Obama Urged to Veto Problematic Defense Spending Legislation
Washington, DC – General Joseph P. Hoar, commander in chief of U.S. Central Command from 1991-1994, and General Charles Krulak, commander of the U.S. Marine Corps from 1995-1999, today urged President Obama to veto defense spending legislation that would undermine national security. The two Generals, who co-chair a nonpartisan group of 40 retired generals and admirals concerned about U.S. policy regarding enemy prisoner treatment and detention, raised specific concerns about three sections contained in the Senate version of the defense spending bill. These provisions would authorize the government to imprison people without proof, indefinitely, merely on suspicion of criminality. In addition, the bill as written would potentially eviscerate the crucial role of the FBI and local law enforcement in domestic counterterrorism operations by mandating military custody for a large category of terrorism suspects. “As retired generals and flag officers, we clearly do not make this request lightly,” Generals Hoar and Krulak wrote in a letter to President Obama. “It is clear there is significant disagreement over the impact on our national security of these provisions. There should be no disagreement, however, that legislation which both reduces the options available to our Commander-in-Chief to incapacitate terrorists and violates the rule of law would seriously undermine the safety of the American people.” They concluded, “We appreciate that our leaders are constantly striving to make America more secure, but in doing so, we must be careful not to overreact and overreach, resulting in policies that will do more harm than good. At the very least, these provisions deserve public debate informed by evidence rather than agreed to behind closed doors and tucked into a bill as important as our national defense bill.” Earlier this week, similar concerns were raised by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The full Senate will soon consider the defense bill that came out of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.