NDAA

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a federal law specifying the budget and expenditures of the United States Department of Defense (DOD). Each year's act also includes other provisions, some related to civil liberties.

Everyone should understand what's in the 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.

Hey Chairman Levin, the Michigan House Says You Should Fix the NDAA

Hey Chairman Levin, the Michigan House Says You Should Fix the NDAA

By Merissa Kovach, Field Organizer, ACLU of Michigan at 4:22pm
As Michigan continues to navigate the ugly partisan shenanigans surrounding the so-called “right to work” legislation currently being jammed through the legislature, at least one beacon of light deserves recognition.
Senate Rejects Amendment Banning Indefinite Detention

Senate Rejects Amendment Banning Indefinite Detention

By Ateqah Khaki at 7:27pm

Today, the Senate voted 38-60 to reject an important amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have removed harmful provisions authorizing the U.S. military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians, including…

President Obama Should Listen to the American People – Not His Advisors – on the NDAA.

By Ateqah Khaki at 2:43pm

Last night, the House of Representatives voted to pass the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill that contains harmful provisions that some legislators have said could authorize the U.S. military to pick up and imprison without charge…

Behind Closed Doors: Congress Trying to Force Indefinite Detention Bill on Americans

Behind Closed Doors: Congress Trying to Force Indefinite Detention Bill on Americans

By Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:45pm

For most of America, the end of the year is a busy time. In Congress, this is a season usually spent trying to jam through bad bills while they hope no one is looking.

Seriously? Senate Considering Repeal of Anti-Torture Measures

By Ateqah Khaki at 11:16am

Yesterday, the ACLU and over 30 other organizations sent a letter to the Senate asking them to oppose an effort in Congress that threatens to revive the use of torture and other inhumane interrogation techniques. If passed, an amendment introduced…

At DADT Repeal’s One-Year Anniversary, Refusing to Turn Back the Clock

At DADT Repeal’s One-Year Anniversary, Refusing to Turn Back the Clock

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:09am

This Thursday, September 20, marks one year since the discriminatory policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) finally came to an end, opening the door to service in the Armed Forces to individuals regardless of their sexual orientation.

Please Tweet for Torture Awareness

Please Tweet for Torture Awareness

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 6:44pm

June: best known for school ending, kids’ going to camp, longer days, and increasing temperatures. Also known for being Torture Awareness Month. And, tomorrow, June 26, is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (as declared…

Indefinite Detention Is Un-American

Indefinite Detention Is Un-American

By Ateqah Khaki at 6:29pm

Today USA Today ran an editorial proclaiming “Indefinite detention is un-American.” We couldn’t agree more. The editorial states:

In the decade since the 9/11 attacks, Congress has been willing to do almost anything to ward…

This Week in Civil Liberties (5/18/12)

This Week in Civil Liberties (5/18/12)

By Rekha Arulanantham, ACLU at 3:22pm

Which law could be used to restrict the right to protest at next week’s NATO summit?

Which government watch list can you get on but are entirely at the government’s mercy if you want to get off?

A lawmaker from which state…

On the Agenda: Week of May 14–18, 2012

On the Agenda: Week of May 14–18, 2012

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 12:39pm

This week the House will debate the NDAA for fiscal year 2013. We'll be monitoring the debate and pulling for an amendment that fixes the terrible detention provisions in last year's bill.

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