The White House has put out a statement expressing its disapproval of various bits of H.R.1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. Here’s the most interesting, if not the most adamant, objection:
“Detainee Matters: The Administration strongly objects to section 1034 which, in purporting to affirm the conflict, would effectively recharacterize its scope and would risk creating confusion regarding applicable standards. At a minimum, this is an issue that merits more extensive consideration before possible inclusion.”
And here’s Section 1034:
“Congress affirms that–
(1) the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad;
(2) the President has the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note);
(3) the current armed conflict includes nations, organization, and persons who–
(A) are part of, or are substantially supporting, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or
(B) have engaged in hostilities or have directly supported hostilities in aid of a nation, organization, or person described in subparagraph (A); and
(4) the President’s authority pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority to detain belligerents, including persons described in paragraph (3), until the termination of hostilities.”
This is language that would allow presidents to make war almost anytime anywhere. Obama’s disapproval raises some interesting questions:
Will the Democratic leadership whip hard against this language, and against the bill if it is left in? Has Obama told them to?
Will Obama veto the bill if it is passed including this biggest ever unconstitutional reshaping of government powers, a move he “strongly objects” to?
If he doesn’t veto it, will he signing statement it away? And if he does that, what will be the legal status of a piece of legislation that unconstitutionally gives congressional powers to the executive, a piece of unconstitutional legislation that has been unconstitutionally erased by a signing statement?
Will Libya and dozens of other current military operations be legal because signing statements are unconstitutional or illegal because Section 1034 is unconstitutional?
Does it matter, since the wars roll along regardless and impeachment is reserved for sex?
And, last but not least, if a member of the White House Press Corpse ever asks about this during a press conference, what size cell will that lucky person be locked up in?