Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ten years and another $660 billion for...

Gitmos in training:

The Republican-controlled House today passed a defense bill that authorizes awarding more than half a trillion dollars to military contractors, drone-makers, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while, at the same time, as USA Today reports, enhancing the ability to prosecute terrorists in civilian courts.

In the decade since the U.S. has remanded what Donald Rumsfeld dubbed "unlawful enemy combatants" to the naval base in Cuba, this measure which is nearly certain to be approved by the Senate on Thursday, virtually guarantees the continuance of unlimited detention, providing the military with the capacity to arrest and hold anyone inside the U.S., whether they're a U.S. citizen or not, who it deems is engaged in any subversive plot or activity.

As USA Today also notes, this new defense bill "will also give the president additional discretion in determining how the law will be implemented," thereby continuing that unitary executive thingy from the George W. Bush years.

Importantly, if this measure passes the Senate as expected, "suspected terrorists," domestic insurrectionists?, "even U.S. citizens seized within this nation's borders" will be denied the right to trial and held indefinitely.

So, not only has the President rescinded his promise to close Guantanamo, he also reneged on his promise to veto a measure that continues indefinite detention. Not only has the Military Commissions Act not been overturned, but this bill essentially expands its power to include domestic capture, and detention.

As executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, observes: “By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law."

Moreover, the president has violated his own executive order to close Guantanamo Bay within a year, an order he issued shortly after he was inaugurated.

Thanks to this bill, too, as HRW asserts, the military will now assume domestic functions previously relegated to local law enforcement, and the FBI, and able to incarcerate anyone deemed a so-called high value terrorism suspect.

At a time of draconian cuts and austerity measures, the Pentagon now wants to give another $1 trillion to cover the cost of nearly 2500 new military aircraft. This is not only egregious, it flies in the face of common sense.

Now is the time to draw a line in the sand, and not build another sand castle. Defense appropriation is not just about money, but about basic values. This defense bill is an insult to all the ideals every service member in this country has fought for. If it manages to get past the Senate, President Obama must veto it.