Obama Throws Away Civil Liberties With Defense Bill

President to sign bill allowing indefinite detention of Americans
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2011 1:58 PM CST
Obama Throws Away Civil Liberties With Defense Bill
US President Barack Obama makes a statement in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus December 15, 2011 in Washington, DC.   (Getty Images/AFP)

President Obama is taking a lot of heat today for dropping his threat to veto a controversial defense bill that could allow the military to capture and indefinitely detain American citizens on US soil. In a fiery editorial, the New York Times today called it "a complete political cave-in, one that reinforces the impression of a fumbling presidency," saying it had too many objectionable parts to name. Other criticism has included:

  • Andrew Sullivan, a longtime Obama fan, says the move "is another sign that his campaign pledge to be vigilant about civil liberties in the war on terror was a lie," noting that the president's initial objection to the bill was not that it infringed on Americans' civil rights, but on executive power.
  • Over at Salon, Glenn Greenwald takes an in-depth look at the bill's language, demonstrating that it does indeed codify indefinite detention under the law, expand the scope of the war on terror, and at least leave open the possibility of the military detaining US citizens. We recommend taking a look.
  • "It's the wrong choice," the LA Times laments, complaining that by sidelining the FBI and civilian courts in terror cases, the bill ignores their "proven record of success," while trampling on the rights of the accused. Obama, who has often advocated those rights, "should have had the courage of his convictions."
(Read more Barack Obama stories.)

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