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.

The FY14 NDAA includes language that will make it easier to transfer detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, home or to third countries that agree to accept them. The language, however, prohibits the transfer of any detainee onto U.S. soil for any reason. The bill also does not include funds for building new, or upgrading old, facilities at Guantanamo—an acknowledgement that the facilities are temporary. The ACLU supports the language as a necessary but incomplete step for beginning to close the military prison for good.

The bill also includes important anti-discrimination protections for service members, including one that requires the DOD to submit a report to Congress that assesses whether its personnel policies for those living with HIV or Hepatitis B reflect an evidence-based, medically accurate understanding of both diseases. This review is welcome because service members have been penalized for behaviors and activities in which no transmission occurred or where there was no meaningful risk that transmission could occur. The FY2014 NDAA also repeals the prohibition on some expressions of private, consensual intimacy by military personnel – regardless of whether they are an opposite-sex or same-sex couple. With the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," this prohibition was stigmatizing and discriminatory.

In December 2011, President Obama signed the 2012 NDAA, codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA's dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield. The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.

For how you can help resist these dangerous provisions, click here.

Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress now assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again. The ACLU believes that any military detention of American citizens or others within the United States is unconstitutional and illegal, including under the NDAA. In addition, the breadth of the NDAA's detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war.

Don't Open the Door to Torture

Don't Open the Door to Torture

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:03pm

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) is pursuing a deeply misguided effort that threatens to reopen the door to torture.

ACLU Lens: Senate Takes Up New Detention Authorities Again Tonight – We Need Your Help!

By Amanda Simon at 11:21am

The Senate’s back in session today, ready to begin once again on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Perfectly timed for the Senate’s return, the San Jose Mercury News ran an incredibly compelling op-ed today by Floyd Mori,…

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…

Thank You Sen. Baucus for Opposing Indefinite Detention

By Amy Cannata, ACLU of Montana at 3:24pm

We are heartened that Montana Sen. Max Baucus is opposing two provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which strike at the heart of our constitutional protections for a fair justice system.

Those two provisions would authorize…

Reid Detains Defense Bill over Problematic Detention Language

By Sam Milgrom, Washington Legislative Office at 2:57pm

Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) made it clear that significant changes to the detention provisions in the Defense Authorization bill are in order. In a letter to Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), Reid…

Will the Senate Forget the Lessons from Japanese-American Internment?

By Amanda Simon at 1:02pm

The U.S. Senate is considering the unthinkable, changing detention laws to imprison people – including Americans – indefinitely and without charge. Before they proceed, they should review our own history by listening to the voices of…

Senate Armed Services Committee Says "No" to Worldwide War; Overreaches on Indefinite Detention

By Sam Milgrom, Washington Legislative Office at 5:12pm

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)…

Act Now to Honor Our Troops on Veterans Day

Act Now to Honor Our Troops on Veterans Day

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 10:49am

As the granddaughter of a retired brigadier general, I understand the power of Veterans Day and its importance to the men and women who serve our country. Grandpa passed away a couple of years ago, and I always think of him around this time of year.


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