indefinite detention

NDAA passes the Senate

The last hope of killing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has failed as the United States Senate effectively gutted Habeas Corpus and Due Process protections in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. With only 13 members voting against the conference report, it wasn’t even close.

The NDAA now heads to President Barack Obama, who has showed in recent days how much contempt he holds for civil liberties. Even though Obama has said he’d sign the bill, I would still suggest that you call the White House at (202) 456-1111 and make your voice heard.

Many thanks to Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and the other members of the Senate that stood with the Constitution and the civil liberties of their constituents this evening.

It’s ironic that yet another fundamental civil liberty has been gutted on Bill of Rights Day.

NDAA moving forward in Congress

The very same week Gallup released a poll showing that fear and distrust of the federal government is at a near record high, the Congress is poised to move forward on the National Defense Authorization Act, which would allow for the indefinite detention of Americans:

Congress is pressing ahead with a massive $662 billion defense bill that requires military custody for terrorism suspects linked to al-Qaida, including those captured within the U.S., with lawmakers hoping their last-minute revisions will mollify President Barack Obama and eliminate a veto threat.

Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees announced late Monday that they had reached agreement on the policy-setting legislation that had gotten caught up in an escalating fight on whether to treat suspected terrorists as prisoners of war or criminals in the civilian justice system.

Responding to personal appeals from Obama and his national security team, the lawmakers added language on national security waivers and other changes that they hoped would ensure administration support for the overall bill.

“I assured the president that we were working on additional assurances, that the concerns were not accurate,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., who spoke to Obama last week, told reporters at a news conference. “That we’d do everything we could to make sure they were allayed, and met.”

White House officials said Tuesday they were reviewing the bill. It was unclear whether they would hold firm on the veto threat.

Jon Stewart on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

On Wednesday, Jon Stewart covered the Senate’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains language that would allow the federal government to detain American citizens indefinitely without formal charges or trial.

Listen carefully and call your members of Congress:

Congress must shoot down the defense authorization bill

A few days ago, I wrote that the compromise is the Senate over the detainee language in the defense authorization bill was a good thing. Well, after reading more about it, it’s clear that Americans are still in danger of being detained indefinitely by their own government without formal charge, as Sheldon Richman of the Foundation for Economic Education explains at Reason:

Permit me to state the obvious: The government shouldn’t be allowed to imprison people indefinitely without charge or trial. It shouldn’t be necessary to say this nearly 800 years after Magna Carta was signed and over 200 years after the Fifth Amendment was ratified.

Yet this uncomplicated principle, which is within the understanding of a child, is apparently lost on a majority in the U.S. Senate. Last week the Senate voted 61-37 in effect to authorize the executive branch to use the military to capture and hold American citizens indefinitely without trial—perhaps at Guantanamo—if they are merely suspected of involvement with a terrorist or related organization—and even if their suspected activity took place on U.S. soil.

The provision, which is included in the National Defense Authorization Act, was drafted without a public hearing by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). Sen. Mark Udall (D- Colo.) sponsored an amendment to remove the power, but the amendment was defeated. A related provision requires that terrorism suspects who are not citizens be held by the military rather than being tried in a civilian criminal court. (The executive branch can waive this requirement after certifying to Congress that the waiver is a matter of national security.)


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