NDAA Blocks Guam Buildup Funding; But Faces Veto If Terrorist Detention Provisions Not Removed

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Guam – Virgina Senator Jim Webb is praising passage of the Senate’s version of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act which bars any further funding for the Guam military buildup.

In a release, Senator Webb says the NDAA includes provisions he championed, including a prohibition on any further “authorization of funds for the realignment of Marine Corps forces from Okinawa to Guam until the Commandant of the Marine Corps provides an updated force lay-down. The Secretary of Defense must submit a master plan to Congress detailing construction costs and schedule of all projects necessary to realize the Commandant’s force lay-down and certify to Congress that tangible progress has been made to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.”

The NDAA also includes a requirement, introduced by Senator John McCain, that would require a commission to study the U.S. Force posture in East Asia and the Pacific region. Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo has called the commission “unnecessary and may have significant negative implications on our national security.”

The House version of the NDAA, passed in May. Unlike the Senate version, it includes about $303 million for build-up related construction on Guam.

Now a House-Senate conference committee must reconcile the differences.

The Senate passed the NDAA overwhelmingly in the Senate, by a vote of 93 to 7. But there is an un-related provision in the bill that may lead to some changes. That provision is contained within Subtitle D, which deals with “counter-terrorism”. It would allow the U.S. military to indefinitely detain anyone, including US citizens, on home soil, without having to guarantee a trial.

The Obama Administration has already warned that it will veto the NDAA if that provision remains in the bill. And while Senator Webb voted for the NDAA, he too cautioned against that provision warning “against allowing [the] military to detain American citizens inside our borders.”

Senator Webb co-sponsored an amendment that would have removed that provision, but it was defeated.

In his release, Senator Webb states: “I am very concerned about the protection of our own citizens and our legal residents as a result of military action taken inside our country. There are serious Constitutional issues at play in this matter, and there is a long and uncomfortable history among other countries that have taken this kind of approach.  We need to be very clear. We must very narrowly define how the military would be used and–quite frankly–if they should be used at all inside our borders.”

READ Senator Webb’s release on the NDAA below:

Senator Webb: Defense Bill Supports Troops, Enhances Strategic Posture in East Asia

Strongly warns against allowing military to detain American citizens inside our borders

Washington, DC—Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) today reiterated his support for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012, which passed the Senate last night by a vote of 93 to 7.

“The Senate’s passage of the defense authorization bill for the fiftieth consecutive year demonstrates a strong bipartisan commitment to supporting our troops, their families, and critical defense programs,” Senator Webb said. “As chairman of the Personnel Subcommittee, I am proud of the efforts that were made in order to improve the quality of life of the men and women of our all-volunteer force and their families, as well as civilian employees.”

The legislation authorizes a 1.6 percent across-the-board pay raise for all members of the uniformed services and requires hostile fire and imminent danger pay to be prorated according to the number of days spent in a qualifying area rather than payment on a monthly basis. The bill also limits the annual increases of TRICARE Prime enrollment fees to the amount equal to the percentage increase in retired pay beginning October 1, 2012, which is lower than the administration’s original proposal.

The legislation includes several provisions championed by Senator Webb relating to Department of Defense (DoD) plans to restructure U.S. military forces in East Asia. The bill prohibits the authorization of funds for the realignment of Marine Corps forces from Okinawa to Guam until the Commandant of the Marine Corps provides an updated force lay-down. The Secretary of Defense must submit a master plan to Congress detailing construction costs and schedule of all projects necessary to realize the Commandant’s force lay-down and certify to Congress that tangible progress has been made to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.  The bill also requires that DoD study the feasibility of relocating Air Force assets at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa and moving Marine Corps aviation assets on Okinawa to Kadena Air Base rather than building an expensive replacement facility elsewhere on the island.

“There is a unique situation that exists at this moment in terms of the vital interests that we have as the key balancing force in Asia,” said Senator Webb, whose long-standing interaction with the region spans more than 40 years. “These recommendations were the product of a great deal of consideration based on many years of thought and study that began with my time in the Pacific as a military planner in the 1970s, and includes two visits to Tokyo, Okinawa, Guam, and Tinian within the past two years. These recommendations are workable, cost-effective, will reduce the burden on the Okinawan people, and will strengthen the American contribution to the security of the region.”

During debate on the bill this week, Senator Webb warned against provisions that would allow broadly-defined military operations inside the United States, and especially a provision allowing the military to apprehend and indefinitely detain American citizens inside our borders, warning strongly of the potential for their misuse during a time of emergency. Senator Webb co-sponsored an amendment that would have removed these provisions, but it was not adopted.

“I am very concerned about the protection of our own citizens and our legal residents as a result of military action taken inside our country,” said Senator Webb. “There are serious Constitutional issues at play in this matter, and there is a long and uncomfortable history among other countries that have taken this kind of approach.  We need to be very clear. We must very narrowly define how the military would be used and–quite frankly–if they should be used at all inside our borders.”

The Senate-passed bill mandates a reduction of more than $26 billion from the administration’s defense budget request to terminate troubled, wasteful, or unnecessary programs and activities, as well as to reduce other defense expenditures in light of the nation’s budget-deficit problems

an earlier bill passed by the House of Representatives included about $303 million for military-related construction on Guam.