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.

A Slick Trick on the NDAA and Indefinite Detention; Don't Be Fooled!

A Slick Trick on the NDAA and Indefinite Detention; Don't Be Fooled!

By Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:36pm

H.R. 4388, the "Right to Habeas Corpus Act," sounds like something good, but it's meaningless.

First-Ever Hearing on NDAA Indefinite Military Detention

First-Ever Hearing on NDAA Indefinite Military Detention

By Sam Milgrom, Washington Legislative Office at 5:04pm

Though this hearing was a good first step in fixing the mess made by the NDAA, it's clear neither side of the debate plans to give an inch.

Al Franken Flags Torture Program Architect at NDAA Hearing

Al Franken Flags Torture Program Architect at NDAA Hearing

By Sam Milgrom, Washington Legislative Office at 11:47am

The senator took the opportunity yesterday to publicly condemn the torture program and question the credibility of Steven Bradbury's testimony.

Have You No Shame? Torture Memo Author to Testify Against Blocking NDAA Powers in USA

Have You No Shame? Torture Memo Author to Testify Against Blocking NDAA Powers in USA

By Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 6:39pm

At today's NDAA hearing, torture memo author Steven Bradbury will advise the Senate not to block the use of the NDAA indefinite detention powers in the United States itself.

Will Congress Finally Start to Clean Up the Mess It Made With the NDAA?

Will Congress Finally Start to Clean Up the Mess It Made With the NDAA?

By Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:16pm

Tell Congress that Americans reject indefinite military detention without charge or trial, and we expect Congress to fix the mess it's made.

Angry About the National Defense Authorization Act?

Angry About the National Defense Authorization Act?

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 4:16pm

Now's the time to do something about it. We've just released a new toolkit with resources to help you fight the NDAA in your community.

President Obama: Veto Indefinite Detention

President Obama: Veto Indefinite Detention

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:03pm

As I write this, the Defense Authorization bill is on its way to President Obama's desk. The bill contains dangerous, sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provisions.

Leading members of Congress have already indicated that they believe that…

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…

Help Us Stop Congress From Passing Indefinite Detention Bill!

By Ateqah Khaki at 4:24pm

Earlier this week we told you about Congress trying to rush a bill to the President’s desk that would authorize the military to go literally anywhere in the world to imprison civilians — even American citizens in the United States itself…

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