Well, that didn’t take long.
I’ve said all along, when people criticize me and accuse me of being in the bag for President Obama that when the time came, I’d let him have it. That time has come. You see, I’m a registered Democrat, that much is true. I’m also extremely liberal. I make these statements up front to anyone who reads my work so they don’t think I’m pretending to be Walter Cronkite or Edward Murrow. I am biased, extremely so. My assumption is that you’re here either because you share my bias, or you hate it and want to read something to make you angrily and furiously masturbate later.
But I digress.
2013 has already given me the opportunity to lace into our dear, freshly re-elected President Obama. Yesterday was a rather big news day. We had the swearing in of the 113th Congress, which thankfully means the 112th congress is leaving. But then again the first bill brought to the floor was to repeal Obamacare again so the more things change, etc. Also transpiring yesterday, our first openly gay female Senator, Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) was sworn in. Major Tea Party backed candidates were discharged from their duties yesterday. And slipped-in among all the good news for liberals came extremely disappointing news not just for liberals, but for all Americans.
President Obama re-signed the National Defense Authorization act, or NDAA as it’s come to be known in the pejorative sense. The NDAA is a piece of legislation that sets the budget for the Department of Defense for the current fiscal year but it also sets out rules for how our country, and specifically our president, can conduct the so-called “War on Terrorism.” In this country, every person is guaranteed due process under the law. It was a major step forward when our Constitution was written, and it’s a sign to the world that we are civilized and care about everyone getting their day in court. We’re also promised a speedy trial because no one deserves to languish forever in jail before they even get their trial. It’s inhumane to make even the harshest criminal suffer that emotional abuse before they’re even tried for their alleged crimes.
But the NDAA chucks all that due process out the window if the suspect is someone we think is a terrorist even if the suspect is an American citizen. Now, I happen to think that we should be taking the high road with every single person we arrest or detain in this war we find ourselves in. I happen to also think it’s in our best interests to treat everyone as if they are citizens and give them due process under the law. Why? Because nothing makes us look like the Western Imperialist Dictators that we’re accused of being by fundamentalist terrorist groups like whisking away their cohorts to Guantanamo Bay for the rest of their lives, never getting a trial. The NDAA lets us do just that.
The NDAA is also what supposedly gives the president his powers to initiate strikes from our unmanned drone fleet. These flying death robots have been available to us for years, since the Bush II administration, but surprisingly the more progressive Obama has been the first president to really lean on them. Personally I find drone strikes repulsive, but then I feel all war and violence is repulsive. I’d be much more willing to sign off on them if I knew why we were using them and upon whom. If Congress was given oversight and advanced notice of the so-called “kill list” I’d be happier about that too. But what frustrates me most about the NDAA is Obama’s wishy-washy way in which he’s signed the damned thing.
He keeps making statements that he strongly disagrees with the indefinite detention, and that he wants clear guidelines for the drone strikes, but then he puts his pen on the dotted line and signs anyway. Mr. President, if I may address you directly for just one small sentence: Stop it; and just close Gitmo by executive order and be done with the whole thing. I am all for the rule of law, the separation of powers, and all that good stuff. But I am also a firm believer in our president using his executive powers sparingly but in very appropriate times. This is one of those times.
With no fear of re-election, it’s hard to imagine why Obama wouldn’t just order the base in Cuba closed and the provision about indefinite detention stricken. An impeachment vote would die on the Senate floor thanks to the Democratic majority. Most Americans would understand that Obama would not be sending a bunch of terrorists out into the streets, but simply into our legal system to get the trials they deserve. Enemy combatants or not, they are human beings deserving of a trial and fair treatment. President Obama allegedly believes in those ideals.
It’s time for him to act upon them.