An edited video of Carl Levin claiming that Obama wanted the language in the NDAA caused outrage among many Americans, but the full Levin video reveals the opposite.
The YouTube video claimed to be proof that Obama is going to sign a citizen imprisonment law:
However, in the first 30 minutes of the debate Sen. Levin stated that the NDAA provisions do not apply to US citizens:
Hours prior to the YouTube proof video Sen. Levin stated on the Senate floor that the Obama administration requested that the provision be changed so that it does not apply to American citizens, but he explained the provision wasn’t changed because it already didn’t apply to American citizens, “The administration officials reviewed the draft language for this provision the day before our markup and recommended additional changes. We were able to accommodate those recommendations, except for the administration request that the provision apply only to detainees who are captured overseas. There is a good reason for that. But even here, the difference is relatively modest, because the provision already excludes all U.S. citizens. It also excludes all lawful residents of the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution. The only covered persons left are those who are illegally in this country or who arrive as tourists or on some other short-term basis, and that is a small remaining category, but an important one, because it includes the terrorists who clandestinely arrive in the United States with the objective of attacking military or other targets here.”
People need to stop believing everything they read from certain pundits and every claim made in a two minute video.
Yes, NDAA was poorly written originally and even after the changes is a crappy bill; it was written in the Senate Armed Services Committee (McCain/Graham- hello), and as such is a nod to Republican authoritarian stances of the Bush administration. It was co-authored by a Democrat, whom many saw in the above shortened video from C-SPAN claiming the President had asked for “this language”.
Of course, the President did not ask for this language, and this is a matter of record, see the November Senate Armed Services Committee mark up of their original NDAA bill referred to by Levin with objections from Obama:
The new bill would also clarify a number of provisions addressing detainee matters in an effort to address concerns raised by the Administration and others. As requested by the Administration, the new bill would clarify that the section providing detention authority does not expand the existing authority to detain under the Authorization for Use of Military Force Force and make Guantanamo- related restrictions one-year requirements instead of permanent restrictions.
The new bill would also modify a provision requiring military custody of al Qaeda members who attack the United States (subject to a national security waiver) to clarify the President’s authority to decide who makes determinations of coverage, how they are made, and when they are made. As modified, the provision makes it clear that these determinations will not interfere with any ongoing law enforcement operations or interrogations. Under the modified provision, the Executive Branch has the flexibility to keep a covered detainee in civilian custody pursuant to a national security determination, or to transfer a military detainee for trial in the civilian courts. The Administration agreed to have military custody apply to al Qaeda members captured outside the United States (subject to a national security waiver) but disagrees with the committee decision not to preclude the application of the provision inside the United States.
You might be wondering why the video was edited to lead you to believe that he did. That’s a great question.
You might also be asking yourself if the same people who were so willing to believe the author of the bill, Carl Levin, will be as willing to believe Levin’s full statement, in which he clearly says that the President did not want this language.
Had Obama not objected to the language, we would be stuck with the original bill since 83 senators voted yes on the original bill which also passed through the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously.
People should be asking themselves about the agenda behind not holding the authors of the bill and indeed the Senate accountable for the language in this bill, as it is the same Senate who refused to fund Obama’s executive order to close Gitmo. We note their attempt to run an end-game around Obama’s push for civilian courts and their attempt to slide in permanent changes to restrictions regarding Gitmo. The President objected to those permanent changes.
One would think that anyone who cared about the issue of closing Gitmo would be up in arms at the Senators’ attempt to use a funding bill to get around Obama’s attempts to get around their refusal to fund the closure of Gitmo.
We are in no way defending NDAA. However, the language was changed, and when taken in total (instead of parsed), courtesy of Mother Jones:
It does not, contrary to what many media outlets have reported, authorize the president to indefinitely detain without trial an American citizen suspected of terrorism who is captured in the US. A last minute compromise amendment adopted in the Senate, whose language was retained in the final bill, leaves it up to the courts to decide if the president has that power, should a future president try to exercise it. But if a future president does try to assert the authority to detain an American citizen without charge or trial, it won’t be based on the authority in this bill….
The language in the bill that relates to the detention authority as far as US citizens and permanent residents are concerned is, “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 bill is still rotten. It takes us in the wrong direction, moving us toward the militarization rather than the civilian courts this President and the majority of the American people desire. The bill represents the Republican approach to national security; one that the American people soundly rejected in 2008. Luckily the President got the language changed, because even if he chose to veto it, it would be for naught, as the Senate had 83 votes for it and it takes only 67 to override a Presidential veto.
In the House the first NDAA vote was 322-96. The final vote was 283-136 with 43 Republicans voting no. If Obama would have vetoed and 35 of those 43 Republicans flipped to yes, the House would have had the votes to override a presidential veto.
The real focus should be on why this bill was written in this way in the first place, when we the people were very clear about wanting civilian trials, and this president has been clear about his desire to close Gitmo.
In the meantime, we urge you to watch the entire C-SPAN video of Levin, lest we all be Breitbarted, because it matters that we are all clear on exactly who is trying to take our country in the wrong direction.