Update (7:10 p.m.): The House just passed the bill. The Associated Press reports, "The vote Wednesday evening was 283-136. In a closed-door meeting, conservative Republicans had expressed some concerns over the provisions, fearing an expanded role for the military in domestic law enforcement." Next stop: the Senate, where the bill is likely to pass. Then, Obama's desk.
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Original Post: Despite some pretty serious-sounding threats, the White House told reporters on Wednesday that President Obama would not be vetoing a controversial defense spending bill. You might not have heard of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which includes some language about how the United States deals with political prisoners. (After all, that other freedom-stomping piece of legislation with a four-letter acronym, SOPA, has been hogging a lot of bandwidth.) Mother Jones's Adam Serwer has kept a close eye, though. Serwer explains in a pretty disappointed-sounding blog post:
As I reported Tuesday, the latest version of the NDAA effectively rendered the provisions "mandating" military custody of non-citizen terrorism suspects arrested on US soil optional. The revised NDAA would make it possible for someone like convicted underwear bomber Umar Abdulmutallab to go from capture to trial without ever passing through military custody.
The administration had said that the military detention provisions of an earlier version of the NDAA are "inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets."
The revised NDAA is still inconsistent with that fundamental American principle. But the administration has decided that principle isn't actually worth vetoing the bill over.
Just because Obama is backing down from his threat does not mean that NDAA will be signed into law. Lawmakers expect to vote on the $622 billion defense spending bill as soon as this week. What people like Serwer are really irked about -- and if you don't believe us, just read some recent tweets -- is the fact that Obama apparently just caved to pressure from lawmakers. On the bright side, at least Congress is getting something done.