The Pro Left Lies About The Defense Authorization Bill – Gives Cover To Republicans

There’s No Such Thing as an “Indefinite Detention Bill” and Other Pro Left Lies

by Milt Shook

One of the most galling things about the professional left is the number of times they lie to make a point. You can’t be a progressive and also lie to the people who read your stuff. As this blog notes time and time again, the truth has a liberal bias; Fox News needs to lie; we do not.

Case in point; the hysteria over what many pro and emo lefties refer to as the “Indefinite Detention Bill.” Even people I often admire are buying into the hysteria, and it’s become depressing.

First thing you should know is, there is NO SUCH THING as an “Indefinite Detention Bill.” The actual bill Obama first threatened to veto and has now agreed to sign is called the “National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012.” The part about the “indefinite detention” is actually a poison pill amendment Republicans inserted into the bill to portray any Democrat who votes against it or President Obama if he vetoes it as being “against our troops.” Republicans put it there, not Democrats or Obama.

Yet, who the hell do these supposed “liberals” go after? Not the people who put that crap into the bill in the first place, of course. They go after President Obama, who has command the military (which includes my son, who’s working hard trying to rebuild Afghanistan, by the way) and have little choice but to put up with such Amendments. How incredibly stupid is this? Did so many progressive really learn NOTHING from the 2010 elections?

Obama doesn’t have a line-item veto, so he can’t veto the “Indefinite Detention Bill” without vetoing the entire NDAA. Now, you may think that would be a good thing, but would it? It’s not just about the troops. What about all of those civilians who might lose their jobs for at least a month or two, while Obama and Congress, including teabaggers, who have declared defeating Obama as their main goal, worked out a new NDAA without that little amendment, assuming they could do so? What do you think canceling all those defense contracts for a month or two would do to the unemployment rate? How about six months? What would happen to all of those small towns that depend on the military bases and contractors to support their small businesses? Do you imagine the GOP might be a bit energized after the unemployment rate suddenly rises to 10%?

Those of you who claim “principle” when you discuss this need to stop. Many pros and emos claim Obama’s showing a “lack of principle” by signing this “Indefinite Detention Bill.” Forget the fact that you’re claiming a lack of principle when you’re lying to the public about a bill that doesn’t exist. You’re actually advocating for an action that could put millions of people out of work for a few months, and forcing our troops to lose their meager pay for a few months for… what, exactly? What are your “principles” when you advocate for that, in order to kill an amendment that will probably ultimately have zero effect on anyone, and might even die in the courts?

I don’t like this amendment any more than you do. But you know what? If he vetoes this bill to kill that amendment, and then causes the Republicans to win in 2012, they’re just going to pass the same bill, and allow President Gingrich/Romney/Perry to detain people at will, anyway, right?

See, this is how politics works, pro and emo lefties; elections have consequences. When our side trashed Obama and the Democrats mercilessly in 2009-10, we helped right wing Republicans win. Hell; after the 2010 election, pro and emo “progressives” were CROWING about having defeated “Blue Dog” Democrats, thus giving teabaggers most of those seats, giving the Speaker’s chair to a Boner, and handing committee chairs over to right wingers, who replaced the progressives that had been chairing those committees. Look, folks; when you help right wingers get elected, you don’t get to act shocked and sadden when they do exactly what they promised to do.

It’s not Obama’s fault he doesn’t have a line-item veto. The only way to veto this thing is to kill the entire bill. With Congress recessing today for about a month, that means the entire DOD and its contractors could go unfunded until late January or early February, if a deal could be worked out. That means a lot of contractors would have to fold up shop in the meantime. It could put some out of business altogether, but it could also mean millions out of work for at least a month or two. What about military people and contractors who are facing foreclosure; what would this do to them? It’s possible Congress might pass an emergency appropriation to cover this problem, but given the influence of the teabaggers, who in their right mind would count on something like that? In one year, they’ve damn near pushed through four government shutdowns.

If you think you’re adhering to “principle” by demanding Obama veto this thing, I’m afraid you don’t understand the concept of “principle” very well. Each individual “principle” doesn’t work in a vacuum; they all work together. This reminds me of those idiots who wanted to kill the entire health care bill because it didn’t include a “public option.” To deny 30 million people health insurance, and force those with insurance to continue to endure the restrictions on coverage, just because you didn’t get what you wanted is not “principled.” It’s the opposite.

The “Indefinite Detention Bill” will only potentially have a negative effect if a Republican wins in 2012, in any case. Obama probably won’t use it, except maybe to trigger a court challenge, which this amendment will probably fail, anyway. The Hamdan case alone would seem to indicate the president cannot have such power over US citizens, at least.

Here’s the language in section 1021 that has the pro lefties up in arms. It’s in the Conference Report. Follow along, please. Oddly (?), most pro left cite (1), but leave out (2)-(4). I know, that just seems so odd, doesn’t it?

(c) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR.—The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:

(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

(2) Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (title XVIII of Public Law 111– 84)).

(3) Transfer for trial by an alternative court or competent tribunal having lawful jurisdiction.

(4) Transfer to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.

Yes, I do admit section c) looks troubling, especially if you look at it all by itself. But as long as we have Obama (or Biden) in office, we have time to get rid of it, especially if we give them a Democratic Congress. But I would also note that the pro lefties also leave out sections b) d) and e). When you read them you’ll know why.

(b) COVERED PERSONS.—A covered person under this section is any person as follows:

(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.

(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.

(d) CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

(e) AUTHORITIES.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.


Yes, you read that right. The so-called  – the “Indefinite Detention Bill” that pro and emo lefties are trying to convince you will give the president the power to round us all up and detain us forever without a trial, not only doesn’t exist on its own, but the language is somewhat limiting, and specifically excludes US citizens or people who are in the United States legally. Section b) 2) does bother me, but I don’t think it’ll survive a court challenge because it’s too broad. What the hell is a “belligerent act,” for example? I once called a US Senator an asshole to his face; that was kind of belligerent.

I will note, for the record, that the provision does fly in the face of the 14th Amendment, and I don’t like it. But I don’t see anything in it that isn’t reversible, and certainly nothing that’s worth putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work for, just as we’re recovering from the worst recession in 80 years.

AND I BLAME CONGRESS FOR THIS, NOT OBAMA. They put it there, not him. In fact, if Democrats were still in charge, this entire discussion probably wouldn’t be happening. Blaming this on Obama is kind of like blaming the company who put the olives in the jar because you didn’t chew your olive responsibly. Just saying.

In order to kill the above provisions, Obama has to kill the entire bill. That would be a politically stupid thing to do, and anyone with any common sense would understand that. The best way to handle this is to keep this provision in mind, give Obama a second term, and give him a Congress that will pass a repeal that he can sign. There you go; problem solved.

I’ll end this with a short critique of our “friend” Glenn Greenwald’s Salon post entitled “Three myths about the detention bill.” In it, he lies like a rug. Here are the most blatant lies:

Lie #1. There is no such thing as an “Indefinite Detention Bill”. To imply there is means you’re also implying that Obama can veto this bill without killing the entire NDAA. He can’t.

Lie #2. Obama did not announce his intention to sign the “Indefinite Detention Bill” and for Greenwald to claim it’s “embedded” in the 2012 NDAA is an obfuscation, if not an outright falsehood, because it implies a possibility for him to veto just that “bill.”

Lie #3. “Until the end of the hostilities” does not necessarily mean “indefinite detention.” It’s entirely possible, even likely, that Obama will declare an end to al Qaeda within the next year, and he has already all but declared an end to hostilities against the Taliban. In fact, if we oversee an election of Democrats in 2012, and they declare both “wars” at an end, guess what happens?

(Note; that does not mean I want this part of the bill to survive. I want to see it repealed, which will happen if assholes like Greenwald start going after the perpetrators of this nonsense, and stop attacking Obama and Democrats incessantly. I’m just saying, there are other ways around it, and to declare such a thing as essentially “true” is a lie.)

Lie #4. As you can see when you read both d) and e) in section 1021 above, the “bill” does NOT expand the scope of the AUMF, and explicitly does NOT expand it.

Lie #5. The “bill” DOES explicitly exempt US citizens from its provisions. Strangely, Greenwald cites Section 1022 as proving his point. Here’s the language:


(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS.—The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.

(2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS.—The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.

Strangely, Greenwald highlights certain sections of this in his article, and then inexplicably says the following (bold in original):

The only provision from which U.S. citizens are exempted here is the“requirement” of military detention. For foreign nationals accused of being members of Al Qaeda, military detention is mandatory; for U.S. citizens, it is optionalThis section does not exempt U.S citizens from the presidential power of military detention: only from the requirement of military detention.

Except for one problem; Section 1021, which explicitly forbids detention of US citizens and resident aliens. He’s counting on us all reading each separate section as if it operates on its own, which is not the case.

Look, folks, I don’t like this section of the bill much more than Greenwald does. On its face, without lying, it’s odious, especially if Obama is replaced by anyone in the current Republican field. The problem is, the bullshit braying being screeched by professional lefties like Glenn Greenwald actually helps make the possibility of a Republican president and a Republican Senate greater, not less likely. If you really want crap like this amendment repealed, you’ll need a Democratic House and Senate and a Democratic president. You’ll also need a Supreme Court appointed and approved by Democrats, because an entire court full of Scalia/Thomas/Alito clones will happily give a Republican president this power.

The only thing I ask of any actual progressive is that they tell the truth, and place the blame where it belongs.

Obama didn’t place this odious amendment into the bill; Republicans did, even if they didn’t place the exact language into the bill, they created the impetus for including crap like this in an irrelevant bill in the first place. Go after them!

Stop lying, and go after those who are actually responsible. For a change.


7 thoughts on “The Pro Left Lies About The Defense Authorization Bill – Gives Cover To Republicans

  1. I do blame the Republicans for this, I just wish Obama wasn’t buckling under to them. And I’m not a pro leftie of any kind, I’m just frightened :( I really don’t know that the employment rate is more important than this.

    As far as the veto not being politically smart…I’m hearing from many people who were going to vote for Obama’s re-election who now aren’t so sure. Signing this bill might endanger his chances in 2012 more than vetoing it.

  2. I’ve heard some say that if he doesn’t sign it, the number of jobs it will kill will raise the unemployment rate up over 10%. That wouldn’t go over well with anyone in 2012.

  3. Keep in mind that I’m really hoping you’re correct about this one. I’ve supported Obama throughout and want to keep supporting him, but there’s a lot of really scary stuff floating around about this bill.

  4. You and I disagree about what this means. A fair reading of what was enacted does allow indefinite military detention, as I read it. A veto of this bill would have been a good idea, in my view. My I make a further suggestion? Your claims that others are “lying” comes out way, way too shrilly. People can disagree without calling each other liars.

  5. Given the lessons of history in general, and of this Presidency in particular, I think you’re being far too sanguine about the chances of Obama (or a Democratic Congress) “getting rid” of this odious piece of work, after the next elections. It’s a very rare thing for an administration to give up power, once it’s been given- see the “Patriot Act”, for example.
    I might point out, as well, that President Obama is already killing American Citizens who have been deemed “Terrorists”, which strikes me as instructive, given your hope that he will, somehow, decide to interpret the language in such a way as to shield us from mere imprisonment.
    Finally, I note that you give the President a “by”, because it would have been bad politics in an election year for him to have refused to sign it. Maybe this requires no comment, but, speaking for myself, if the man I helped elect had gone on TV and told the nation that he was refusing to sign this bill because it undermined the Constitution he swore to defend to an intolerable degree, and that he needed us to rally to his side and turn out the people who brought it into being, I, for one, would have cheered him from the rooftops, and then I would have started looking for ways I could help support my neighbors and friends, until their income was restored. Together, we would have gotten through it, and we would have been stronger for the common experience.
    Obama, however, is not the man for this, or any, fight. Whether it’s timidity or just a lack of competence, he has been, and continues to be, a sickening disappointment after our high hopes. I’ll vote for him again, yes, but it will be the same, old thing: the alternatives are so much worse- and that’s, maybe, the saddest thing of all.

  6. Why doesn’t Obama show some leadership on this bill the way he has with the payroll tax extension and call out the Republicans for putting this poison pill amendment into the act even though they know how important passing this bill is to the economy. The payroll tax cut is the 1st thing Obama and the Democrats have done right from a P.R and political standpoint since Obama was elected.
    If the Repubs can come up with worse case scenarios such as death panels to counter healthcare I am sure Obama and the Democrats can use their imaginations to come up with worse case scenarios involving the indefinite detention of American citizens in order to crystallize the dangers the Republicans pose to the liberties of Americans. With the proper use of the bully pulpit Obama could have the republicans doing another 180 just like they have decided to do with the payroll tax cut extensions, possibly leading to another bump in the polls for Obama. but it appears that he lacks the leadership ability to try and has instead decided to cave into the Republicans, yet again, even at a time when the Republican party is practically imploding in on itself due to incompetence.
    By the way coming up with worse case scenarios for the repercussions of legislation may be considered exaggeration but it is hard to call it a lie, as the old saying goes expect the worst and hope for the best. I think and hope you are right about the courts finding the most offending parts of the bill unconstitutional, if they were to ever actually be used in practice, but my expectations are not so rosy, especially after the patriot act, due to seeing a legislative pattern analogous to a frog that doesn’t jump out of boiling water because the temperature is being raised so gradually.

  7. The Republicans are all over TV lamenting Obama’s lack of “leadership” which is evidently the GOP talking point du jour. Rep. Jack Kingston(R-GA) wants the President to invite Boehner and Cantor to the White House, serve them some Christmas punch or egg nog and break out a video of “It’s A Wonderful Life“! (like last summer’s golf outing with Boehner was so successful) The Republicans keep saying that they are the ones who want to extend the payroll tax cuts for a year instead of 60 days (with barbs for Harry Reid). However, even the talking heads on MSNBC don’t call them out there their bill that also includes cuts in unemployment pay, a 27% cut in Medicare payments to doctors (meaning many will just not take senior patients or cut back in care), even the Keystone pipeline. Nothing coming from the Republicans is clean without containing all kinds of “hostage” add ons.

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