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Obama Drops Veto Threat, House Passes Defense Bill

Posted on Dec 14, 2011
AP / J. Scott Applewhite

FBI Director Robert Mueller expressed concerns about detainee provisions in the defense bill.

The House passed the controversial National Defense Authorization Act on Wednesday night, scarcely hours after President Obama caved to pressure from various factions in Congress and withdrew his veto threat.

Let’s consider some of the scary tactics that would be permitted if the measure is signed into law, primarily involving the treatment of suspected terrorists abroad and on U.S. soil. You know it’s bad when the head of the FBI is apparently more concerned than the majority of Congress about the potential damage to Americans’ civil liberties that this bill could inflict.  —KA

AP via USA Today:

Uncertainty was a major concern of FBI Director Robert Mueller, who expressed serious reservations about the detainee provisions.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mueller said a coordinated effort by the military, intelligence agencies and law enforcement has weakened al-Qaeda and captured or killed many of its leaders, including Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical Islamic cleric. He suggested that the divisive provision in the bipartisan defense bill would deny that flexibility and prove impractical.

“The statute lacks clarity with regard to what happens at the time of arrest. It lacks clarity with regard to what happens if we had a case in Lackawanna, N.Y., and an arrest has to be made there and there’s no military within several hundred miles,” Mueller said. “What happens if we have … a case that we’re investigating on three individuals, two of whom are American citizens and would not go to military custody and the third is not an American citizen and could go to military custody?”

Unnerving many conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, the legislation also would deny suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens seized within the nation’s borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention. House Republican leaders had to tamp down a small revolt among some rank-and-file who sought to delay a vote on the bill.

Some of the Republicans were concerned that the “president would use the military to round up American citizens,” said Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., a member of the Armed Services panel.

The escalating fight over whether to treat suspects as prisoners of war or criminals has divided Democrats and Republicans, the Pentagon and Congress.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, December 15, 2011 at 9:20 pm Link to this comment

No deux ex machina is going to get us out of the fire. Us or no one.

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By Maani, December 15, 2011 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment

Take a good look, people: this is the final nail in the coffin of posse comitatus.  God help us all.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, December 15, 2011 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment

Ron Paul will just let loose the dogs of extractionism to continue the drain of our wealth at a faster pace. Votes (in Congress) will still be bought and we will just find the Christian Reconstructionist ideas of killing off only the Humanist part of the gov’t while leaving the military industrial complex fully funded while you and I are reduced to slavery to them. And we can’t even be sure he would end the Drug War either. No thanks.

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Samson's avatar

By Samson, December 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm Link to this comment

At least now, one thing is perfectly clear.  We can’t
vote Democrat, and we can’t vote Republican (unless
Ron Paul somehow wins the Republican nomination). 
And with the occasional rare party-renegade
exceptions, the same is true for Representative,
Senator or Governor.  A vote for either is a vote for
the death of American freedom.  A vote for either is
a vote for endless Terror Wars.  A vote for either is
vote for a government of the bankers, by the bankers
and for the bankers.

They’ll be other names on the ballot.  Surely by now
its incredibly obvious that they are the only choices
for the pure survival of Americans who aren’t bankers
and/or murderous/killing/torturing gangster-thugs.

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By objective observer, December 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


it will be those “ignorant rednecks” who have acually taken the time to learn and train to defend themselves that will quite possible save your bacon after the coming civil conflict starts. those “ignorant rednecks” that you are so afraid of will not sit by or start some silly “occupy” nonsense, but will use the tools and skills to defend themselves their families/friends and possibly you. 

don’t discount the many who have returned from conflict overseas and the police officers that are part of the “oathkeepers” movement, that will not turn against American citizens.  why don’t you stop cackling and learn some skills, join with a group for preparation of what is coming, instead of spouting off and making fun of those who are preparing? or is that too hard and it’s easier to camp out in some city park and “march” around?

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By Brandt Hardin, December 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The NDAA if passed will only go to further stifle our
Constitutional Rights without the approval of the
Americans, just as the Patriot Act was adopted
WITHOUT public approval or vote just weeks after the
events of 9/11.  A mere 3 criminal charges of
terrorism a year are attributed to this act, which is
mainly used for no-knock raids leading to drug-
related arrests without proper cause for search and
seizure.  The laws are simply a means to spy on our
own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents
without trial or a right to council.  You can read
much more about living in this Orwellian society of
fear and see my visual response to these measures on
my artist’s blog at

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By Michael Cavlan RN, December 15, 2011 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

Rocky Anderson for President Camapign
Quit complaining, quit throwing ideas like candidates who will not run against Obama (and ask yourself why they will not)

Start organizing

Rocky Anderson for president. Amy Goodman had him on Democracy Now. What more do you all need to know?

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By berniem, December 15, 2011 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

Dear America, SCREW YOU!!!!! The people of this nation are getting tired of the lies and fraud! It won’t be much longer before the bill comes due!

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By berniem, December 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

As the ignorant rednecks would say…“if you ain’t done nuthin’ wrong, what ya got to worry about?” Well just remember my benighted brethren, the 2nd amendment can be revoked just as easily as these other rights have just been and when they come for your precious guns go ahead and believe them when they tell you that “you got nothin’ to worry about sos you don’t need no guns, do ya?”

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By Night-Gaunt, December 15, 2011 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

“Specifically, the bill would require that the military take custody of a suspect deemed to be a member of al-Qaeda or its affiliates and who is involved in plotting or committing attacks on the United States. There is an exemption for U.S. citizens.

House and Senate negotiators added language that says nothing in the bill will affect “existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the FBI or any other domestic law enforcement agency” with regard to a captured suspect “regardless of whether such … person is held in military custody.”

The bill also says the president can waive the provision based on national security.

“While we remain concerned about the uncertainty that this law will create for our counterterrorism professionals, the most recent changes give the president additional discretion in determining how the law will be implemented, consistent with our values and the rule of law, which are at the heart of our country’s strength,” Carney said.

Uncertainty was a major concern of FBI Director Robert Mueller, who expressed serious reservations about the detainee provisions.”

Just another nail in the coffin of democracy an our Republic. Has been going on for decades to systematically reduce, replace and suppress our freedoms while the cabal of the ultra-wealthy and their minions like Reagan, Bushes, Clinton & Obama help them to hit us with shocks in order to break us down while they build up more money and power till one day our Republic will be nothing replaced by strong arms and a Libertarian police state.

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By Miko, December 15, 2011 at 8:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

He didn’t cave: his problem with the bill was that it
limited executive power very slightly (as opposed to
everyone else’s problem that it trampled on civil
liberties severely) and he threatened to veto it
unless they fixed the problem he saw.  In response,
Congress amended it so that it didn’t limit executive
power and then Obama said he’d sign it.

Just because the issues that Obama cares about aren’t
the issues that any other person on the Earth cares
about doesn’t mean that he isn’t getting exactly what
he wants.

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By Ben Gooch, December 15, 2011 at 8:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Draft Elizabeth Warren for presidential candidate at the demacratic national convention.

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thecrow's avatar

By thecrow, December 15, 2011 at 5:32 am Link to this comment

Looking forward, not back.

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kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, December 15, 2011 at 4:53 am Link to this comment

Blueokie is correct.  Obama only wanted to veto this legislation because it took the power of unlawful detainment out of his own personal hands and let Congress in on the game.

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By jaxparrothead, December 15, 2011 at 4:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Not sure why everyone is all up in arms about this
bill, it does nothing to change existing law.  Obama’s
veto threat was not about any supposed power to detain
U.S. citizens as armed combatants.  The Supreme Court
ruled on that years ago in the Hamdi v. Rumsfield case. 
His veto threat was over a provision that required the
military to take action in this type of case.  The
wording in the bill was changed and that threat was
lifted.  You people really should try and educate
yourself a little bit.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, December 15, 2011 at 3:55 am Link to this comment

Now to test the Constitutionality of it with the Supreme Court.

A bad day in the life of America.

Another fruit from the poisonous tree planted on 9/11.

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By Michael Cavlan RN, December 15, 2011 at 12:20 am Link to this comment

Obama never caved.

He lied. He never intended to oppose it. Of course Truthdig “journalists” will write a variety of articles explaining this away. This place is just about as bad as Rachel Maddow or Eddie Schultz on MSNBC. Or Bill O’Reilly on Faux News for that matter.

I only come here to read the Chris Hedged articles and point out the lies of the rest.

Progressive media my ass.

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Blueokie's avatar

By Blueokie, December 14, 2011 at 11:08 pm Link to this comment

Obamanation didn’t cave or flip. His first veto threat wasn’t based on any Constitutional, Civil Liberty, or Human Rights concerns, it was that he thought the original language of the bill would infringe on his personal power as the Executive.  Once the language was changed, at his request, he was more than happy to sign.  Something to keep in mind the next time his apologists cheer his channeling of T.R., or FDR, when it is clear it should actually be Dubya.

Like Clinton and Bush, he is undeserving of reelection.

Terrorism is a word with no definition that justifies anything.

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By Dr Bones, December 14, 2011 at 10:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If the Military came for his wife and children, he’d asked if he help pack their bags!  Is impeachment still off the table?

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By SharonMI, December 14, 2011 at 9:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Bamboozle and the old okey doke.” Truer words I’ve never heard from Obama.

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By beancube2010, December 14, 2011 at 9:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We all know what the result of Russian election will
be. We have no major threats that require expanding our
military. Cut!!! Veto this bill. We should cut pays to
military high ranks. They are getting paid like Wall St
CEOs right now. We can’t afford that.

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By Fearless, December 14, 2011 at 9:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What would you expect from the worst president in United States history?

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By John Stevens, December 14, 2011 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

He didn’t back down. He got what he wanted, more executive power. Remember, the White House’s problem with the provisions was that it gave the executive branch less “flexibility.” As soon as they got it, bye-bye veto.

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By gerard, December 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment

Gotta be the world’s fastest quick-change artist!

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kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, December 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

Why is it achingly familiar to hear the words ‘Obama caved.’

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, December 14, 2011 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment

Once again, the hollow man, Mr. O.

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