Congress approves $662-billion defense spending bill

The measure clears the Senate despite misgivings about provisions requiring military detention of some terrorism suspects and new sanctions on Iran.

  • Representative Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, speaks at a news conference today with other Republican representatives following the passage of a $662 billion defense authorization bill for 2012.
Representative Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, (R-Calif.), chairman… (Rich Clement / Bloomberg)
December 15, 2011|  By Kathleen Hennessey, Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Ending a weeks-long tangle with the White House, Congress approved a sweeping defense bill Thursday that includes controversial provisions on handling detainees accused of terrorism and tough new sanctions on Iran.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 passed the Senate on a 86-13 vote, a solid show of support that belied the considerable opposition and debate behind it.

Several Democrats said they voted for the bill — which sets Pentagon policy, authorizes $662 billion in spending and gives service members a pay raise — despite their concerns about the detainee provisions. President Obama initially said he would veto the legislation, but he withdrew the threat after the White House said it was satisfied with revisions made in negotiations this week between the House and Senate.

The final compromise mandates that terrorism suspects thought to have ties to Al Qaeda and planning attacks against the United States be taken into military custody, even those captured in the U.S. In response to some complaints, though, the bill carves out an exemption for U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

The bill also allows the military to indefinitely detain terrorism suspects accused of having ties to Al Qaeda, the Taliban or forces engaged in hostilities against the U.S. That provision specifies that such power cannot be applied to U.S. citizens captured in the U.S.

Supporters of the detainee provisions said they were necessary to improve rapid intelligence gathering and interrogation in the moments after a suspect is captured, which might be hindered if the suspect were held by civilian authorities.

“No member of Al Qaeda, no terrorist, should ever hear the words, ‘You have the right to remain silent,’ ” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)

Civil liberties groups and some Democrats raised concerns that the provisions could be used to trample on citizens’ right to due process in U.S. courts.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she wondered why some of the changes were necessary, given the successful detention of terrorism suspects in U.S. prisons and trial in court.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Feinstein, who introduced separate legislation aimed at affirming citizens’ due process rights. Feinstein voted for the bill, as did Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

The legislation also extends for another year a ban on transferring prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay and on the use of Pentagon money to build facilities in the U.S. to house such prisoners.

The U.S. continues to hold about 2,500 people suspected of being Al Qaeda, Taliban or associated force fighters in detention centers around the world, according to an update Obama provided in a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday. Guantanamo Bay is holding 170 detainees, the president said.

The legislation also faced resistance from the administration over the Iran sanctions, politically popular efforts that sailed through the Senate. The new provisions, introduced by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), will penalize financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank, particularly for the purchase of oil and oil products.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said the sanctions could alienate allies and ultimately undermine U.S. efforts to build international pressure on Iran. South Korea and Japan, big consumers of Iranian oil, already have begun seeking waivers to any U.S. sanctions.

On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the administration was still studying the legislation.

kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

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About RICK MILLER

Hello, my name is Rick Miller, welcome to comprehensive photography. In the name 'comprehensive', means to have a pretty solid grasp about the art of contemporary photography, and how the tools (both hardware and software) are all used together to produce a very precious product to meet your needs. Photography simply means that we are able to capture an image through the use of light and film, or, by using digital chips in very sophisticated cameras. My guess is that you "GOOGLED" something about photography to find us here on this website (don't you love Goggle?). I live in Santa Rosa and Eureka, California, about 40 miles (Eureka is a bit further north) north of the golden gate bridge with my wife Pat and our two boys — Ben, and Jeremy. My daughter, Sarah, is grown and lives in Portland Oregon. I am strictly a digital photographer, although I have purchased thousands of rolls of Fugi ASA 400 (now called ISO, the digital cameras auto-correction, for light compensation). Our negatives are all digitized and burned onto a DVD. I've been shooting digital for over five years, with my previous 28 working for AT&T (in digital transport via fiber, DS1, and DS3) — during which time I was a manager in charge of 911, and all "First Responder" communications, for 5 years. I shoot mostly with Canon products — my two camera bodies, and all my lenses are Canon. I edit in a variety of software. Adobe Lightroom and I use Apple's "Aperture" (I'm a Mac person), "Light Room" and "Adobe CS4 Extended". These are tough economic times, anyone out of work and financial issues knows what I mean. I also know how important it is to document special times in our personal lives, without costing a lot. I love working with you, and creating a quality product that will best capture those special moments in time forever. So don't let these tough times stop you from documenting YOUR special times, let's get together and make memories. Have you ever been feeling a little low and maybe started thinking of someone special, and then gone to a photo album or watched a slide show and re-filled your heart with joy? It is truly worth it. This website is growing very fast, it is meant for business but it is also meant for fun (Thank You Rod Remelin). Please feel free to shoot me an E-Mail, and tell me what you like, hate or feel indifferent about. Thank You for being here Sincerely Rick Miller

Posted on December 22, 2011, in NEWS, PHOTOJOURNALISM, POLITICS, US ECONOMY, WORLD ECONOMY and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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