The White House is threatening a veto of the House committee version of the defense authorization bill over Republican attempts to launch a worldwide war without specific targets or reasons, block detainee transfer from Guantanamo, and mess with the president's efforts to reduce active nuclear warheads under the new START treaty. It is also warning Congress against complicating the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Not that you would have heard about this if you read Glenn Greenwald, self-proclaimed Constitutional hero of the anti-war movement.
In the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Republican Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA, serving defense contractors), slipped in a provision to authorize the President to use force anytime, anywhere in the world even without any specific threat to the United States. The ACLU called this provision the worldwide war without end provision. The House bill also includes provisions to limit the president's power of detainee transfer from Guantanamo, as well as seeks to delay the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
On Tuesday, President Obama issued a veto threat over the worldwide war and Guantanamo provision, as well as a strong objection to delaying DADT repeal. "Wow!" exclaimed the ACLU, describing the White House's position as strong and courageous:
The statement is the strongest and most principled stand the White House has taken on these kinds of provisions. The Obama administration is saying no to the proposed worldwide war law. A veto threat is a very big deal. The president is making clear where he stands, and is backing it up with his veto pen, if Congress doesn’t fix the bill.Something to notice here is the President is displaying his Constitutional mastery. He is schooling Congress on both executive powers as well as the powers of Congress. The White House is objecting to the world wide war provision on the ground that the power is too expansive for the executive, and on the other hand, making clear that Congress is stepping out of its bounds by trying to tie the President's hands on detainee transfer, which is within the independent powers of the executive to make prosecutorial decisions within a Constitutional framework, including for terrorism detainees.
The other provision the White House is threatening a veto over is the House Republicans' attempts to screw with the new START treaty. The Republicans want to make it as difficult as possible to implement the law and actually reduce nuclear weapons (I guess Ronald Reagan's dream of a nuclear weapons free world is not acceptable to their "war forever" defense contractor buddies). The White House isn't having any of it.
As the Navy Times reports, the White House is also strongly objecting to the House Republican provision trying to stifle the implementation of the DADT repeal.
And although not specifically threatening a veto over the issue, the administration also said it “strongly objects” to provisions aimed at preventing, delaying or undermining repeal of the ban on open service by gays. The House bill would change the process for certifying when the Defense Department is ready to allow that to happen. The White House said anything that sounds like delay creates “uncertainty for service members and their families.”What the White House has done here is stake out a strong position in favor of strong national security, against over-expansive war powers.
I wonder why Glenn Greenwald, who is always falling over himself to bash the Obama administration on everything from executive powers to war authority to LGBT issues, has not said a word about this in his Salon column. One possible explanation I can come up with is that the actions of the White House here belie Greenwald's fantasy about how President Obama is worse that President Bush on national security. I guess this story doesn't really help his narrative, even if it's good for America. You see, after you have spent more than two years demonizing the President, if you can't find an "Obama is evil" angle on a story, I guess you best just stay off of it.