Tag Archives: Stephen Preston

Obama administration refuses to tell Congress with whom U.S. is at war

A year ago on May 23, Obama declared in a speech to National Defense University that he intends “to engage Congress” about the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) that resulted from 9-11, “to determine how we can continue to fight terrorism without keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing.”

That’s because, the POS said, “The Afghan war is coming to an end. Core al Qaeda is a shell of its former self. Groups like AQAP must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States.” To avoid being “drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers,” Obama said “I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.”

A year later, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee convened a hearing to do just that — to review the AUMF and determine whether it should be repealed. The committee’s member senators took seriously their charge, but not the two lawyers sent to represent the White House. To get a simple “yes” or “no” answer from those two was like pulling teeth.

In this post, you’ll read for yourselves just how pointless the hearing was, how empty Obama’s grand words were in that National Defense University speech, and how meaningless are this man’s promises.

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Why Obama Wants to Veto S.1867

UPDATES: 
On December 31, 2011, Obama signed this effective martial-law bill into law.
Our concerns about Sec. 1031 are ignored. The reconcile conference committee has produced a final version of NDAA, which Obama says he will not veto. US citizens are NOT exempted from being arrested and detained without charge or trial. See my post of Dec. 14, 2011: “”U.S. Citizens Still Subject to Detention w/out Trial in Final Version of Defense Bill.”
See also, “There Really Are FEMA Camps.”
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Some among us are puzzled as to why Obama has made known he plans to veto the recently passed Senate bill 1867, that will give him (and future Presidents) immense power.
The now infamous Section 1031 of S. 1867 does not exclude U.S. citizens from those “covered persons” whom the President can have the military arrest and detain without charge or trial. In effect, S. 1867 suspends and  removes the protection of the U.S. Constitution from American citizens if they/we are deemed to be “at war” with the United States, whatever “at war” means.

Obama’s opposition to S. 1867 is not due to his passion to preserve our civil liberties.
Matt Apuzzo of the AP reports that on Dec. 1, 2011, “top national security lawyers” in the Obama administration said exactly what S. 1867’s Sec. 1031 says — that “U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets when they take up arms with al-Qaida.”

The Obama administration’s CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson, were asked at a national security conference about the CIA killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and leading al-Qaida figure who died in a Sept. 30 U.S. drone strike in the mountains of Yemen. The two lawyers did not directly address the al-Awlaki case, but they did say U.S. citizens do not have immunity when they are at war with the United States. Echoing S. 1867’s Sec. 1031, Johnson said only the executive branch, not the courts, is equipped to make military battlefield targeting decisions about who qualifies as an enemy.

So why is Obama opposed to S. 1867?
It is not for reasons of protecting U.S. citizens, but because Obama opposes S. 1867’s “military detention” of those “covered persons.” Military detention means those “covered persons” become prisoners of war (POWs), and POWs are covered by the Geneva Convention, which forbids the torture of POWs.
In other words, Obama wants to continue to be able to use torture on “covered persons” — a category that, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein says in her e-mail, includes U.S. citizens.
As former Wall Street Journal editor and columnist Paul Craig Roberts explains:

“The Obama regime’s objection to military detention is not rooted in concern for the constitutional rights of American citizens. The regime objects to military detention because the implication of military detention is that detainees are prisoners of war.[…]

Detainees treated according to the laws of war have the protections of the Geneva Conventions. They cannot be tortured. The Obama regime opposes military detention, because detainees would have some rights. These rights would interfere with the regime’s ability to send detainees to CIA torture prisons overseas. [Yes, Obama is still apparently allowing “extraordinary renditions” to torture people abroad.] This is what the Obama regime means when it says that the requirement of military detention denies the regime “flexibility.”

The Bush/Obama regimes have evaded the Geneva Conventions by declaring that detainees are not POWs, but “enemy combatants,” “terrorists,” or some other designation that removes all accountability from the US government for their treatment.

By requiring military detention of the captured, Congress is undoing all the maneuvering that two regimes have accomplished in removing POW status from detainees.

A careful reading of the Obama regime’s objections to military detention supports this conclusion. (See https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/112/saps1867s_20111117.pdf)”

Update (12.11.2011):
More than 2 years ago, Obama had proposed the creation of “a legal basis” for the preventive and indefinite detention of American citizens. Go here.
~Eowyn

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