Following up on several threats they issued throughout the month of November, the White House today warned that President Obama may still veto the defense bill over a provision that requires military custody for those detained without trial on suspicion of terrorism.
Incredibly, the prospect of detaining American citizens indefinitely without even the pretense of due process isn’t the reason for the objection. Rather, the administration says that the decision on whether to keep “suspects” held for all eternity in a military brig or in some sort of civilian-run prison system should be entirely up to the president and they believe that the Senate is “micro-managing” the situation.
Sen. Carl Levin (D – MI) has defended the provision, insisting that there are a number of loopholes in the bill which would allow the president to conduct show trials or detain suspects in civilian courts in special cases, and with no real oversight.
The ACLU has been critical of the policy, saying that as worded it would given the president the power to order the military to capture any civilian on the planet, including US citizens inside the United States, and hold them without any access to the court system. Again, there doesn’t seem to be any dispute that this is what the bill says, and among politicians the only question is whether or not to given the president the option to have them held by civilian police instead.