The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act gives the Department of Defense a baseline of $554 billion dollars plus another $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan, a total of $642.5 billion. In a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which is supposedly for cutting government spending, the vote was 299-120 for this bill. This bill reduced the baseline expenses by $19.5 billion from the 2012 National Defense Authorization act which was for $662 billion baseline, yet some of the provisions are very controversial.
Even though the Budget Control Act of 2011 required a cap on 2013 defense spending at $546 billion, plus cutting another $110 billion in spending across the board with half coming from defense by January of 2013. Both President Obama and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives requested amounts that exceeded the cap. President Obama requested the Congress to limit spending at a 4 billion less than what was finally passed, which was still over the cap.
With all the infighting between the President and the Congress over who is spending too much, it looks as if both are. Both the Republicans and Democrats are big government parties; if you want to see a video on why politicians do not cut spending click here for a video from LearnLiberty.org. It also looks as if neither side will stick to the budget caps they agreed to in the BCA of 2011.
One of the most controversial parts of this excessive bill is the inclusion of a provision that allows for the indefinite detention of terror suspects which can include American citizens, without a trial. The battlefield on the so-called “war on terror” has been expanded now to include the United States and its territories. This allows for anyone considered to be a combatant or supporter to be subject to detention by the military, without allowing for a trial to prove innocence of the charges levied.
Some in Congress are against This Provision
There are Senators and Congressmen that are opposed to the inclusion of the indefinite detention provision. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), son of Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), who is a Republican with Libertarian leanings stated, “”detaining citizens without a court trial is not American” and that since the law has passed “the terrorists have won”. He was also quoted for saying, “We’re talking about American citizens who can be taken from the United States and sent to a camp at Guantánamo Bay and held indefinitely. It puts every single citizen American at risk,” he went on to elaborate, “Really, what security does this indefinite detention of Americans give us? The first and flawed premise, both here and in the badly named Patriot Act, is that our pre-9/11 police powers were insufficient to stop terrorism. This is simply not borne out by the facts.”
On the other side of the house Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) vocalized her opposition when saying, “Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge,” and she further pointed out, “We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge.”
President Obama did attempt to clarify that he has no intention of detaining Americans, but he could change his mind in the future. Also any president that follows his reign can do so with this bill as written. Obama stated, “that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.” He further said, “Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation.” Yet even with those statements, it is not illegal for him to detain someone indefinitely, if he wishes. We can only go on his word, the same word that broke the spending cap. The only way for him to be kept in check is by Congress. That same Congress that broke the spending cap even worse than the President requested.
One of the scariest parts of current legislation is how the term “terrorist” is now a broad term. Per Senator Rand Paul, “There are laws on the books now that characterize who might be a terrorist: someone missing fingers on their hands is a suspect according to the Department of Justice. Someone who has guns, someone who has ammunition that is weather-proofed, someone who has more than seven days of food in their house can be considered a potential terrorist,” Paul also went on to say, “If you are suspected because of these activities, do you want the government to have the ability to send you to Guantánamo Bay for indefinite detention?”
With the never-ending “war on terror”, this law has some draconian measure that holds one until the “end of hostilities”. We have been in a state of undeclared war since 2001 and there is no light at the end of the tunnel in the foreseeable future. There are hawks in both the Democrat and Republican camp, and with Israel poised to strike Iran, this never-ending conflict could go for decades to come. With a bad vote in Congress and the stroke of the Presidents pen, a good portion of the Bill of Rights and your personal liberties have vanished.