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30 responses to “ACLU statement on Obama’s signing of NDAA”

  1. Mercurius

    USA to World: Bags EVERYTHING, tip no returns. News at 11.

    I find it difficult to sustain an attack of the vapours over this. All the Americans have done is finally make explicit what has been their de-facto policy since the beginning of the Cold War.

    In terms of policy goals and intentions, I call this a victory for transparency…

    Still, given the trend-line power trajectory of the USA, this looks little bit less like the “Resistance is Useless” strike-fear-into-the-hearts-of-our-enemies proclamation it is intended to be, and a little bit more like North Korea issuing a policy of “eternal death to all our enemies”.

    It`s political sabre-rattling to impress the indoctrinated at home, and cause mild consternation abroad.

    tl;dr – USA declares “All your bodies are belong to us!”

  2. alfred venison

    dear editor
    its an obamanation! seriously though, obama’s now well past certified class traitor in my books. my one remaining question is, did he turn towards the dark side only after his election, or was he a fifth columnist from the start? these are troubling times, indeed; wonder what the i-ching would say?
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  3. Paul Hennessey

    The Supreme Court – especially the Roberts Court – is not going to side with the ACLU.
    Oh, Obama, you started with such promise!

  4. Mindy

    I wonder what, if anything, this could mean for Assange?

  5. akn

    Mindy, Assange is in the cross hairs. 2012 will be a big year for him if he’s returned to the US via Swedish air space!

  6. Andy Levinson

    Now you know why our country’s forefathers put the Second Amendment into the Constitution

    …for a sad day like today, when the president with one stroke of the pen…erases of our constitutional rights…

    …well, they have themselves a dictatorship….now let them try to hold on to it

  7. Huggybunny

    Mindy, I guess it means that whatever they do to Assange will be “legal”.
    No way will Assange see an open court, he will be tried in secret or he will be made dead.

  8. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    The way I see it – the situation is appalling on so many levels. There’s no “Indefinite Detention Bill”. There’s H.R. 1540, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012” – all 1441 pages of it, with only section 1021 containing the Infinite Defense provisions.

    I believe this is one of those American “Omnibus” bills, where every congressmen and senator gets to shove their favourite hobbyhorse, obsession and rort on the increasingly large and steaming pile of legislative bullshit. The problem is that there’s probably good stuff in there as well, such as authorising servicepeople to keep getting paid (and their kids and spouses as well). You can’t have army children starving.

    I’ll add one more thing: the president doesn’t have the power to introduce and amend bill like our PMs do, and line item veto don’t exist. It’s either yes or no – up or down. So folk, what would you do? Because I don’t know myself what I would do in the situation.

    You can read what Obama actually said.

  9. Link

    For once Mercurius we concur. Although perhaps you’re changing your mind as I type. It’s very hard to know what to make of this if I’m wrong to be verging on the sunny side–i.e, this is just sabre rattling in the face of something of an ignominious retreat from Iraq, as not quite, victorious? An unusual way to end a war for the U.S

    It’s really hard to believe Mr venison, that Obama has turned. He seems so nice. . . don’t suppose it had anything to do with deal struck or a bunch of republicans holding a gun, real or symbolic to his head or something?

  10. andyc

    Alfred V @ 2: I suspect that Obama has been, alas, an almost helpless puppet of a large totalitarian machine, right from the outset. I suspect that no presidential candidate can get through the primaries without swearing their allegiance to the Military-Industrial-Media Complex.

    Mindy @ 4: I would see this move as an explicit threat that Julian will be disappeared as soon as it can be arranged.

  11. John D

    Obama, like Rudd, had a mandate when elected but didn’t have the numbers to force legislation through the Senate. After tyhe mid term elections the mandate was gone and the numbers much worse. To make matters worse, unlike normal US practice, the Republicans started acting like a disciplined party and, like Abbott, set out to make the country ungovernable and adopted the “my way or no way” approach. Worse still, the Republicans were taken over by the raving nutters from the Tea Party.

    Under these circumstances rabbiting on about Obama’s failure to force through a progressive program is pure waffle. It also ignores the politics of the situation. Obama has to behave in a way that allows him to argue that the Republicans are doing enormous damage to the US and simply can’t be trusted to be in a position where they can block urgent action, protect the rich from tax increases in the midst of a budget deficit crisis etc.

    My take on Obama is that he is a subtle operator who has to put up with a simple minded media who wanted unsubtle aggression to sell their papers. I think that Obama is turning the tide against the crazy right, will win the presidential election and may well get the majorities in congress and the senate that will allow him to implement things that badly need to be done.

  12. Huggybunny

    JohnD, I hope your last paragraph is an accurate prediction.
    I see an empire that is tearing itself apart; that is determined to ignite a global conflagration so that it can go out in style.
    Can Obama do much to curb the manifest insanity that afflicts the US politicians and the the unbridled greed of the 1 %?

  13. PeterTB

    “he will be tried in secret or he will be made dead”

    …and the Chinese will reduce their CO2 output, and renewable energy will become viable, and world politics is controlled by a VRWC.

    Onya Huggy – Happy New Year to you

  14. Katz

    DAOIS describes the predicament of Obama very well.

    These GOP-sponsored omnibus bills threaten to lock the wheels of government if they are not passed. Obama has little choice but to hold his nose while signing the Bill into law.

    I guess the same threat of blackmail induced the Senate, which has a Democrat majority, to pass a bill broadly compatible with the House bill. But the interesting feature of this episode is that the Senate Democrats declined to protect Obama from this embarrassment.

    Democrats are knuckling under to a dangerous form of extremism.

  15. Chris

    andyc @ 10 – I don’t think Assange will be disappeared – he has way too high a profile for that too happen. But as mentioned previously it will make his transfer via Sweden legal. Hopefully he has a few more legal moves up his sleeve to resist extradition.

  16. Mercurius

    @9, @11, yup and yup.

    Extraterritoriality is nothing new in American foreign policy. They’ve been acting for decades as though this law was existence – whether de jure or de facto, this is the way it’s been since the end of WWII. There’s been extraordinary renditions, constant interference in Central and South American state affairs, and overseas adventurism throughout East and Southeast Asia and the Middle East. This is what empires do.

  17. John D

    Huggy: I hope that my last paragraph. However, this gives you some idea of the sort of obstructive crap that Obama is up against.

    In the 19th century, the theory of nullification, and the crisis it provoked, was all about states’ rights. Nullification advocates argued that the constitution was a compact between sovereign states, and therefore states could choose to ignore federal laws that they considered unconstitutional.

    The Civil War largely put an end to this clash, but in the 21st century there’s a new theory of nullification. This one, though, isn’t about a conflict between states and the federal government. It’s about a conflict within the federal government. There isn’t yet any modern-day John Calhoun to articulate this new theory of nullification in detail, but the nickel version is pretty simple: it says that a single senator can nullify a duly passed statute of the United States.

    In one sense, this is just the latest front in the Republican war against executive branch nominees of the Obama administration. But until now, that war has been merely an escalation: more nominees are being filibustered than ever before, creating logjams in the federal court system and a shortage of leadership in the executive branch. It’s a big problem, but nothing has actually been shut down because of it.

    That’s now changing. Republicans are refusing to allow votes on President Obama’s nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and on his nominees to fill vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board. In both cases, the Republican refusal is explicity aimed at shutting down these agencies. In the case of the CFPB, it’s because the law that created it gives certain powers to its director, and without a director those powers can’t be exercised. In the case of the NLRB, it’s because they can’t function at all unless a minimum of three out of five seats are filled. When Craig Becker, already a recess appointment because of a Republican filibuster last year, finishes his term at the end of 2011, only two seats will remain filled and the NLRB will grind to a halt…..

    It all sounds a bit like a Tony Abbott wet dream. Problem for the US is it (and a load of similar powers to obstruct) is the current reality. The US won’t fall to some foreign attack. It is the filibuster rules they really need to fear.

  18. Joe

    Having an opinion about this as a single issue isn’t as important as thinking about how the political system in the US works.

    If Katz is correct and this is about embarrassment (in particular embarrassing the president), which shouldn’t be underestimated and which has a long tradition in human relationships and politics, healthy and sustainable political systems also have to come up with consistent policy positions for the people that they represent (which is mostly also self referential as they are the people they represent.) US politics does not seem to be able to do this at the moment. It appears increasingly to be corrupt and ineffective and its hard to see how the decisions which are being made in the US are going to solve the nations problems.

    It seems to me that at a high level of abstraction there are a couple of problems. Business is starting to be a force which is limiting scientific development (not to mention distortions in other areas). There aren’t enough jobs for good people, which is one of the main factors stimulating corruption as its causing a situation where not enough people who deserve to be in leadership positions are getting them, due to the positions being inherited to the current leaders’ favorite. This is a situation which you can see in many other parts of the world and which, to some extent is normal, but its too conservative to be able to deal with a quickly changing environment.

    It’s amazing to me that China is pushing on with a comparatively ambitious space program with relatively less resources, while the US is stagnating.

  19. tssk

    And here we have it.

    If you are a left wing American you have only two choices.

    1. Hold your nose and vote Republican as a protest vote. Despite knowing that the Republicans would do the same thing or worse, at least they won’t lie to your face about it.

    2. Abstain from voting. This has the same effect as point 1.

    Voting for Obama after this would just make the current model worse, where you have to vote people in who will act counterr to your interests in the vain vain hope that they will maybe pass something left wing.

    Damn it 2012 and left wing politics in the US is already dead on day 1.

  20. jumpy

    There will be NO Guantanamo Bay facility under the government I lead.


    “””It’s really hard to believe Mr venison, that Obama has turned. He seems so nice. . . don’t suppose it had anything to do with deal struck or a bunch of republicans holding a gun, real or symbolic to his head or something?”””

    Now what does that remind me of…..hmm..

  21. Lefty E

    Yeats says it all:

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  22. Josh

    How could any Supreme Court, no matter how partisan, hold up a law that so CLEARLY violates habeus corpus? The most fundamental of our Constitutional rights is being torn up and tossed into the trash. They now have the right to put anyone at all into permanent uncontestable detention. How is this any different from Soviet style Siberian gulags? I see no appreciable difference except for the difference in leadership presently.
    Politicians always vote themselves more power, saying to themselves, “we control this law, we will use it wisely.” Then another batch of politicians come along and abuse that same law until someone does something.
    I agree with the above poster, this is why we have the 2nd Ammendment. If the Japanese were wary of invading the US when they had a clear opportunity (after Pearl Harbor wiped out the Pacific fleet), our government should be twice as wary of pissing off its citizens. If you only look at hunting permits issued for one year, in only three states (WI, MI, and PN), you have more than 3 million armed militia, the largest army in the world. And the US government has no control over it.

  23. Katz

    Josh @22, those militia you mention are highly likely to support the Republican Right that ramrodded this Bill to the Oval Office.

    In other words, those guns are in the service of tyranny. Don’t expect many of them to defend the abstract rights of accused Islamist jihadis.

    Where are the civil libertarian militia?

    Answer: potential members of such militia continue to believe, against accumulating evidence, that the rule of law is their best preserve.

  24. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Hark at all these 2nd amendment promoters. It isn’t even good for what it’s meant to do: protect the citizenry against the government. Because governments have lots of methods to put down insurgencies. Not all involve winning battles, which is what 2nd amendment supporters invariably think.

    Look at Lord Kitchener. He had to deal with a guerilla war against the Boers, most of whom were crack shots. So what did he do? Lock their wives and children in concentration camps. 30,000 of them died. The Boers, understandably demoralised, surrendered.

    Was it evil? Of course it was evil; it was also successful. And any government who’s going to “take arms against their citizenry” is also evil. My problem with 2nd amendment is that they all seem to assume that evil governments will also “play fair” and go in shooting, so that the citizens can use their arms in response – just like a medieval joust except with M16s. But governments are not gentlemen. They’re sneaky and underhanded, cads and bounders. They might even try to buy off the opposition with dishonourable tactics like “land reform” and “government-subsidised free health care”. The bastards.

  25. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    At this point, I think the US has more pressing problems than indefinite detention. You’ve probably all seen this Calculated Risk “Percent Job Losses relative to Peak Employment Month” graph: I just pass along the latest iteration. And what do I see? Firstly, the Bush II-Obama recession is about to become the longest one after WW II. Secondly, it’s the worse by far. Thirdly, it takes about 10 months for the unemployment rate to reduce by 1%. We’re looking at 2016 or 2017 for it to be over in the States.

  26. Huggybunny

    Nullification, carried to the point where the union is dissolved will be very good for the rest of the world. Then the states can fight amongst themselves, then we will see how these militia perform. Why they could even nuke each other. The ROW will not give a toss. A new civil war in the “US” now that would be the best thing for global peace ever.
    Seriously, if they continue on the present trajectory the above scenario becomes a distinct possibility. Are the 1% so dumb that they cannot realise that their income stream will be seriously threatened, or are they already bunkered down in NZ?

  27. Katz

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for nullification, Huggy.

  28. Joe

    In the local (not the financial times) this morning there was an overview of the performance of different international stock indexes for 2011:

    Canada: -11.4%
    FTSE100: -5.55%
    DAX: -14.69%
    RTS (Rus.): -21.94%
    Nasdaq: -1.68%
    Dow Jones: +5.58%
    EurStoxx50: -8.39%
    Euro St. 50 : -17.05%
    CAC (F): -16.95%
    Bovespa (B): -18.11%
    Nikkei: -17.34%
    Hang Seng: -19.97%

    Dow Jones is an absolute outlier!! Closely followed by the FTSE (Ignoring Nasdaq). But what does this mean? I say bullsh!t. This is a reflection of how much bovine-dung these institutions are peddling. These institutions aren’t casinos they’re shake-downs and we’ve put them at the center of our societies!

  29. GregA

    After Nixon, the Presidency lost considerable prestige, but also much power. Reagan managed to restore, in many minds, in the U.S., at least, a considerable amount of prestige, which Clinton managed to capitalise on, at least until the Lewinsky sideshow took the centre ring. The terrorist attacks and Gulf War II nevertheless allowed a President who would have been a nonentity to abrogate power back to the Presidency, something all of them would have liked to have done, except maybe Ford, but couldn’t quite. To expect Obama to give any of that up was always only ever foolish, deluded. That he hasn’t been able to do much with it is only because the power GWB consolidated to his office was the power to do wrong, to harm others. If he was only as venial as Bush, we’d have seen much worse from him than the little he has actually done. Only the Supreme Court can undo what’s been done, really, and they won’t, because of Thomas, Alito, and Roberts. Perhaps especially Thomas, who is, when he isn’t asleep at the wheel, a corrupt, cancerous ulcer on the Judiciary. And maybe when he’s asleep, too.

  30. Nick Ferrett

    You all seem to be accepting the press reports as true when a careful reading of the relevant statutory provision demonstrates that this is a beat up. As Down and Out of Sài Gòn identifies at 8, the relevant section of the Act is section 1021. It does nothing at all to extend executive power. In fact, it expressly says that it doesn’t at s 1021(e):

    (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.

    The only open door that it leaves is that US citizens may now, on one reading, be arrested outside the US and held without trial if they are caught furthering the cause of the enemy.