A Conflict Without End

As it was made to be in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, war without end. Amen.

House Republicans propose a dangerously expansive new definition of war - It could even apply to domestic threats - It raises the possibility of endless detention for anyone who gets on the wrong side of a future administration.

Osama bin Laden had been dead only a few days when House Republicans began their efforts to expand, rather than contract, the war on terror…

This wildly expansive authorization would, in essence, make the war on terror a permanent and limitless aspect of life on earth, along with its huge potential for abuse.

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It allows the president to detain “belligerents” until the “termination of hostilities,” presumably at a camp like the one in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Since it does not give a plausible scenario of how those hostilities could be considered over, it raises the possibility of endless detention for anyone who gets on the wrong side of a future administration.

The bill, part of the National Defense Authorization Act, was introduced by the committee chairman, Howard McKeon of California, who said it simply aligns old legal authorities with current threats. We’ve heard that before, about wiretapping and torture, and it was always untrue.

These powers are not needed, for current threats, or any other threat. President Obama has not asked for them (though, unfortunately, the administration has used a similar definition of the enemy in legal papers). Under the existing powers, or perhaps ignoring them, President George W. Bush abused his authority for many years with excessive detentions and illegal wiretapping. Those kinds of abuses could range even more widely with this open-ended authorization.

As more than 30 House Democrats protested to Mr. McKeon, a declaration of “global war against nameless individuals, organizations, and nations” could “grant the president near unfettered authority to initiate military action around the world without further Congressional approval.” If a future administration wanted to attack Iran unilaterally, it could do so without having to consult with Congress.

Read the complete piece from The New York Times

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