Washington, D.C.—With today’s Senate passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, the Center for American Progress released “Terrorist Detainee Rules Are Not McCarthyist: Defense Authorization Act Does Not Establish Military Detention in the U.S.,” CAP Action’s “Defense Bill Puts New Conditions on How U.S. Delivers Aid to Pakistan,” and “Congress’s Sanction Push Could Threaten Obama’s International Coalition on Iran,” to address the substance and practical effect of these three most controversial provisions.
In “Terrorist Detainee Rules Are Not McCarthyist: Defense Authorization Act Does Not Establish Military Detention in the U.S.,” Ken Gude, CAP’s Managing Director of the National Security and International Policy, argues that the detainee provisions in this bill do not establish indefinite military detention authority for anyone captured in the United States. Though seriously flawed, the detainee provisions do not represent a return to the “McCarthy era,” as some civil liberties and human rights groups claim. Congress has already recognized President Barack Obama’s discretionary power to interpret detention authority, and the president’s clear message that he does not want military detention in the United States.
The NDAA will, however, bring with it new conditions on how the United States provides assistance to Pakistan through the two primary Pakistan-specific military aid accounts controlled by the Department of Defense—Coalition Support Funds, or CSF, and the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund, or PCF. In “Defense Bill Puts New Conditions on How U.S. Delivers Aid to Pakistan,” Colin Cookman explains that despite tense U.S.-Pakistani relations and congressional patience with Pakistan clearly wearing thin, the conditions in the Defense Authorization bill are actually rather muted. Appropriations bills may yet introduce certification requirements, but even when this money is appropriated, it’s an open question how much the United States will actually be able to spend given the ejection of almost all U.S. trainers from the country at the beginning of the year.
Several new provisions contained in the NDAA relate to the U.S. policy on Iran, including controversial new sanctions involving the Central Bank of Iran, or CBI. According to the language contained in this legislation, President Obama would be authorized to impose sanctions directly on the CBI, but does not require him to do so. It does require that the president impose sanctions on foreign banks that do business with the CBI, effectively barring them from doing business in the United States. Some wiggle room is provided, like the 120 day waiver measure, but as Peter Juul explains in “Congress’s Sanction Push Could Threaten Obama’s International Coalition on Iran,” on Think Progress, President Obama is not afforded the necessary flexibility to conduct the delicate diplomacy required to isolate Iran. Congress should allow the president to use the tools necessary to maintain the international coalition and hold Iran accountable for its actions and omissions. By imposing these sanctions, Congress is undermining President Obama’s Iran policy by undercutting painstaking diplomatic action.
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