Congress passes the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013; highlights include lots of money for other countries, a continuation of indefinite detention, Christmas gifts given to Northrup Grumman and other campaign contributors, and rules will finally apply to defense contracting. All that and more in this summary of 2013’s NDAA…
Money to Other Countries
– (Section 222) $211 million to Israel for IRON SHEILD, their missile defense system
– (Section 1211) $508 million for Iraq.
– (Section 1219) $350 million for infrastructure in Afghanistan.
– (Section 1222) $250 million for equipment (“excess defense articles”) in Afghanistan, no caps in 2013 and 2014.
– (Section 1227) Authorizes up to $1.2 billion in payments to Pakistan, but they get no money for time when they close supply routes into Afghanistan to the US military. Pakistan also needs to hunt al Qaeda and try to stop IEDs to get money. All limitations can be waived if the Defense Secretary says in writing that they need to be.
– (Section 1203) Gives Defense Secretary authority to use $75 million for equipment, supplies, training, and minor military construction in Yemen to fight al Qaeda and al Qaeda affiliates and another $75 million for the same thing in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
– (Section 1010) Continuation of drug war in Columbia. No amount given.
– (Section 527) REPORT: due in 6 months, reasons drone operators have “persistently lower average education, training, and promotion rates” and how to improve those rates.
– (Section 211) Requirement that next-generation aircraft be able to transport and use nuclear weapons within 2 years of the aircraft’s completion.
Rep. Jerold Nadler of Colorado:
As a Nation, no matter what adversity we have faced we have done so as Americans. We have united behind the values and freedoms that gave birth to this Nation and that have made it a moral force in the world. In the last decade, however, we have begun to let go of our freedoms bit by bit, with each new Executive order, each new court decision, and yes, each new act of Congress. We have begun giving away our right to privacy, our right to our day in court when the government harms us, and with this legislation we are continuing down the path of destroying the right to be free from imprisonment without due process of law. The conference report states that:
Nothing in the Authorization for Use of Military Force or the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012 shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus or to deny any constitutional rights in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution to any person inside the United States who would be entitled to the availability of such writ or to such rights in the absence of such laws.
This language simply continues the flawed policies established in the 2011 defense authorization bill. First, it applies only to ‘‘any person inside the United States.” That is important, but most of the debate on indefinite detention without charge and on the lack of due process has to do with people held by our government outside our borders—including, potentially, U.S. citizens. The language in this bill, combined with the prohibitions against moving these detainees into the United States, guarantees that we will continue holding people indefinitely without charge—contrary to our traditions of due process and civil rights. Second, this text continues the claimed authority of the United States Government to hold even U.S. persons captured on United States soil indefinitely and without charge. Some people may take comfort in the provision that states that those of us entitled to certain rights prior to the passage of the AUMF and of last year’s defense authorization bill continue to have the same rights afterwards. But this bill does not say who among us are fortunate enough to have those rights, nor does it tell us what those rights might be. It does not specify how the executive branch is to determine which of us are entitled to these constitutional protections and which of us are not. And it does not provide us with recourse if the President gets it wrong.
The Exact Text
“SEC. 1029. RIGHTS UNAFFECTED.
Nothing in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) or the National Defense Authoriza-tion Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112–81) shall be construed to deny the avail-ability of the writ of habeas corpus or to deny any Constitutional rights in a court or-dained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution to any person inside the United States who would be entitled to the availability of such writ or to such rights in the absence of such laws.”
– (Section 1022) Prohibits updating U.S. facilities to house Guantanamo detainees, except at Guantanamo.
– (Section 1027) Prohibits the transfer of prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay.
– (Section 1025) Orders the Defense Secretary to tell Congress when it plans to transfer someone out of the Detention Facility at Parwan, Afghanistan (Bagram Theatre Internment Facility). Must tell Congress 10 days before the transfer.
- Parwan is a building built next door to Bagram; it’s essentially the same place
- People were tortured there during the Bush administration at Bagram.
- Detainees have no access to courts at Bagram as they do at Guantanamo. Prisoners that have been held in both jails said that Bagram was worse.
- More people than Guantanamo (1,700 as of June 2011). This number has doubled during the Obama administration.
- In March, US started transferring hundreds of Afghani prisoners to Afghanistan authority but recently stopped. We are holding on to non-Afghani and a few Afghani prisoners because we’re afraid that Afghanistan and/or the prisoner’s home country will not detain them indefinitely like we will.
– (Section 1024) Orders the Defense Secretary to tell Congress within 30 days when it detains a person on a ship.
“SEC. 1233. SENSE OF CONGRESS WITH RESPECT TO IRAN.
It is the sense of Congress that the United States should be prepared to take all nec-essary measures, including military action if required, to prevent Iran from threatening the United States, its allies, or Iran’s neigh-bors with a nuclear weapon.
SEC. 1234. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.
Nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran.”
– (Section 1244) More sanctions against Iran’s national oil companies because “Iran’s energy, shipping, and ship-building sectors and Iran’s ports are facili-tating the Government of Iran’s nuclear pro-liferation activities by providing revenue to support proliferation activities.”
- In 4 months, all transactions involving Iran’s oil, shipping, or ship-building sectors will be prohibited. Specifically, goods used in connection with the National Iranian Oil Company, National Iranian Tanker Company, and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines ( – Can be waived if these goods are going to help with reconstruction in Afghanistan.
- Doesn’t apply to the sale, supply, or transfer to or from Iran of natural gas.
- Sanctions on materials such as graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, and industrial software.
- Sanctions on anyone who insures the sanctioned companies.
– (Section 1046) REPORT: In 4 months, a report on “the feasibility and strategic value of deploying additional conventional and nuclear forces to the Western Pacific region to ensure the presence of a robust conventional and nuclear capability, including a forward-deployed nuclear capability, of the United States in response to the ballistic missile and nuclear weapons developments of North Korea and the other belligerent actions North Korea has made against allies of the United States”
– (Section 1045) REPORT: By August 15, 2013, DoD needs to give Congress a report on “the underground tunnel network used by the People’s Republic of China with respect to the capability of the United States to use conventional and nuclear forces to neutralize such tunnels and what is stored within such tunnels” and an assessment of their nuclear capabilities.
Total for National Defense: $648,676,712,000, which is more than was requested.
Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts:
“I would like to insert into the RECORD an article that appeared in to-day’s Washington Post by Walter Pincus, entitled, ‘‘Military funds to spare?,” in which he quotes Secretary of Defense Panetta in a speech. He said that the committees here in the Con-gress ‘‘had diverted about $74 billion of what we asked for in savings in our proposed budget to the Congress, and they diverted them to other areas that, frankly, we don’t need.” That is from the Secretary of Defense.”
$500 million given to continue the Global Hawk Block 30, which are long range drones manufactured by Northrup Grumman.
- The Pentagon had decided to risk terminating this version of Global Hawk (there are others in use and being built) and noted that it would save $800 million in fiscal 2013 and $2.5 billion over the next five years.
- It’s a sole-source contract with Northrop and its team of subcontractors as the only contenders. The scale is worldwide.
- Northrup’s website lists the Global Hawk’s suppliers along with the names of their representatives in Congress.
- Manufactured by General Dynamics
- “The Pentagon, facing smaller budgets and looking toward a new global strategy, wants to save as much as $3 billion by freezing refurbishing work on the M1 from 2014 to 2017, so it can redesign the vehicle from top to bottom.
- The flat bottom design makes these tanks especially vulnerable to improvised explosive devices.
- “Its proposal would idle a large factory in Lima, Ohio, as well as halt work at dozens of subcontractors in Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states.”
- General Dynamics is the 4th largest contributor to the campaign of Lima, Ohio’s Congressman, Jim Jordan
- Since the start of 2001, General Dynamics’ political action committee and the company’s employees have given at least $5.3 million to the current members of the four key defense committees
- General Dynamics spent at least $84 million over the past 11 years on lobbyists
Regulations For Contractors
– (Section 843) Establishment of a chain of authority for contractors.
- Within one year, DoD needs to identify a chain of authority, a policy on what functions contractors are appropriate for, how the contractors will coordinate with DoD officials, and how contractors will be supervised.
– (Section 832) Defense Contract Audit Agency will be able to look at contractor internal audits to determine to what extent they’ll be allowed to police themselves.
– (Section 851) Database on contractor performance.
– (Section 844) REPORTS: DoD needs to collect information on the number of active contracts, the value of those contracts, if the contracts were competitively bid, the number of people working under each contract, how many contractors are performing security functions, and the total number of contractors killed.
– (Section 941) Contractors must report to the DoD when their system has been hacked.
– (Section 4805) Make contractor performance evaluations public
Mission Appropriateness of Contractors
– (Section 846) No later than 6 months after the planning begins for a combat operation, a risk assessment needs to be done on the operational and political risks of using contractors for critical functions.
– The risk assessment can be skipped if the operation is “not expected to continue for more than one year” and the contracts are expected to be less than $250 million.
– (Section 802) 6 months, regulation that says if a contractor intends to subcontract more than 70% of the work, the contracting officer needs to consider just directly contracting with the subcontractor and explaining in writing the reason for his decision.
– (Section 811) Cost-type contracts will be prohibited at DoD starting on October 1, 2014.
– (Section 831) Training for acquisition managers on determining reasonableness of prices
– (Section 804) REPORT: Change guidelines, within 6 months, on contractor profits to “ensure an appropriate link between contractor profit and contractor performance.”
– (Section 864) REPORT: Effect of prohibiting payment of contractor salaries that are more than we pay the President of the United States ($400,000)
– (Section 803) Contract funding (Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund) = $500 million in 2013, $800 million in 2014, $700 million in 2015, $600 million in 2016, $500 million in 2017
Misc. Good Things
– (Section 1803) Federal grants to firefighters between $1-$9 million each depending on the size of the population served.
– (Section 601) 1.7% pay raise for service members effective January 1
– (Section 622) Authorizes a space-available travel program for armed service members
- If Secretary decides to do it, he has one year to decide the rules.
– (Section 523) Sex offenders no longer allowed to enlist in the military
– (Section 954) Gives authority to Defense Secretary to create a National Language Service Corps of nongovernmental people who can be called up to help the DoD with foreign language services.
– (Section 541) Authorizes a Troops to Teachers program: Eligible military retirees can become teachers in low income neighborhoods with teacher shortages
- Eligibility: must have completed at least 6 years of active duty and sign a reserve commitment for 3 years. Must have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Bonus: Capped at $5,000 for regular school, $10,000 high need school, which they need to pay back if they don’t finish their 3 years.
- $15 million cap on entire program
– (Section 729) Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to start a national outreach program to societies, community organizations, non-profit organizations, and other government agencies to give mental health care to veterans part time, for free.