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.

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

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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…

Help Us Stop Congress From Passing Indefinite Detention Bill!

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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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Hooray! With your help, we prevented the Senate from authorizing the president to engage in worldwide war.

For months, we have been pushing to prevent Congress from passing legislation that would give this president (and any of his successors)…

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

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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…

And Now Rhode Island

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By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 2:29pm

Rhode Island’s state legislature adjourned on Tuesday – or, according to their floor calendars, sometime after 2 am on Wednesday morning. (Ouch!) As in most state legislatures, the last day of session saw a flurry of activity,…

Indefinite Detention Is Un-American

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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…

Hey Congress!  Listen to Hawaii.

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By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 3:33pm

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

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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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