactly what has happened. Look at what’s happened with the PATRIOT Act. They can come into our houses, our bedrooms our businesses … And it was started back then.”

    You fema camp fucktards really are a bunch of lunatics.

  23. Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, he, like his son, believes that the government has no place telling business owners that they should have to serve blacks, gays, latinos, etc. That, according to Paul, is an affront to liberty… unlike bleeding to death outside a hospital that doesn’t serve black folks, which, I guess, is the epitome of liberty.

  24. Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    And I’m moving your comment over to the last Ron Paul thread, Dragon.

  25. Meta
    Posted January 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    From the Atlantic article “Why Do Liberals Keep Sanitizing the Obama Story?”

    When I pleaded with liberals to stop ignoring President Obama’s failures on civil liberties, foreign policy, and the separation of powers, treating them as if they didn’t even merit a mention, the quintessential example of the troubling phenomenon hadn’t yet been published. Now it has. In New York, one of America’s premier magazines, Jonathan Chait, a sharp, experienced political writer, has penned a 5,000 word essay purporting to defend the president’s first term. It is aimed at liberal critics who, in Chait’s telling, naively expected too much.

    Tellingly, as Chait writes for affluent urban liberals who railed against the Bush Administration’s excesses in the War on Terrorism, he neither desires nor feels compelled to grapple with President Obama’s approach to foreign policy, national security, or homeland security. The closest he comes in a piece overwhelmingly focused on domestic policy and political maneuvering is the breezy assertion that Obama “has enjoyed a string of foreign-policy successes — expanding targeted strikes against Al Qaeda (including one that killed Osama bin Laden), ending the war in Iraq, and helping to orchestrate an apparently successful international campaign to rescue Libyan dissidents and then topple a brutal kleptocratic regime.”

    Isn’t that something?

    Apparently it isn’t even worthy of mention that Obama’s actions in Libya violated the War Powers Resolution, the president’s own professed standards for what he can do without Congressional permission, and the legal advice provided to him by the Office of Legal Counsel.

    In Chait’s telling, expanded drone strikes in Pakistan are a clear success. Why even grapple with Jane Mayer’s meticulously researched article on the risks of an drone war run by the CIA, Glenn Greenwald’s polemics on the innocent civilians being killed, or Jeff Goldberg and Marc Ambinder’s reporting on the Pakistani generals who are moving lightly guarded nuclear weapons around the country in civilian trucks as a direct consequence of the cathartic bin Laden raid.

    Chait mentions the Iraq withdrawal, but doesn’t point out that Obama sought to violate his campaign promise, and would’ve kept American troops in the country beyond 2011 had the Iraqis allowed it; that as it is, he’ll leave behind a huge State Department presence with a private security army; and that he’s expanding America’s presence elsewhere in the Persian Gulf to make up for the troops no longer in Iraq. Is any of that possibly relevant to a liberal’s assessment?

    Perhaps most egregiously, Chait doesn’t even allude to Obama’s practice of putting American citizens on a secret kill list without any due process, or even consistent, transparent standards.

    Nor does he grapple with warrantless spying on American citizens, Obama’s escalation of the war on whistleblowers, his serial invocation of the state secrets privilege, the Orwellian turn airport security has taken, the record-breaking number of deportations over which Obama presided, or his broken promise to lay off medical marijuana in states where dispensing it is legal.

    The rest of the article:

  26. dragon
    Posted January 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Wow Meta, you’ve sunk to using Conor Fucking Friedersdorf to speak for you now?

    Do you agree with this article. I know you’re mostly a spambot over here but this blog just like every other liberal blog has done other that point out Obama’s failings. But you searched valiantly and found a conservative writer who searched valianly for a liberal writer who didn’t sufficiently deride Obama. And that’s you’re argument. Again, wow. How soon until you start spamming Limbaugh transcripts?

  27. Meta
    Posted January 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I found it to be interesting, and thought that others would as well.

  28. Posted January 7, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    EOS: ““Signing statements” have no constitutional authority.”

    Apparently the Constitution has no authority either, so I don’t know what difference any of it makes any more.

  29. Thom Elliott
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Apart from the inevitability of a 2nd Obama admin and the moronic wrangleing over the inevitable (as if it were possible an unknown 3rd party or one of the dopiest collection of unelectable assholes ever assembled outside a mad tea party would get in) it is just amazing to me what people out there think would be viable. It is true, the american people have no memory, it must be a product of our ‘strange addiction’ to eating unbelieveably salty plastic, breathing mercury vapor by the tonnage from concrete creation, and letting our chemical industry turn our water to ricin. Anyone who thinks Ron Paul is some kind of saviour for our polity should have his head examined.

  30. Edward
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    It is true, the american people have no memory, it must be a product of our ‘strange addiction’ to eating unbelieveably salty plastic, breathing mercury vapor by the tonnage from concrete creation, and letting our chemical industry turn our water to ricin.

    What a great way to wake up on a Saturday morning. Thank you, Thom.

  31. TaterSalad
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Mark………next time you get a boner and want to post something on your belowved progressive, Elizabeth Warren how about slipping in this article to this fine hypocrte that all you liberal loons bow to!

  32. Thom Elliott
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    “…fine hypocrite all you liberal loons bow to!” Who speaks this way? I wish I could see what kind of slovenly prefab home you pollute websites from; empty mountain dew 2 liters choking the entirely neglected kitchenette, the mustard colored ichor forming on the plastic windows from countless ‘smoker’s choice’ cheap brown paper miniature cigars, the stench of unwashed clothes piled and left to mildew behind the door in the space you keep your soiled mattress where many a drunken night losing control of your bladder/bowel. Am I close?

  33. anonymous
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    While we’re waiting for Taters to respond, here’s some video of some folks being arrested in New York for protesting the NDAA.

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