I stopped paying attention to the news, and missed this:
The White House is signing off on a controversial new law that would authorize the U.S. military to arrest and indefinitely detain alleged al Qaeda members or other terrorist operatives captured on American soil.
As the bill neared final passage in the House of Representatives and the Senate on Wednesday, the Obama administration announced it would support passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains slightly watered-down provisions giving the military a front line role in domestic terrorism cases.
The “watered-down” bits don’t have anything to do with protecting the rights of citizens under the Constitution. No, they just ensure that the President has “the immediate power to issue a waiver of the military custody requirement, instead of the Defense Secretary, and gives the President discretion in implementing these new provisions.”
Oh, good. As long as it’s the president himself who has the power to violate our civil rights, I think we’ll all sleep better at night.
Only my Facebook friends know how alarmed I was when this act passed the house and senate, but I hoped the White House might still derail it. Obama had promised to veto the act, on what I thought was some sort of principle rooted in our constitutional form of government. I was wrong. It was about making sure that if if any office was going to be accruing an excess of power, it would be the executive office. Think I’m twisting this? Here’s part of the White House statement on the subject.
As a result of these changes, we have concluded that the language does not challenge or constrain the president’s ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the American people, and the president’s senior advisors will not recommend a veto.
So much for hope and change and all that bilge water we got in the last campaign. I feel stupid for having believed Obama when he said, “We’re not a nation that locks people up without charging them.” Instead, this won the day: “If you’re an American citizen and you betray your country, you’re going to be held in military custody and you’re going to be questioned about what you know. And you’re not going to be given a lawyer if our national security interests dictate that you not be given a lawyer and go into the criminal justice system, because we’re not fighting a crime, we’re fighting a war.” (Sen. Lindsey Graham)
The Daily Show talked about this a couple of weeks ago, although I thought it was weak sauce compared to the outrage I’ve heard from John Stewart on some other subjects. Still, the clips are worth watching.
I’ll leave you with this, while I try to get back to Advent.