There’s been a lot of discussion and furor over the National Defense Authorization Act, with numerous bloggers making claims which are not based on what is actually in the bill. I’ve addressed some of this before, but I still see a lot of people – most notably Glenn Greenwald, Marcy Wheeler, and the usual gang of idiots - making various assertions about it, particularly the “indefinite detentions” provisions. Let’s get real, for a moment, shall we?
First off, there is nothing in this bill which is “new.” I know that Winning Progressive has a new post up saying it sets a “precedent”, and as much as I usually agree with them, they’re wrong. Yes, it puts into an authorization statements, but they simply say that the existing powers and capability are still in force. That’s not “precedent.” That’s the status quo.
Secondly, there was this quote:
That amendment failed 38-60. That vote total, however, does suggest that the Senate may not have been able to override a veto had the President issued one.
It’s a forlorn hope. The bill passed 86-13. So, even with that “odious” language, no, the Senate would have been able to override a veto. It passed the House by 283 – 136, by the way, also a greater than 2:1 margin. What people forget is that this is the bill that funds the military. It’s considered a “must pass” bill.
There seems to be a notion that if President Obama had vetoed it, Congress would have gone back and redone the bill. The vote totals say something quite different. They would have simply voted to override, and they had the votes to do it. Now, yes, lots of liberal bloggers would have been thrilled to death that he vetoed it. Well, not really. Most of them would have come up with another reason why he “failed.” Getting overridden on a veto wouldn’t have done much for him, either.
So the practical aspects were that the language had been changed enough from the most objectionable proposals – which still seems to be the sheet of music Greenwald and company are working off of – to something which basically said “nothing changes from before” and the President has said he’s not going to enforce. Ideal? No, not even close. But it’s what you can get now.
You want those changed? Then you have to change Congress first. That’s what everyone seems to ignore. Every major “must pass” funding bill is going to have something objectionable to someone in it. That’s the reality of politics. The only way you keep it from being objectionable to you is if you can get Congress on your side. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time.