I get that John McCain would author a bill that would allow everyday US citizens to be indefinitely detained by the military and held without charge. But Senator Carl Levin? Et tu?
Apparently. The two authored the Levin/McCain bill, aka Section 1031 of the National Defense Authorization Act … Actually, as the ACLU reports:
The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday. The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.
The entire text of S. 1867 – the National Defense Authorization Bill is found here; the section dealing with the indefinite detention we’re talking about is found beginning on page 359.
Enter Sen. Mark Udal of Coloradol, who introduced the Udall Amendment, which
would have replaced the rules with a call for US military and intelligence officials to study the plan and offer their own blueprint for how to interrogate and detain alleged extremists. (via Raw Story).
Unfortunately, 15 Democrats in the Senate plus Joe Lieberman voted down the Udall Amendment proving that they either don’t understand or simply don’t care that they’re shredding the US constitution. Of course, all but two Republicans (Rand Paul and Mark Kirk) voted against it.
I’m not surprised about the Republicans (the party name should go into the dictionary as the definition of hypocrisy). But I am deeply disturbed about the 16 Democrats who voted against it:
- Bad Nelson*
Marcy Wheeler put that list together, and added the asterisks to the names of the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who voted against the Udall Amendment. (Note: I wouldn’t have included Lieberman on a list of Democrats. Marcy did, likely because he caucuses with the Dems.)
Glenn Greenwald at Salon wrote the best analysis of this vote/situation that I’ve seen thus far in “Congress Endorsing Military Detention, a New AUMF”. I recommend reading the entire thing for a better understanding, but a few sections jumped out at me:
… the bill’s three most important provisions:
(1) mandates that all accused Terrorists be indefinitely imprisoned by the military rather than in the civilian court system; it alsounquestionably permits (but does not mandate) that even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil accused of Terrorism be held by the military rather than charged in the civilian court system (Sec. 1032);
(2) renews the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) with more expansive language: to allow force (and military detention) against not only those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and countries which harbored them, but also anyone who “substantially supports” Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces” (Sec. 1031); and,
(3) imposes new restrictions on the U.S. Government’s ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo (Secs. 1033-35).
President Obama’s possible veto of Levin/McCain
Most media discussions of Levin/McCain assert that President Obama has threatened to veto it. That is not quite true: the White House’s statementon this bill uses language short of a full-on veto threat: “the President’s senior advisers[will] recommend a veto.” Moreover, former Bush DOJ official Jack Goldsmith makes a persuasive (though not dispositive) case that it is unlikely that the President would veto this bill. Most likely, it seems to me, is that the veto threat will be used to extract concessions in order to have a bill that the President will sign.
Let’s be very clear, though, about what the “veto threat” is and is not. All things considered, I’m glad the White House is opposing this bill rather than supporting it. But, with a few exceptions, the objections raised by the White House are not grounded in substantive problems with these powers, but rather in the argument that such matters are for the Executive Branch, not the Congress, to decide. In other words, the White House’s objections are grounded in broad theories of Executive Power. They are not arguing: it is wrong to deny accused Terrorists a trial.Instead they insist: whether an accused Terrorist is put in military detention rather than civilian custody is for the President alone to decide. Over and over, the White House’s statement emphasizes Executive power as the basis for its objections to Levin/McCain:
Broadly speaking, the detention provisions in this billmicromanage the work of our experienced counterterrorism professionals, including our military commanders, intelligence professionals, seasoned counterterrorism prosecutors, or other operatives in the field. These professionals have successfully led a Government-wide effort to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents over two consecutive Administrations. The Administration believes strongly that it would be a mistake for Congress to overrule or limit the tactical flexibility of our Nation’s counterterrorism professionals.
Oy, Again… you really should read the whole thing.
On the show this morning, we talked about that story and much more with Howie Klein. In addition to blogging at DownWithTyranny.com, Howie oversees the Blue America PAC (along with Digby and John Amato)… Blue America typically works on House races, but also has a Senate page up to support a few very worth Senatorial candidates!
Among many other things I found on Howie’s blog this morning was this gem.. from the Ron Paul campaign!
And to close out the week, I talked with comedian John Fugelsang about the everything from the Levin/McCain bill, the GOP slate of candidates, President Obama to the Sexy Liberals Tour which comes to South Florida next weekend and last night’s Grammy nominations.
Listen anytime to the podcast… and we’ll be back Monday morning, Radio or Not!