The National Defense Authorization Act that was passed Thursday by the Senate includes a section about possible military’s power to detain Americans suspected in terrorism indefinitely without trial.
In November the White House spoke about the possibility of putting a veto, explaining that the detainee provisions could restrict the ability of law enforcement to fight terrorism and “make the job of preventing terrorist attacks more difficult.”
In a statement, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor repeated about the possibility of a presidential veto of the sweeping $662 billion defense bill that includes the far-reaching policy changes on how to handle suspected terrorists. By the way, the Senate voted 93-7 Thursday for the legislation.
Vietor admitted that the provisions could restrict the president’s authority in the fight against al-Qaida and endanger national security.
“By ignoring these non-partisan recommendations, including the recommendations of the secretary of defense, the director of the FBI, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general, the Senate has engaged in political micromanagement at the expense of sensible national security policy,” the spokesman said.
“Republican and Democratic administrations … have said that the language in this bill would jeopardize our national security by restricting flexibility in our fight against al Qaeda,” Jay Carney, a spokersman, said Friday.
“By ignoring these nonpartisan recommendations – including the recommendations of the secretary of defense, the director of the FBI, the director of national Intelligence and the attorney general – the Senate has unfortunately engaged in a little political micromanagement at the expense of sensible national security policies.”
“So our position has not changed,” Carney added. “Any bill that challenges or constrains the president’s critical authorities to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists and protect the nation would prompt his senior advisers to recommend a veto.”
A former Bush administration official, John Bellinger, agreed with Jay Carney.
“I sympathize with what the sponsors are trying to do,” he said. “But these provisions go far beyond anything the Bush administration either did, or would have tolerated.Those are the kind of micromanagement of the president’s military and law enforcement authority that the Bush administration opposed adamantly … particularly when it came to prosecuting the war with al Qaeda.”
The bill would make it difficult for the administration to move detainees to foreign countries.
Moreover, the bill would provide money for military personnel, weapons systems, national security programs in the Energy Department, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that began Oct. 1. The Senate bill is $27 billion less than President Barack Obama requested and $43 billion less than Congress gave the Pentagon this year.
“The bill is an historic threat to American citizens and others because it expands and makes permanent the authority of the president to order the military to imprison without charge or trial American citizens,” said Christopher Anders, ACLU senior legislative counsel.
The bill caused political dispute over the way of treating suspected terrorists: as prisoners of war or as criminals. The administration insists that the military, law enforcement and intelligence agents need flexibility in prosecuting the war on terror after they’ve succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki.
Republicans ensure their efforts are necessary to respond to post-Sept. 11 threat, and that Obama has failed to produce a consistent policy on handling terror suspects. [Via Huff Post and The Associated Press]