"Guantánamo North" – NDAA Indefinite Detention Coming Soon to a Town Near You?

Top senators thought you wouldn't notice. Behind closed doors, they wrote up new indefinite detention and Guantánamo provisions in the annual defense policy bill, and then waited 11 days to quietly file the bill.

But we now have the bill, and everyone can read it. And everyone should understand what is in this new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before the full Senate makes a big mistake and paves the way for Guantánamo-style indefinite detention being brought to the United States itself.

The new Senate NDAA:

Brings Indefinite Detention to the U.S. Itself: The bill now says that detainees may be brought to the United States for "detention pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force" (AUMF). In plain English, that means the policy of indefinite detention by the military, without charge or trial, could be carried out here at home. Right now, the number of people in the U.S. in military indefinite detention is zero. If the bill is enacted, that number could immediately jump to 100 or more.

Bolsters Claims of NDAA and AUMF Indefinite Detention Authority: The AUMF is the basis for the indefinite detention authority included in the NDAA that Congress passed nearly three years ago. Indefinite detention is wrong today and certainly cannot be sustained past the end of U.S. combat in the Afghan war. But passing a new Senate NDAA that relies on detention authority based on the AUMF, just as the U.S. combat role in the war is winding down, could be used by the government to bolster its claim that indefinite detention can just keep on going. Even when any actual U.S. combat is over.

Requires Report on Even More NDAA and AUMF Indefinite Detention Authority: As if the government didn't already have enough claims of indefinite detention authority, the Senate NDAA asks the administration to let Congress know what more indefinite detention authority it wants.

Tries to Strip Federal Courts of Ability to Decide Challenges to Harmful Conditions: In a stunning provision, the Senate NDAA tries to strip federal courts of their ability to "hear or consider" any challenge related to harmful treatment or conditions by detainees brought to the United States. This provision tries to gut our system of checks and balances by cutting out the courts.

Violates Supreme Court Decision by Stripping Habeas Rights from Detainees Left at Guantánamo: In a classic example of why it is never a good idea for a committee to legislate behind closed doors, the Senate NDAA includes language inadvertently stripping habeas rights from any Guantánamo detainee who is not moved to the United States. Habeas is the very fundamental protection of being able to have a judge decide whether it is legal or illegal to hold someone in prison. While this is almost certainly the product of sloppy drafting, the result squarely contradicts the Supreme Court's decision in Boumediene v. Bush, in which the Court said Guantanamo detainees have a constitutional right to habeas.

Blocks Most Cleared Detainees from Going Home: The Senate NDAA would block the transfer home of the vast majority of cleared detainees by imposing a blanket ban on transfers to Yemen, instead of continuing to allow the secretary of defense to make decisions on an individual basis. That would mean dozens of detainees cleared for transfer would remain trapped in limbo.

There is a right way and a wrong way to close Guantánamo. Charging and trying in court anyone who committed a crime – and sending anyone who isn't charged with a crime back home or to another country – is the right way to close Guantánamo. Simply moving all of the bad Guantánamo policies to the U.S. itself is the wrong way.

The Senate NDAA gets it very wrong. We urge all senators to say "NO" to these provisions.

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family member o...

IDK why you say it like that, because Bernie Sanders told everyone who likes him on Facebook all about it.
And I'm disgusted as hell to find out that they freed 5 prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for the Army Sgt. Now one of the people they released "vowed to make more war" on us.
What the hell you people think you're doing feeling so goddam sorry for people who would put a knife in your back as soon as you showed it to them I'll never know. But I'm furious that he released them because I have no idea if they really did what they were brought in for, but his brain-dead statement makes it look like he DID do it (and wants to do more.) And he gets to live while Eric stays dead. Not only live but do it on the outside of a prison where he can kill more people.
How the hell can anybody be so damn proud of themselves that they're helping people who flat-out say they want to "make more war" on your country. What the hell's WRONG with people?
And why do his killers have more rights than he does? He doesn't even get the benefit of life.
If the person, if any one of them, helped kill him then I'm going to hate every last one of you.
I had to look my daughter in the face and tell her that her dad was never coming home because he was burned out of existence. Then had to watch as her face appeared to crumble and her hope for the possibility of a loving world completely disappeared.

James Estrada-S...

Oath Keepers reprinted the article in its entirety but used the headline: "New NDAA Bolsters Guantanamo-Style Indefinite Detention For Americans." As bad as the new NDAA is, I did not get the sense that the new NDAA applied to American citizens here in CONUS. Is there headline wrong, or are there other previous provisions that makes their conclusion correct? Thanks.

family member o...

Stop playing all these games with our loved one's death and subsequent trial of his killers.
I'm absolutely sick of everybody acting like one of the most important things that happened to my family is something to toss around like a game of frisbee.
It's dead obvious that nobody cares about the emotional aspect of this. If anybody did, they wouldn't be putting us through all this utter CRAP.


Jed Fuchs

Little correction:
There are individuals indefinitely detained in the US. Local police forces detain individuals with no charge extremely often, often just for filming them breaking the law.

J. Chandler

It is completely irresponsible for the Senate to contemplate passing a bill that allows for the suspension of the right of due process for Americans. These measures are proposed as "safety measures" to an inept and easily duped public. There is a much bigger agenda here. The complete and eventual suspension of the Constitution for all Americans.


Dear Chris Anders, In 2012, I saw you on television with Seth Jones. I am a physician and I have practiced medicine in Welland, Ontario, Canada for twenty years and I became concerned about your health while I watched you on that program. I wrote down your name with the intention to contact you with my concerns. That piece of paper somehow was filed away with other papers and to cut to the chase, I came across it this evening. I feel awful and I hope that I am mistaken about your health but my conscience made me write to you. On that program, you looked unwell to me and by the end of the program, I was convinced that you had a protozoan tropical disease called leischmaniasis that is spread by being bitten by a sandfly in certain tropical areas of the world. Your physician could order one blood test to see if you do have this disease leischmaniasis. Please get this checked out. Leischmaniasis can be treated with antimony. So sorry about losing the paper. Sincerely, Joanne Deveaux M.D.

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