Dem Think-tank on NDAA: Obama Says He Won't Detain Citizens, and That's Good Enough for Us!

Ken Gude of the so-very-closely-aligned-with-Obama Center for American Progress offers up the dumbest argument you'll find in defense of the detention provisions contained in the National Defense Authorization Act.

It is so dumb, in fact, that it disputes itself. Behold: 

The detainee provisions are seriously flawed, but it is inaccurate and irresponsible to claim, as both the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch have, that this bill represents a return to the “McCarthy era.” This argument overlooks the key factor in assessing the scope of military detention. President Obama has made clear he does not want military detention in the United States, and Congress has already recognized that he has discretionary power to interpret detention authority to rule that out.

Obama says he won't consign American citizens to military detention, and that's good enough for us! 

Now skip to the end:

Yes, a future president may interpret that authority differently, but that is both a fight for another day ...

As many have pointed out, the detention powers in the NDAA aren't new. Bush rammed them through an intimidated Congress after 9/11, and they were later limited to a degree by a series of Supreme Court decisions. 

NDAA reaffirms and codifies those executive powers, 10 years after the attacks, and severs them from 9/11. Gude is probably right that this administration won't detain U.S. citizens accused of terrorism -- which doesn't do much for the due process of non-citizens -- but what about President Chelsea Clinton or a lunatic like Michele Bachmann? What about the next administration to feature a Dick Cheney?

Whatever else one wants to say about the administration's handling of the NDAA, it proved an old political cliché: regardless of who is in office at the time, once grabbed, the executive branch nevergives up power without a fight. 

AlterNet / By Joshua Holland

Posted at December 16, 2011, 9:59am