President Obama used his veto power on Thursday to reject the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2016. The NDAA is the annual military budget and has recently been the subject of much debate.
Critics, including Obama, say the bill would limit the transfer of detainees from the military prison at Guantamano Bay, Cuba to the United States. As a result of the veto the White House has said they will use an emergency overseas contingency operations account to cover the shortfall until an agreement is reached.
“The president believes that the men and women who serve in our armed forces deserve adequate and responsible funding, not through a gimmick or not through a slush fund but one that would — could withstand scrutiny,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.
President Obama is calling for non-defense and defense spending limits to be raised while the majority of Republicans want to raise limits for defense but not for non-defense spending. President Obama seeks to raise both areas to around $38 billion.
Just days before the veto Senator John McCain criticized the president. “It is a dangerous move for [Obama] to veto the NDAA. We need 21st-century weapons, not last century,” McCain said.
Obama has also stated that he opposes limits on how to transfer Guantanamo prisoners. One of the early promises of Obama’s presidential campaign was shutting down the infamous prison. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 657 prisoners have been transferred while 9 have died.
Despite President Obama’s current posturing, he had no problem signing the NDAA in 2012 which legalized the indefinite detention of American citizens suspected of ties to terrorism. Without a doubt Guantanamo Bay is a despicable prison and needs to be shut down. Many of the detainees have been cleared of any wrong doing yet remain imprisoned without a trial.
However, when you look closer at what Obama is doing, you see he is actually voting in line with the rest of the war hawks. He is not demanding the military budget be cut, or that the United States begin winding down the global American empire. No, President Obama is simply asking for more money to continue to launch wars of aggression based on lies and fear.
There is one more problem with the NDAA 2016 that will not be covered by the corporate media. The current edition of the NDAA will continue to involve the United States in the conflict in eastern Ukraine by offering lethal aid to the Ukrainians fighting off Russia’s advances in Crimea.
Section 1251 of the Senate version of the bill authorizes the Department of Defense to “provide security assistance and intelligence support to military and other security forces of the government of Ukraine.”
Section 1253 “requires DOD to report to Congress on options for expanding the presence of U.S. ground forces of the size of a Brigade Combat Team in Eastern Europe to respond to the security challenges posed by Russia and increase the combat capability of forces able to respond to unconventional or hybrid warfare tactics such as those used by the Russian Federation in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.”
Section 1532 of the House bill gives the DOD permission to “provide assistance and sustainment to the military and national security forces of Ukraine through FY2016, including providing lethal weapons of a defensive nature to the security forces of Ukraine.”
So while the media focuses on the battle between the White House and the Republicans, take note that all of the current versions of the NDAA 2016 will continue the proxy-war between the United States and Russia, and possibly accelerate the push towards outright conflict.