Did Senator McCain Violate NDAA by Hanging Out with Syrian Rebels?
In case you missed it, Senator John McCain took the opportunity this Memorial Day to cross the Turkey-Syria border and hang out with Syrian rebels. These are the same rebels with ties to Al Qaeda. These are the same rebels cutting out and eating the hearts of dead soldiers. According to reports, Senator McCain wanted to go further into combat but was not allowed.
And he calls us wacko-birds.
The consequences of Senator McCain’s calls to intervene in Syria and meddle further in a civil war could be quite grave, as Russia is sending anti-aircraft missiles to the Syrian regime. The use of chemical weapons has been reported – although it’s unsure which side is using them – with more attacks reported over the weekend.
There are further reports that most of our aid to the region is going to “hard-line Islamic jihadists.” In fact, the same day President Obama announced our recognition of the opposition, rebel groups across Syria signed a petition pledging allegiance to the Jihad and asking America by name not to intervene. It’s hard to imagine that twelve years after 9/11, Senator McCain would be calling for US foreign and military aid be given to “the Jihad.”
For more on the consequences of meddling in other countries’ civil wars in general, see my post here at United Liberty.
Interestingly enough, this is the same Senator McCain who championed NDAA 2012, which gives our government the right to indefinitely detain Americans for doing exactly what he did: supporting elements aligned with al-Qaeda. The provision from Section 1021 is as follows:
“Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”
We should remember that Senator McCain fought Senator Rand Paul a year later (in December 2012) to keep that language in the law. What’s more, Senator McCain worked to throw out the Lee-Feinstein amendment that would have protected citizens from unlawful detention. The amendment declared:
“An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention.”
In a December 2012 statement about this Amendment, Senator Paul blamed Senator McCain for killing the amendment:
“The decision by the NDAA conference committee, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to strip the National Defense Authorization Act of the amendment that protects American citizens against indefinite detention now renders the entire NDAA unconstitutional.”
Paul went on:
“When the government can arrest suspects without a warrant, hold them without trial, deny them access to counsel or admission of bail, we have shorn the Bill of Rights of its sanctity.”
For more on NDAA 2012, see this video from Reason TV.
So in an interesting twist, by meeting with and lending comfort to Syrian rebels aligned with al Qaeda, Senator McCain is validating their actions, and could be indefinitely detained by the very law he fought to uphold. He can’t have this both ways. Either the law should be altered – I recommend repealing AUMF in its entirety – or he should cease and desist with his activity with the Syrian rebels. Otherwise, we live in a country with one set of laws for the lawmakers, and another for the rest of us.