The Real Reason for Obama's Threat to Veto the Indefinite Detention Bill (Hint: It's Not to Protect Liberty)

George Washington's picture


I - like everyone else - am horrified by the Senate's passage of legislation that would allow for indefinite detention of Americans.

And at first, I - like many others - assumed that Obama's threat to veto the bill might be a good thing. But the truth is much more disturbing.

As former Wall Street Street editor and columnist Paul Craig Roberts correctly notes:

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. As Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin put it: Should somebody determined “to be a member of an enemy force who has come to this nation or is in this nation to attack us as a member of a foreign enemy, should that person be treated according to the laws of war? The answer is yes.”


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


The November 17 letter to the Senate from the Executive Office of the President says that the Obama regime does not want the authority it has under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Public Law 107-40, to be codified. Codification is risky, the regime says. “After a decade of settled jurisprudence on detention authority, Congress must be careful not to open a whole new series of legal questions that will distract from our efforts to protect the country.”


In other words, the regime is saying that under AUMF the executive branch has total discretion as to who it detains and how it treats detainees. Moreover, as the executive branch has total discretion, no one can find out what the executive branch is doing, who detainees are, or what is being done to them. Codification brings accountability, and the executive branch does not want accountability.


Those who see hope in Obama’s threatened veto have jumped to conclusions if they think the veto is based on constitutional scruples.



Even if Obama's threatened veto was for more noble purposes, the fact is that it would not change anything, because the U.S. government claimed the power to indefinitely detain and assassinate American citizens years ago.

For example, law school professor and National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn pointed out in 2006:

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 governing the treatment of detainees is the culmination of relentless fear-mongering by the Bush administration since the September 11 terrorist attacks.


Because the bill was adopted with lightning speed, barely anyone noticed that it empowers Bush to declare not just aliens, but also U.S. citizens, "unlawful enemy combatants."




Anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on Bush’s list of "terrorist" organizations, or who speaks out against the government’s policies could be declared an "unlawful enemy combatant" and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.

Glenn Greenwald and Fire Dog Lake's Emptywheel have also documented that the White House has believed for many years that it possessed the power to indefinitely detain Americans. See this, this, this, and this.

I noted Friday:

The police state started in 2001.


Specifically, on 9/11, Vice President Dick Cheney initiated Continuity of Government Plans that ended America’s constitutional form of government (at least for some undetermined period of time.)


On that same day, a national state of emergency was declared … and that state of emergency has continuously been in effect up to today.

The Obama administration has also said for more than a year and a half it could target American citizens for assassination without any trial or due process.

In 2005, Chris Floyd pointed out that the ability of the government to assassinate U.S. citizens started the very week of 9/11:

On September 17, 2001, George W. Bush signed an executive order authorizing the use of "lethal measures" against anyone in the world whom he or his minions designated an "enemy combatant." This order remains in force today. No judicial evidence, no hearing, no charges are required for these killings; no law, no border, no oversight restrains them. Bush has also given agents in the field carte blanche to designate "enemies" on their own initiative and kill them as they see fit.


The existence of this universal death squad – and the total obliteration of human liberty it represents – has not provoked so much as a crumb, an atom, a quantum particle of controversy in the American Establishment, although it's no secret.  The executive order was first bruited in the Washington Post in October 2001 .... The New York Times added further details in December 2002. That same month, Bush officials made clear that the dread edict also applied to American citizens, as the Associated Press reported.


The first officially confirmed use of this power was the killing of an American citizen in Yemen by a CIA drone missile on November 3, 2002. A similar strike occurred in Pakistan this month, when a CIA missile destroyed a house and purportedly killed Abu Hamza Rabia, a suspected al Qaeda figure. But the only bodies found at the site were those of two children, the houseowner's son and nephew, Reuters reports. The grieving father denied any connection to terrorism. An earlier CIA strike on another house missed Rabia but killed his wife and children, Pakistani officials reported.


But most of the assassinations are carried out in secret, quietly, professionally, like a contract killing for the mob. As a Pentagon document unearthed by the New Yorker in December 2002 put it, the death squads must be "small and agile," and "able to operate clandestinely, using a full range of official and non-official cover arrangements to…enter countries surreptitiously."


The dangers of this policy are obvious, as a UN report on "extrajudicial killings" noted in December 2004: " Empowering governments to identify and kill 'known terrorists' places no verifiable obligation upon them to demonstrate in any way that those against whom lethal force is used are indeed terrorists… While it is portrayed as a limited 'exception' to international norms, it actually creates the potential for an endless expansion of the relevant category to include any enemies of the State, social misfits, political opponents, or others."


It's hard to believe that any genuine democracy would accept a claim by its leader that he could have anyone killed simply by labeling them an "enemy." It's hard to believe that any adult with even the slightest knowledge of history or human nature could countenance such unlimited, arbitrary power, knowing the evil it is bound to produce. Yet this is what the great and good in America have done. Like the boyars of old, they not only countenance but celebrate their enslavement to the ruler.


[Note from Washington's Blog: 9/11 allowed those who glorify war to implement plans they had lusted after for many years (and see this), even though 9/11 happened because Dick Cheney was - at best - totally incompetent, and the government is now doing things which increase the risk of terrorism, instead of doing the things which could actually make us safer.]




This was vividly demonstrated in ... Bush's State of the Union address in January 2003, delivered to Congress and televised nationwide during the final frenzy of war-drum beating before the assault on Iraq. Trumpeting his successes in the Terror War, Bush claimed that "more than 3,000 suspected terrorists" had been arrested worldwide – "and many others have met a different fate." His face then took on the characteristic leer, the strange, sickly half-smile it acquires whenever he speaks of killing people: "Let's put it this way. They are no longer a problem."


In other words, the suspects – and even Bush acknowledged they were only suspects – had been murdered. Lynched. Killed by agents operating unsupervised in that shadow world where intelligence, terrorism, politics, finance and organized crime meld together in one amorphous, impenetrable mass. Killed on the word of a dubious informer, perhaps: a tortured captive willing to say anything to end his torment, a business rival, a personal foe, a bureaucrat looking to impress his superiors, a paid snitch in need of cash, a zealous crank pursuing ethnic, tribal or religious hatreds – or any other purveyor of the garbage data that is coin of the realm in the shadow world.


Bush proudly held up this hideous system as an example of what he called "the meaning of American justice." And the assembled legislators…applauded. Oh, how they applauded!

This is, of course, the real meaning of the famous Star Wars scene:

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johnjb32's picture

The stench from Washington is overwhelming. -- Michael C. Ruppert

my puppy for prez's picture

This is what the empire-building, global-fascists do NOT want you to see:

Very hard to watch...not for the faint of heart or the willfully ignorant.

steelrules's picture

Powerful, thank you for posting.

forrestdweller's picture

the USA has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world.

between 7 and 8 million people are being held in prison, one in every 32 americans?

let's make a law to keep people detained indefinitely. that is a good plan.

forrestdweller's picture


torture your own citizens.

do it abroad to keep up the illusion that there is no torture in the USA.

call your citizens terrorists just to be able te keep them detained indefinitely.

what a country.

a government should act on behalf of its citizens, not against its citizens.


steelrules's picture

Maybe in the end it's going to be a needed cull. The sad part is patriots will die defending the freedom of these animals.

besnook's picture

obama is threatening veto in a brilliant political move to get something he approves of while being absolved of it's approval. the measure passed by a huge veto proof margin. so when congress over rides the veto obama can safely say he opposed the measure. the reason he gave for opposing the measure(it infringes executive power) is a ploy to prevent the republicans from claiming he is soft on terror. simple as that.

CatoTheElder's picture

@The Laughing Man

The term "police state" as defined in just about any dictionary fits the US pretty well: "a political unit characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to established legal processes". Gas chambers, firing squads, and killing fields are optional, but are not essential to the dictionary definition of police state.

MarketWatchTerrorist's picture

You name yourself after a Roman statesman.  He names himself after something from an obscure Japanese anime pop culture trash from the 1990's.


You write in complete sentences and express coherent thoughts.  He writes in teeny bopper Facebook/text message gibberish and expresses only HURR DURRR.


Don't waste your time on trolls.

Darkness's picture


What would Ron Paul do?

cranky-old-geezer's picture



Geneva convention only applies to soldiers in uniform, not "terrorists", so no, that can't be the reason Obama threatens a veto. 

It's more likely backlash generated by news of this detention bill going viral on the internet.  Obama couldn't handle the embarrassment of signing it with so many people knowing what's in the bill.  He threatens a veto to save face and not further hurt his (poor) re-election chances.

jmc8888's picture

Obama already claims the draconian powers in the bill.  No need to put it on paper, so the idiotic fascist thinking goes in order to CYA.


TheAkashicRecord's picture

The Khmer Rouge Regime in Cambodia, the police state lead by Pinochet in Chile and the Gestapo all used waterboarding. 

But when we do it, it's an enhanced interrogation technique.  Funny, most of these pro-torture folks also claim to abhor the moral relativism they say plagues the Democratic Party.  

xcehn's picture

Yes, and war is now called 'kinetic,' something no doubt inspired by an energy drink.  The nazis were also fond of their euphemisms. Slippery slope.


FlyPaper's picture

I am wondering why individuals submit articles by other authors without identifying them?  George?

Paul Craig Roberts wrote this article.

I'm very happy to have it repeated on Zero, but at least credit the writer!

George Washington's picture

The first half is Mr. Roberts. I properly attributed and linked.

The second half is very different, and isn't in Mr. Roberts' essay.

jeaton's picture

Let me ask a simple question.  If 9/11 was a false flag op perpetrated in order to justify the invasion of Iraq for oil, then why did we not get any of the oil.  And why did we delay and screw around with Afghanistan?  As far as I can tell we did not get any of the Afghans' sand, dirt or camels either.  

And before someone throws out that it was all so that Halliburton could get the contracts to rebuild, I can think of a hundred ways to accomplish this task much more efficiently.  

If you say it was to enrich the weapons manufacturers then this was poorly executed as the "shock and awe" with the expensive fireworks was over in a relatively short time.  If they really wanted to crank up the assembly lines they could have chose a better bit player that could have put on a more convincing act.  

I am sure the tin foil hat brigade will flame away, but I am asking these questions in a sincere fashion.  Where was the payoff?

my puppy for prez's picture

It's NOT "just about oil", although it does factor in.

The overarching agenda is "destableiziing" the entire region in order to move closer to a banker/globalist controlled New World Order.  And don't give me that "tin foil hat" crap!  The bigwigs talk about the NWO in public all the time!

Iraq has allowed the military to establish permanent bases (don't believe the propaganda that we will completely leave Iraq), controlling airspace, starting the domino effect of overthrowing targeted dictatorships who no longer serve the globalists' purpose.

The globalists that run our govt. and military have a lovely global order in mind.  I bet you can't wait!

Dugald's picture

With claims of up to a thousand dollars cost per gallon of fuel delivered etc someone was making a buck.....

Janestool's picture

No the NATO allies got the oil, but what need did we have for NATO after the Cold War ended?

my puppy for prez's picture

It is the nascient form (test run, if you will) for a global military force....getting people used to the idea of trans-sovereign military cooperation.  Also, NATO nations have common political interests to this conquering the world for global dictatorship.

saiybat's picture

This is appeal to belief. What does what we get in return for war have to do with whether 9/11 was a false flag or not? Here's a historical example that's contrary to what you just said; the British Empire and what did the average Englishman get? Since the British Empire was huge and in control of many resources you would think there was prosperity and spoils of war for the average person. They didn't get shit and were for the most part in poverty.

Here's a short background on living conditions at the height of the British empire. Life in Britain was so bad it led to the largest mass emigration in history.




jomama's picture

There were (are) geodemographic, political manipulation 'advantages' to set up shop in iraq.  To say that we didn't get the oil is a fallacy, as one of the main reasons the US went in is because Saddam said he will start trading oil in Euros. So in essence, yes, we did get the oil there, regardless of which contractor and their mercanaries are benefitting the most.  

The MIC is also not known for being efficient.  Nor is that even remotely their aim. Ever.

TheAkashicRecord's picture

I follow your line of logic and tend to agree with you there, but I also think that the "payoff" may not have happened yet and we are analyzing things on too short of a time-frame.   

A Lunatic's picture

The purpose of war is to waste resources; human, environmental and monetary while justifying the ever increasing scope of an unconstitutional standing army. Efficiency never enters the equation. The rich get richer.

jeaton's picture

I don't think that I can buy the "to waste resources" logic as an end unto itself.  A power grab is a feasible theory, so lets follow it a bit.  Who got more power than they already had and to what benefit?  I am open to the idea that the Patriot Act, etc. expanded the powers of the Federal gov, but again, to what end.  If you say the rich got richer, then by what means? 

I am willing to "follow the money," but not in a circular logic fashion like a dog chasing his tail.  Who got richer, appreciably richer?  Please note that I am somewhat suspect of the "follow the money" theory, as it implies that no one does anything from a growth and benevolence perspective.  There are other ways to make a buck.  

Again, bear with me.  I am sincerely curious.   

my puppy for prez's picture

To what end?

The endgame is a loss of sovereignty for ALL countries and a new global government!  This is NOT hard to understand and is supportable by a sea of documentation!

A Lunatic's picture

I do not belive the wasting of resources to be the end goal. I merely state that war need not be efficient; in fact it is more profitable for the war mongers if it is not. There is not one country on the planet that we could not turn into glass with the simple push of a button. Cheap, efficient, quick and easy. But what would happen to the small arms trade? The war against the illegal trafficking of small arms? The ammo depots? Etc. infinity. Who would need to make the loans? Wars cost money. Bankers have money. Politicians are whores. Whores sell out for more money. Money is addictive. Addicts are trapped in a life of circular reasoning. Yes there are other (legitimate) ways to make a buck.

jeaton's picture

I follow you.  Maybe it is easier to contemplate if one starts with the concept of the "war on drugs." 

Those that get to decide the allocation of resources are not as prone to look at the process as wasteful. 

YHC-FTSE's picture

Let me add something to that answer.

Why did we not get any oil? Do you see Iraqi companies drilling in Iraq, or are they American? Control the production of crude, you control the wholesale price. Control the refineries, you control the retail price. If you know anything about the merchantile exchanges, you would know that controlling the price of commodities is much more profitable than owning a few million barrels. 


If you could think of a hundred ways for Halliburton to get more contracts with all the public scrutiny that attracted in Iraq, then I am sure they will hire you with open arms. The lobbyists for the weapons manufacturers would also be delighted to have someone of your calibre show them the complex political dance of representatives in a bidding war of their own to entice military money to their areas, against the backdrop of the Pentagon's budgetary constraints, bids, offers and rate of expenditure. Show them how you could "crank up the assembly lines" even more, and I am sure they will be properly impressed. 


If I was simple and new to the world, I'd probably be asking the same questions, so I am taking it easy on a newbie. Try getting your news from any other source than the msm, and in a few short years/months (depending on your learning curve) you'll come back and realize what almost everyone here is talking about. 

xcehn's picture

The change Obama believes in amounts to the totalitarian police state.

A Lunatic's picture

It was like that when he got there.

xcehn's picture

And he's made it much worse despite his campaign pledges to turn away from the bush-cheney edicts.

nothing can go wrogn's picture

Don't mean to digress here....but who the hell did Natalie Portman get a job as an "actress?" I've never seen someone so flat and uninspiring behind a camera.

She's got the cute lil' preppy cheerleader face...but come on? I'm not buying it.

YHC-FTSE's picture

If America of liberty, freedom, and truth ever existed, and some doubt it ever did, it is now dead. It is an ex-parrot. 

I am only telling you this as a friend. The kind of friend who tells you the truth, the way things are, even though it hurts for your own good before something terrible happens. America is a corporatist fascist state at perpetual war for profit for the elites and the spooks. The days of anti-war heroes, the John Denver songs, and the reflective conscience of intelligent people are long gone - they are all dead. In fact, in places like Australia, beautiful American anti-war songs are used to excuse and justify America's warmongering ways by the Murdoch press.

I reflect on the US with great sadness - a mad, violent, lying, grabbing, desperate debtor with delusions of grandeur and dreams of cruelty for whatever it deems "wrong", the nature and definition of which changes with the seasons. Somedays, I almost pray for an ambulance to take America away to a mental institution where it cannot harm others or itself. 

videopro's picture

While everyone debates whether we have a police state or not, the Los Angeles Police Department already has an answer to your question

See what it is here:

Flocking swans's picture

OR.... an unknown anarchist movement pops up and shoots some cops, a mall santa, and steals the baby jeebus off the courthouse lawn....then you know he'd just have to sign it... to save xmas...

Maybe even with a good ol 'signing statement' on the back of the bill getting rid of those pesky Geneva 'issues'...

Grinder74's picture

That Star Wars clip could be used for the passing of Obamacare too.  Sure was a lot of applause going on during that raping of our liberties.

Richard Head's picture

Yet another example of why Obama is dangerous and must be ejected from the Oval Office.  I thought I'd be surprised that McCain's fingerprints are all over this too, but he has gone looney over the last 7-8 (?) years.  I fully expected Sen. Levin to be involved in this atrocity though.

A Lunatic's picture

Terrorism is a STRATEGY.  The ultimate goal of course has nothing to do with fighting "terror" but to broaden the scope and definition of bogeyman (terrorist) until it encompasses any who are not enthusiastically supportive of everything this fascist government decides to do, now or ever.  There is absolutely no law whatever that can prevent someone from committing the most heinous atrocities known to man today, tomorrow, or sometime next week. If the law were sufficient to prevent Evil we should all be living in Utopia........not the next Ethiopia.

The Heart's picture

3. "It must be noted that men with bad instincts are more in number than the good, and therefore the best results in governing them are attained by violence and terrorisation, and not by academic discussions. Every man aims at power, everyone would like to become a dictator if only he could, and rare indeed are the men who would not be willing to sacrifice the welfare of all for the sake of securing their own welfare."


Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion--Protocol 1

pods's picture

No wonder you are called A Lunatic, I understand and agree entirely.

Yet all the "sane" people will throw themselves at the feet of authority begging for security.

Well, not sane, but I think you know what I am saying.


Pitchman's picture

It is only a mater of time when some joystick cowboy in Nevada starts taking out American's right here in the good old USA...  USA. USA. USA!!!  911 Patriotism morphs into blood lust.  Sick. sick world!

The Disappearance of Chivalry - George Santayana & Murder By Joystick

Dugald's picture

Chivalry died when men began hiding inside tin suits, and it has been all down hill since, if only we could deal life with the innovation and speed with which we are able to deal destruction.