The Real Reason for Obama’s Threat to Veto the Indefinite Detention Bill (Hint: It’s Not to Protect Liberty)

Obama Wants to Veto the Indefinite Detention Bill Because It Would Hold the U.S. to the Geneva Convention

I – like everyone else – am horrified by the Senate’s passage of legislation that would allow for indefinite detention of Americans.

And at first, I – like many others – assumed that Obama’s threat to veto the bill might be a good thing. But the truth is much more disturbing.

As former Wall Street Street editor and columnist Paul Craig Roberts correctly notes:

The Obama regime’s objection to military detention is not rooted in concern for the constitutional rights of American citizens. The regime objects to military detention because the implication of military detention is that detainees are prisoners of war. As Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin put it: Should somebody determined “to be a member of an enemy force who has come to this nation or is in this nation to attack us as a member of a foreign enemy, should that person be treated according to the laws of war? The answer is yes.”

Detainees treated according to the laws of war have the protections of the Geneva Conventions. They cannot be tortured. The Obama regime opposes military detention, because detainees would have some rights. These rights would interfere with the regime’s ability to send detainees to CIA torture prisons overseas. [Yes, Obama is still apparently allowing “extraordinary renditions” to torture people abroad.] This is what the Obama regime means when it says that the requirement of military detention denies the regime “flexibility.”

The Bush/Obama regimes have evaded the Geneva Conventions by declaring that detainees are not POWs, but “enemy combatants,” “terrorists,” or some other designation that removes all accountability from the US government for their treatment.

By requiring military detention of the captured, Congress is undoing all the maneuvering that two regimes have accomplished in removing POW status from detainees.

A careful reading of the Obama regime’s objections to military detention supports this conclusion. (See

The November 17 letter to the Senate from the Executive Office of the President says that the Obama regime does not want the authority it has under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Public Law 107-40, to be codified. Codification is risky, the regime says. “After a decade of settled jurisprudence on detention authority, Congress must be careful not to open a whole new series of legal questions that will distract from our efforts to protect the country.”

In other words, the regime is saying that under AUMF the executive branch has total discretion as to who it detains and how it treats detainees. Moreover, as the executive branch has total discretion, no one can find out what the executive branch is doing, who detainees are, or what is being done to them. Codification brings accountability, and the executive branch does not want accountability.

Those who see hope in Obama’s threatened veto have jumped to conclusions if they think the veto is based on constitutional scruples.

Police State Started Years Ago

Even if Obama’s threatened veto was for more noble purposes, the fact is that it would not change anything, because the U.S. government claimed the power to indefinitely detain and assassinate American citizens years ago.

I noted in 2008:

According to the New York Times:

“A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.”

And according to a Yale law professor, “The [torture] legislation….authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.”

Law school professor and National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn pointed out in 2006:

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 governing the treatment of detainees is the culmination of relentless fear-mongering by the Bush administration since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Because the bill was adopted with lightning speed, barely anyone noticed that it empowers Bush to declare not just aliens, but also U.S. citizens, “unlawful enemy combatants.”


Anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on Bush’s list of “terrorist” organizations, or who speaks out against the government’s policies could be declared an “unlawful enemy combatant” and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.

Glenn Greenwald and Fire Dog Lake’s Emptywheel have also documented that the White House has believed for many years that it possessed the power to indefinitely detain Americans. See this, this, this, and this.

I noted Friday:

The police state started in 2001.

Specifically, on 9/11, Vice President Dick Cheney initiated Continuity of Government Plans that ended America’s constitutional form of government (at least for some undetermined period of time.)

On that same day, a national state of emergency was declared … and that state of emergency has continuously been in effect up to today.

The Obama administration has also said for more than a year and a half it could target American citizens for assassination without any trial or due process.

In 2005, Chris Floyd pointed out that the ability of the government to assassinate U.S. citizens started the very week of 9/11:

On September 17, 2001, George W. Bush signed an executive order authorizing the use of “lethal measures” against anyone in the world whom he or his minions designated an “enemy combatant.” This order remains in force today. No judicial evidence, no hearing, no charges are required for these killings; no law, no border, no oversight restrains them. Bush has also given agents in the field carte blanche to designate “enemies” on their own initiative and kill them as they see fit.

The existence of this universal death squad – and the total obliteration of human liberty it represents – has not provoked so much as a crumb, an atom, a quantum particle of controversy in the American Establishment, although it’s no secret.  The executive order was first bruited in the Washington Post in October 2001 …. The New York Times added further details in December 2002. That same month, Bush officials made clear that the dread edict also applied to American citizens, as the Associated Press reported.

The first officially confirmed use of this power was the killing of an American citizen in Yemen by a CIA drone missile on November 3, 2002. A similar strike occurred in Pakistan this month, when a CIA missile destroyed a house and purportedly killed Abu Hamza Rabia, a suspected al Qaeda figure. But the only bodies found at the site were those of two children, the houseowner’s son and nephew, Reuters reports. The grieving father denied any connection to terrorism. An earlier CIA strike on another house missed Rabia but killed his wife and children, Pakistani officials reported.

But most of the assassinations are carried out in secret, quietly, professionally, like a contract killing for the mob. As a Pentagon document unearthed by the New Yorker in December 2002 put it, the death squads must be “small and agile,” and “able to operate clandestinely, using a full range of official and non-official cover arrangements to…enter countries surreptitiously.”

The dangers of this policy are obvious, as a UN report on “extrajudicial killings” noted in December 2004: ” Empowering governments to identify and kill ‘known terrorists’ places no verifiable obligation upon them to demonstrate in any way that those against whom lethal force is used are indeed terrorists… While it is portrayed as a limited ‘exception’ to international norms, it actually creates the potential for an endless expansion of the relevant category to include any enemies of the State, social misfits, political opponents, or others.”

It’s hard to believe that any genuine democracy would accept a claim by its leader that he could have anyone killed simply by labeling them an “enemy.” It’s hard to believe that any adult with even the slightest knowledge of history or human nature could countenance such unlimited, arbitrary power, knowing the evil it is bound to produce. Yet this is what the great and good in America have done. Like the boyars of old, they not only countenance but celebrate their enslavement to the ruler.

[Note from Washington’s Blog: 9/11 allowed those who glorify war to implement plans they had lusted after for many years (and see this), even though 9/11 happened because Dick Cheney was – at best – totally incompetent, and the government is now doing things which increase the risk of terrorism, instead of doing the things which could actually make us safer.]


This was vividly demonstrated in … Bush’s State of the Union address in January 2003, delivered to Congress and televised nationwide during the final frenzy of war-drum beating before the assault on Iraq. Trumpeting his successes in the Terror War, Bush claimed that “more than 3,000 suspected terrorists” had been arrested worldwide – “and many others have met a different fate.” His face then took on the characteristic leer, the strange, sickly half-smile it acquires whenever he speaks of killing people: “Let’s put it this way. They are no longer a problem.”

In other words, the suspects – and even Bush acknowledged they were only suspects – had been murdered. Lynched. Killed by agents operating unsupervised in that shadow world where intelligence, terrorism, politics, finance and organized crime meld together in one amorphous, impenetrable mass. Killed on the word of a dubious informer, perhaps: a tortured captive willing to say anything to end his torment, a business rival, a personal foe, a bureaucrat looking to impress his superiors, a paid snitch in need of cash, a zealous crank pursuing ethnic, tribal or religious hatreds – or any other purveyor of the garbage data that is coin of the realm in the shadow world.

Bush proudly held up this hideous system as an example of what he called “the meaning of American justice.” And the assembled legislators…applauded. Oh, how they applauded!

This is, of course, the real meaning of the famous Star Wars scene:


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  • sj

    The evidence is in.
    There’s no doubt about what has happened, or is happening.
    It is in contempt of question that America is the new Nazi Germany.

    The only question that remains unanswered is: What do we do about it?

    liberty & justice,


  • Leland

    I’ve always thought that, immediately following the words in that Star Wars clip, the other senator should have said something like: “These are just rejoicing the announcement of its death. I think Liberty actually died some time ago, poisoned peacefully in its sleep.”

    • jo6pac

      Yep and the brown shirts are on the loading dock. I’ve written for sometime that

      Everything is on schedule, please move along.

    • Leland

      I thought I should add that: even when tyrants do succeed in killing Liberty, its spirit lives on; even if hidden centuries for fear in the most secret places of the hearts and minds and soul and spirit of those who love it, ever yearning to be reborn. And that truth is what makes tyrants tremble in fear upon their beds.

  • David Smith

    “You” write over and over in the above article “I” this and “I” that. Who are “you”?

  • johnnyrock

    Do the people in congress and the senate realize that they can and will be on the list when they start to cut each others throats. This bill is dangerious to all Americans

  • dogismyth

    it’ll pass one way or another. They are leaning towards drastic measures for the so-called domestic “terrorists”.!

  • Each and almost everyone of OUR U.S. Presidents “are” or were Free Masons Of the 33 Level or Degree– even a couple of the chosen choices we get to VOTE for this next YEAR.. at the 33 level they Know they serve lucifer.. Buildebergs.. UN , IMF, Council of Foreign Relations…
    What do you expect it has been this way since the founding of the District of Columbia were Free Masons.. Even Newt is the Illuminati Choice for 2012 — the videos of all this is on the internet tube.. vote for someone they (the ELITE ) dont want.. Wake UP BEFORE you are RFID chipped..

  • Churchill

    Yea, with the DoD currently selling overstock, everything from amphibious tanks, self-propelled grenades to m -16 and ammo and etc. to any local police force willing to buy at rockbottom basement prices, can anyone tell me if Obama decided to continue with Bush’s ‘Pre-emptive Strike Policy’ after he reviewed it when he took office, as well as promising to keep Europe supplied in oil if they were cut off during war?

  • Jon

    While liberty dies – a lingering and painful death – most of the people remain blissfully unaware and unconcerned.
    First, because they are so woefully ignorant of history that they don’t recognize what is happening, and second because they correctly see that there is absolutely nothing they can do about it. The police state is in full control, and nothing they do, no matter how egregious, arouses more than a moment’s outrage.
    Just do the math – how many people, how well armed, would it take to overwhelm the police in your city? How many more, when the military shows up to “restore order”? Not ever going to happen, is it?
    Reform the tax code? Not when that means taking away all those exemptions and credits buried in the thousands of pages of IRS regulations for corporations.
    Health care? What are the odds of taking all that profit away from the HMOs, insurance companies and Big Pharma?
    Cut the defense budget? Don’t make me laugh.
    The only thing supporting the edifice of corruption is force…

    Standing armies being dangerous to liberty…

    America was warned, many times, and ignored the warnings. Now it is time to pay the piper.

  • markboggs

    We face a point in time that is more important than any other since the founding of this country. The time has come for all Americans to stand up and defend our US Constitutional rights or lose them alltogether. I am willing to die defending our rights as American citizens. I am 50 with two boys 11 and 14yrs. old and would gladly give my life to preserve what our founding fathers charished, (FREEDOM). It is to be charished, nurtured, and defended at any cost, up to and including my own death. This pledge I make to all who love me, know me, and those I don’t know at all, but are my patriotic brothers and sisters in this struggle to stay free.

    • Lincoln killed Freedom!

      He was the first to suspend Hadeus Corpus during his war of Federal Domination. Look at the urelenting growth of the Fed. Gov. ever since. 1913 then 1933.


    “Anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on Bush’s list of “terrorist” organizations, or who speaks out against the government’s policies could be declared an “unlawful enemy combatant” and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.”


    Obviously a good number of you that are voicing your UNINFORMED opinions on this subject here have not even read the Bill as the “Detainment of U.S. citizens” would not take place unless the Congress where to vote for a Deceleration Of War within the U.S. and the prospect of that happening is a very unlikely scenario.

    Obama can and should veto this piece of TRASH because that’s exactly what it is, a Far Right Republican Wingnut piece of TRASH,….. your Tax Dollars at work folks !

    • suckit

      All they’d have to do is execute another 9/11 and tell the government/corporate controlled main stream media to spread that it was an inside job. They could just tell those of you who still watch Fox, CNN, MSNBC that it was some nut-job militia or even the Occupiers. Then all they’d have to do is declare a state of war in the US. Then we are all declared ‘terrorists’. They come after me, I’ll fight them to my death before they take me to some torture camp simply because I disagree with what they are doing to us.

  • The lines have been drawn in the sand and defined as the time left is reduced. Evil that masquerades under a banner of “peace and security” all the while being the greatest perpetrators of war, terrorism and incomprehensible human suffering. Truth is light , they fear light , they fear truth, they fear exposure for everything they plan and plot and conspire is incubated in darkness . Light penetrates darkness and the darkness MUST leave. They see us as their slaves, to be extinguished as they please, in their wars they manufacture to feed their insatiable greed for power and riches. They feed off the blood, sweat and tears of humankind. We are at war, not against nations but against evil. Know it.

  • Yes we are at war with evil incarnate soon i believe. Remember that one who comes to straighten this all out will not be Jesus Christ. It will be his imposter. When Christ returns, and he will, we will all be changed in a moment, the twinkeling of an eye. Then you will know Jesus Christ has returned. Then what will all the war mongers have to say? Better still what will God have ?

  • Soryang

    An American cannot by law be a detainee (as defined by the Geneva Conventions) when held by US troops because he is subject to US law, the law of the detaining power, by definition. Now if, Obama used preexisting legal authority to strip the US national of his or her citizenship by providing support or aid to terrorism, then he could be a detainee, if not an “enemy combatant.” The key distinction however is “unlawful enemy combatant.” An unlawful enemy combatant is not identifiable as a member of the armed forces of a recognized state or organized armed force. As such they are no more than a criminal at large subject to prosecution for unlawful acts under the law of armed conflict. Therefore, an unlawful enemy combatant, is held as a detainee subject to criminal prosecution. In an occupied territory this could be by the martial tribunals of the detaining power or the criminal courts of the host nation or the criminal courts of the nation to whom the detainee belongs as a national. Guantanamo is none of these legally when dealing with a US citizen.
    Technically, I would not expect the President to strip a US national of their citizenship by a definitive act, because totalitarian states prefer to operate by vagueness, again not giving lawyers any definition of status to challenge or bootstrap upon.

  • brad johnson

    2 days on a computer for me to know who really did sept 11 and how it was done. hahahahahaha. it weren’t no Al K. Duh.

  • brad johnson

    Beast with 10 Horns= 10 FEMA

  • Wayne J

    Well, during WW2, isn’t this what happened to the German POWs? Their designation was changed to
    Detained Enemy Forces (DEFs), their rations were then cut off and 1.6 million or there abouts starved to death, all this after the surrender. Eisenhower, it is alleged, initialed the SHAEF document allowing this.
    It is further stated his allowed them to destroy all documents relating to their identity and disposition. Google up: “Eisenhower and the DEF.”