04 January 2012

President Signs Defense Bill (With Reservations)

Reposted from Jobsanger

President Obama has signed the new Defense Authorization Bill into law. Frankly, I find that very disappointing. I wish he had vetoed the bill and sent it back to Congress. I don't say that because the bill contains far too much military spending, although I believe that is true. I say it because of a provision which would allow the indefinite detaining of an American citizen in a military prison without a trial -- as long as the government labeled that person as a "terrorist". And applying such a label to a person is very easy, especially since it would not have to be proven in a court of law.

That provision in the bill also made the president uncomfortable. He said:

The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.

But he went on to assure Americans that he would not use the provision against American citizens, saying:

I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation. My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.

I believe the president. I don't believe he wants to destroy the constitutional rule of law that has been established in this country -- a rule of law that protects American citizens against their own government (and for freedom to exist, there must be established limits beyond which government cannot go, because even a democratically-elected government can go to far in denying rights if there are no established limits).

But President Obama is not going to be president forever, and who's to say that the person who inhabits the White House next (or down the road a way) will have the same respect for the Constitution and rule of law that President Obama has. Is there any doubt that the Bush/Cheney administration would have jumped on the opportunity to abuse such a provision, even against American citizens? How can we know that such an administration will not be elected in the future (especially after viewing the caliber of Republican presidential hopefuls)?

This was a bad bill that never should have passed Congress or been signed into law, but it has been. All we can hope for now is to elect better men and women to Congress -- people who respect the Constitution and will overturn this ridiculous new provision of law.

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