Obama has had the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on his desk for close to two weeks. Yesterday he signed it. The law allows for the detention of American citizens for suspected terrorism involvement, with no trial – depending on who you believe. There is language in the bill to guarantee us that there is nothing new in the law, but – the real, defining language was voted down. See an important Rand Paul video below.
Recently two retired four-star Marine generals called on the president to veto the bill in a New York Times op-ed, deeming it “misguided and unnecessary.”
“Due process would be a thing of the past,” wrote Gens Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar. “Current law empowers the military to detain people caught on the battlefield, but this provision would expand the battlefield to include the United States – and hand Osama bin Laden an unearned victory long after his well-earned demise.”
The bill was submitted for vote late, without adequate time to read it. Most who voted for it, had little knowledge of what was in it. Those voting for it said, and Obama signing it said, they did so because the Military has to be funded.
Senior administration officials, who asked not to be named, told ABC News, “The president strongly believes that to detain American citizens in military custody infinitely without trial, would be a break with our traditions and values as a nation, and wants to make sure that any type of authorization coming from congress, complies with our Constitution, our rules of war and any applicable laws.”
One official explained that President Obama does believe, however, that American citizens can be temporarily detained, and that the military has the right to capture and hold any citizen who is engaged in conflict against the United States. If various provisions in the law prove unworkable, the president could go back to Congress to ask for changes.
Senate Amendment (SA) 1126 would “clarify” Section 1031 to explicitly state within the section that the authority of the military to detain persons without trial until the end of hostilities does not apply to American citizens. [Update: Voted down 45-55]
SA 1125 would limit the mandatory detention provision in Section 1032 to persons captured abroad, not in America. [Update: Voted down, 45-55]
I have a fairly comprehensive look at the language, along with some legal opinions here. You can also see a list of those voting against the NDAA.
Today we start a new year, and really America, we must force Congress to stop this sloppy and dangerous behavior. It must be a big issue in the 2012 elections. Of course we should fund the Military, but we must do it in a timely manner without cramming the bill with provisions that are not fully understood.
Who in Congress went to the microphone and said, ‘we just got the bill and it’s dreadfully late?’ I heard Rand Paul mention it just days before it was signed on an interview with Fox. The bill was due on October 1. All Republicans in both chambers should have hit the mics that day, and each day thereafter, telling us that the bill was egregiously late. Where are our defending Fathers?
A snippet from the Rand Paul video below, just before the NDAA vote (this is a chilling video, with discussion about the Patriot Act and how we can handle terrorism without it, and keep our Constitutional liberties intact):
Their legislation would arm the Military with the authority to detain, indefinitely and without trial, suspected al-Qaeda sympathizers, including American citizens apprehended on American soil… There is one thing and one thing only protecting American citizens from being detained at will, at the hands of a too powerful state – our Constitution and the checks we put on Government power…
“…the very core of liberty secured by our Angle-Saxon system of separated powers has been freedom from the indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive” – Justice Antonin Scalia
Senator Rand Paul on the National Authorization Defense Act (video)