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Afternoon Read: Does McDonnell Have a National Security Problem?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    When discussing Gov. Bob McDonnell’s vice-presidential possibilities, social issues like transvaginal abortions and a voter ID bill often come up as possible showstoppers.

    But Washington Post columnist Marc A. Thiessen pointed out Monday that the Virginia governor may also have a national security problem.

    During the General Assembly session, the legislature passed a bill that would block state agencies and employees—including the Virginia National Guard and state police—from participating in the military detention of a U.S. citizen without trial.

    The Virginia bill came in response to a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 that would allow the military detention of a U.S. citizen without trial.

    According to Thiessen, McDonnell didn’t raise a finger to stop this “odious” legislation but instead issued a statement on passage expressing his “shared concerns that Virginia does not participate in the unconstitutional detention of U.S. citizens.”

    Thiessen wrote:

    "Of course, there have been no “unconstitutional detentions of U.S. citizens” — but instead of pointing this out and opposing the statute, McDonnell gave credence to the false premise that underpins it.

    Former attorney general Ed Meese and former Homeland Security secretary Mike Chertoff wrote McDonnell detailing HB 1160’s many practical dangers and constitutional flaws, and told him, “We strongly urge you to veto the bill.” The governor rejected their advice. McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin told me the governor believes “that terrorist acts against our nation by enemy groups and combatants should be dealt with for what they are — acts of war,” and that an American citizen can be held as an enemy combatant, provided he can challenge his detention in court. But once the bill had been approved by such overwhelming margins, his office says, McDonnell had only three options: veto it (and see his veto overridden) sign it, or amend it. He decided to go along with the bill and amend it with provisions to protect Virginia’s ability cooperate in law enforcement efforts in the war on terror."

    This could have implications for McDonnell’s vice-presidential aspirations as it highlights a potential weakness as would-be leader of the U.S.Senate—say nothing and wait on the sidelines until the legislation gains a veto-proof majority when someone passes “egregious legislation,” Thiessen wrote.

    "Compare McDonnell’s inaction to last week’s fight over terrorist detention legislation on Capitol Hill. When Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) offered an amendment that would have barred military detention for al-Qaeda terrorists captured in the United States, Republican leaders rallied the GOP caucus to defeat the amendment. Thanks to their efforts, only 19 Republicans voted in favor. By contrast, all but four of the 87 elected Republicans in Richmond voted to have the state employees of Virginia lay down their arms in the war against al-Qaeda. That is a failure of leadership. It is also a serious blow to McDonnell’s chances of becoming the next vice president of the United States."

    * Virginians will have a tax holiday from May 25 through May 31 to prep for hurricane season.

    During that time, according to The Washington Examiner, consumers can purchase certain items that cost less than $60 — like batteries, duct tape, cell phone chargers and first aid kits — and avoid paying state and local sales taxes.

    * The first criminal charges in the federal U.S. Attorney investigation of Mayor Vincent Gray's 2010 campaign for D.C. mayor have been filed against Thomas W. Gore, Gray's assistant campaign treasurer.

    He was charged with three counts of making contributions in the names of other people and directing the money to a second campaign, believed to be the campaign of minor candidate Suleiman Brown.

    Read Tom Sherwood’s full story here.

    * Harry Thomas Jr. gave his first interview since he was prosecuted to The Washington Times. In the interview, he had high praise for his likely council replacement, Democrat Kenyan McDuffie.

    “Ward 5 selected an honest broker with no baggage who can move the ward forward,” said Thomas, who said Ward 5’s baton is in good hands for the upcoming budget-balancing act. “He has a clean slate, and we moved in a good direction,” Thomas added. “The ward is in good hands.”

    * Gov. Martin O’Malley will be addressing Democrats in Maine and New Hampshire on June 2, aides confirmed to The Washington Post.

    In New Hampshire he will speak at the convention of the state Democratic Party in the morning.

    In the evening, he will deliver the keynote address at the Maine Democratic Party convention.