What to Watch for In the FY 2013 NDAA: Detainees, LOST, and START

Friday, May 18th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Foreign Policy

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Last year’s reauthorization of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets policy and funding levels for our military and foreign operations, turned out to be quite contentious.  The main kerfuffle focused on a provision of the bill that critics believed would authorize the military to permanently detain American citizens labeled as enemy combatants caught on American soil.

The House will voted on scores of amendments to the bill today.  Some of those amendments will deal with detainees.

Here is an excerpt from this week’s Madisonian that explains the relevant details for this year’s bill.

Last year’s NDAA caused some pungent divisions within the conservative coalition.  Ambiguous language in the 2012 defense law led many conservatives to believe that the military would have the authority to suspend habeas corpus and indefinitely detain Americans who are suspected of engaging in terrorism for Al Qaeda – even on American soil.  Other conservatives contended that the 2012 law contained no such expansion.  They argued that failure to pass this law would undermine the 2001 use of force law, which grants the president the power to “use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons” involved in the September 11 attacks “in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

In order to clear up the confusion and gratuitous infighting within our coalition, Reps. Buck McKeon and Jeff Landry  amended the committee bill to explicitly clarify that “nothing in the Authorization for Use of Military Force … [2001] or the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution for any person who is detained in the United States pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force.”

This is a great unifying bill designed to ensure that our military and intelligence agencies will have wide latitude in fighting out foreign enemies, while preserving basic habeas corpus rights at home.  Some of the hard-core libertarians, like Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) are still trying to combat the NDAA and remove any provision go after enemy combatants caught on American soil.  It is our opinion that the new bill addresses those concerns, but some conservatives might still oppose the bill.

You can read more about this provision from the op-ed at Red State by the bill’s sponsors. It is clear that any attempt to gut this provision will only serve to reerect the walls that hampered our efforts in combating terrorism during the Clinton years.  Rep. Justin Amash, who is great on fiscal issues, has ventured off into Ron Paul-land on foreign policy and is introducing an amendment that would essentially bar us from detainee even foreign terrorists.  This is getting out of hand.  I would urge everyone to request a no vote on the Amash amendment.

Another big issue that will come up through the amendment process is the defunding of the “Law of the Sea Treaty.”

Among other things, LOST established a UN oversight board to divvy up all of the resources mined from the deep seabed and the extended continental shelf for the “common heritage of mankind.”  The International Seabed Authority gets to decide how our revenues from seabed mining are redistributed to “developing” nations.  Moreover, any complaint against the US brought by other member nations, which there undoubtedly would be many, must be decided by the UN authority.   The institution has been around since 1982, but we have been smart enough not to ratify the treaty.

The Obama administration, and not surprisingly, the Chamber of Commerce, are supporting a move towards ratifying LOST.  If ratified, we would be forced to give up much of the royalties from oil drilling off our coasts.  Congressman Jeff Duncan is proposing an amendment to deny any funding for implementation of LOST.  Call your congressmen and request a yes vote on the Duncan amendment.

Finally, Congressman Dennis Rehberg  is proposing an amendment to ensure that the START treaty, shoved down our throats by Obama and RINOs in 2010, will not harm our national security.  Specifically, it would suspend the nuclear weapons reductions prescribed in the treaty unless the President  certifies to Congress that: 1) the Russia Federation must make a commensurate reduction, conversion, or decommissioning pursuant to the levels set forth under such treaty; and 2) Russia is not developing or deploying nuclear delivery systems not covered by New START limits. The amendment also protects all three legs of the nuclear triad from elimination.

Call your member of Congress and request a yes vote on the Rehberg amendment.  We don’t need more treaties that disarm us and infringe upon our sovereignty.