Why the hell did Obama sign the indefinite detention bill?

Okay so I know we are all pissed. I’m even pissed and I normally give President Obama a huge benefit of the doubt.

President Obama signing the National Defense Authorization Agreement, or the NDAA, including provisions which do not prohibit the indefinite detention of American citizen “terror” suspects is wholly unacceptable.


Before we all become Ron Paul supporters over this it’s important to consider a few points about what the NDAA is and why the provisions about detention were included as policy riders (essentially as a poison pill) tacked on to the thousand page bill.

The NDAA is a must pass bill. It is the bill which literally funds the military. That includes paychecks for our military veterans. That includes paying for equipment and gear for our service members abroad. That includes funding our intelligence agencies and contractors which actually do a lot of important work to help protect us from actual terrorists.

This means that if Obama does not pass the NDAA then soldiers can’t eat.

So why didn’t Obama just veto the crap? Well, if he vetoes the bill, which was passed with enough votes to override that veto, it becomes law anyway. There is a very solid point to be made that he should have vetoed the bill to make the political point that the detention provisions were unconstitutional and unacceptable. That said, again troops need food. Their families need paychecks.

So what else was in the NDAA besides authorization for the Treasury Department to pay our soldiers and authoritarian language about indefinite detention? Glad you asked.

Also, included in the NDAA for the very first time were provisions to address the horrific problem of sexual assault in the military. The NDAA that was just signed included allowances for a servicewoman who is raped to transfer to a new base as to not be forced to live and see her rapist every day. Before this NDAA she was forced to live on the same base.

Lastly, two important points. In this situation I see Obama with two choices: veto that crap and have troop pay delayed and the bill passes anyway because of the veto override. OR, sign it and issue a signing statement assuring everyone that your administration isn’t going to go full dictatorship and start locking up everyone until the end of time (obviously, it’s not the Obama administration that is the cause for concern but how future administrations use this power). Obama chose the latter.

Secondly, the detention provisions in the bill are unconstitutional (any readers we have who are lawyers might want to chime in here) and will more likely than not be challenged in court. Things like the 4th, 5th, 6th, oh and the 8th Amendment come to mind? Even a conservative Roberts Court will take issue with these provisions.

The most important point of all here is that President Obama doesn’t make laws. Congress makes laws. So if you want better laws that don’t clearly violate the constitution and infringe on civil liberties, we need a better Congress that the one that just essentially blackmailed our Constitutional Law professor President to sign a bill you just know he didn’t want to.

So, go friggin’ vote in November.

Join the Conversation