by Mandy Simon
May 26, 2011
Defense Bill Also Contains Several Other Troubling Provisions
WASHINGTON - May 26
The House today passed the National Defense
Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains a dangerous provision that
authorizes a worldwide war against terrorism suspects and against nations
suspected of supporting them.
The bill includes several additional troubling
provisions, including one that would needlessly delay the implementation of
the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and another
blocking all federal criminal trials of suspected terrorists who are not
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) strongly opposes the
authorization for worldwide war and many other provisions in the bill.
Earlier this week, President
Obama threatened to veto the legislation,
citing concerns with the worldwide war provision and provisions limiting the
executive branch’s authority to transfer terrorism suspects to the United
States for prosecution or for release to other countries.
An amendment to
strike the worldwide war provision failed despite a strong bipartisan vote.
“The tide has begun to turn against the worldwide war proposal,” said Laura
W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.
ago, very few people even knew this dangerous worldwide war provision was
being considered. Yet today, a bipartisan group of 187 members voted to try
to block its passage and the president has issued a veto threat against it.
The Senate should now build on today’s momentum and kill off this dangerous
unlimited war proposal.
A new authorization of worldwide war will mean
unrestricted powers to use the military at home and abroad at a time when
the majority of Americans want limits on U.S. involvement in foreign
conflicts. Not only will this authority make America less safe, it is
unnecessary and will undermine our values and change us as a nation.”
The worldwide war provision was added to the bill by the committee's
chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), and goes much further than the
current authorization of war.
The new authorization would last as long as
there are terrorism suspects anywhere in the world and would allow a
president to use military force in any country around the world where there
are terrorism suspects, even when there is no connection to the 9/11 attacks
or any other specific harm or threat to the United States.
The NDAA’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” provisions would delay repeal
implementation by expanding the repeal law’s certification requirements to
include each service chief for each branch of the armed forces and deny
lesbian and gay service members equal access to federal facilities on the
basis of their sexual orientation.
“Trying to throw a roadblock up to derail ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal at
this point is a desperate attempt to postpone the inevitable,” said Murphy.
“For nearly 20 years, lesbian, gay and bisexual service members have been
forced to hide who they are and who they love in order to serve their
It was with the will of the president, the uniformed and civilian
leadership of the military and Congress itself that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
was repealed and its implementation will continue to move forward
successfully despite the attempts by some House members to disrupt it.”
An important reproductive rights amendment, however, was not even considered
The amendment, offered by Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and five
other co-sponsors, would have ended the current unconscionable ban on
insurance coverage of abortion care for servicewomen and dependents in cases
of rape and incest.
“It is indefensible that the House would decide against voting on an
amendment to benefit our women in uniform who become pregnant as a result of
rape. Women who join the military face shocking levels of sexual assault and
this current ban on abortion coverage is both unfair and disgraceful,” said
An amendment to create a new, costly school voucher program was defeated.
The ACLU opposes school vouchers because they allow taxpayer dollars to go
to religious schools and undermine the separation of church and state. The
defeated amendment would have forced students who used the vouchers to
forfeit many of the protections guaranteed to them in the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic
values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and
preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in
the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
House Passes Authority for Worldwide War
by Sam Milgrom
Washington Legislative Office
May 26, 2011
The House just passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA),
including a provision to authorize worldwide war, which has no expiration
date and will allow this president - and any future president - to go to war
anywhere in the world, at any time, without further congressional
The new authorization wouldn’t even require the president to
show any threat to the national security of the United States. The American
military could become the world’s cop, and could be sent into harm’s way
almost anywhere and everywhere around the globe.
Before the vote, the House debated an amendment that would have struck the
worldwide war provision.
That amendment was introduced by a bipartisan group
Given the enormity of the proposed
law, you’d expect the House to debate the amendment to strike it
extensively, but that’s not what happened.
The amendment was debated for a
total of 20 minutes. That’s right. Twenty minutes to debate whether Congress
should hand the executive branch sweeping worldwide war authority.
The vote on the amendment took place earlier this afternoon, and it failed
on the House floor by a vote of 187-in favor to 234-opposed.
Check the vote
But not to worry, all of your efforts to bring the importance of the new law
and the amendment to strike it to your representatives’ attention have not
been in vain - we promise. Today’s vote marks the end only of the first
stage in our opposition to an authorization of endless worldwide war for the
president and to be honest, we came out looking pretty good.
Though it is a bit awkward to celebrate a loss, a margin of defeat of only
47 votes on a provision that most people were unaware of as recently as two
weeks ago is a big step forward. The momentum is on our side. And the Obama
administration helped efforts to turn the tide when it issued a threat
earlier this week to
veto the NDAA if it contained such board sweeping
language for worldwide war.
Your answers to the call for action and the expedient work of a bipartisan
group of members of Congress and their staff have our opposition movement
very well positioned as we prepare for the next hurdle - the Senate.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to begin its markup of the NDAA
beginning on June 13.