WASHINGTON, DC- As promised, President Trump on Wednesday vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, which he called a “gift” to China and Russia, America’s most dangerous threats, and which did not repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields big tech tyrants such as Facebook and Twitter from civil liability, Fox News reported.
“My administration recognizes the importance of the Act to our national security,” President Trump wrote to the House of representatives after denying the bill.
“Unfortunately, the Act fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions.”
The president singled out Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act as one of his reasons for the veto of the bill, saying that by failing to do so, it will “make our intelligence virtually impossible to conduct.”
For those unfamiliar, Section 230 is a shield for internet companies which is not available to other forms of media, such as television and newspapers. It says that the big tech companies, in this case social media companies, are not to be considered publishers or speakers of information which is posted on those sites by third parties.
However, some people, primarily conservatives argue that companies such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others do in fact act as publishers since they censor information through a series of so-called “independent fact checkers.” An overwhelming majority of such censored information is posted by conservative websites.
In fact, Law Enforcement Today has had the ability to post removed by Facebook since last Sunday with no reason given, other than to imply that information posted by our page engaged in “repeated violations against our standards on inauthentic behavior.” No other information was given, and there is no means to appeal this action.
Ironically, Law Enforcement Today in October endorsed President Trump for reelection, after which Facebook “throttled,” or reduced our reach.
As a pro-law enforcement and pro-conservative site, Facebook’s action was clearly retaliatory. This is one of the reasons why the president is looking to have Section 230 protections removed from social media companies.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Section 230 protects such platforms from lawsuits if they allow “controversial” or “critical” speech to be shared by their users. However, individual users are not protected in such a way and are accountable for their own posts.
On December 1, President Trump said that if the NDAA did not include a repeal of Section 230, he would veto it.
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The president also was unhappy with language inside the NDAA which would require “the renaming of certain military installations.”
Under those provisions, the Pentagon would begin a phase out of facilities named after Confederate military figures. Under such a scenario, some of the more famous military bases in the country, such as Fort Bragg, Fort Lee, Fort Benning and Fort Hood would be renamed.
Finally President Trump, who has established a legacy of being the first president in decades to avoid getting the United States involved in a military conflict, also took issue with the fact that within the NDAA it opposes one of his administration’s major foreign policy goals—bringing home more American troops from foreign countries.
For example, the United States has had troops engaged in Afghanistan to no end for nearly twenty years. Trump called the inclusion of such a provision unconstitutional, claiming it violates his authority as commander-in-chief of the military and violates the separation of powers.
“I oppose endless wars, as does the American public. Over bipartisan objections, however, this Act purports to restrict the President’s ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Germany, and South Korea,” Trump continued.
Under the current NDAA, it would allocate around $740 billion in defense spending, as well as 3 percent pay raises for American troops, National Review said.
The NDAA was passed in both the House and Senate by veto-proof margins, with 84 senators voting in favor while in the House, nearly 80 percent of members approved the legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urged the president not to veto the bill, but has already scheduled an override session for December 29.
The typical gaggle of pro-war politicians weighed in on the legislation earlier this month, among them Liz Cheney (R-WY), a typical neo-con.
“We ought to pass the NDAA and the President should not veto it. And we should override it,” Cheney said to CNN in early December.
On the opposite side, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been loudly protesting the passing of the bill, arguing that it doesn’t give the president enough power to withdraw troops from foreign nations.
“They believe that a president has the power to go to war anywhere anytime,” Paul said in speaking of the NDAA’s supporters earlier this month.
“But when a president tries to remove troops, they say ‘Oh no no. What we really want are 535 generals in Congress tell him he can’t have a war.’”
The president has been on a roll the pasts 24 hours, last night sharply criticizing an omnibus spending bill which combined a continuing resolution to operate the federal government with a COVID-19 relief bill.
Trump complained that the bill was a “disgrace” and called for an additional $1400 per American, up to $2000 which were mandated in the legislation.
He also slammed the bill, saying it was laden with pork projects, and he laid out a series of projects from a women’s studies program in Pakistan to border walls in Middle Eastern countries to two new museums on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Those projects were part of the continuing resolution which was tied into the relief bill.
While the president didn’t specifically say he would veto the package, any such action would cause a government shutdown at least temporarily. Despite the talk of gloom and doom if such a shutdown occurs, estimates are that over 70% of the government would remain running.
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Author: Pat Droney