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.

And Now Rhode Island

And Now Rhode Island

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, a rush to pass important bills that legislators could not allow to die with the session. Among those must-pass bills in the Rhode Island House of Representatives? A resolution calling on Congress to repeal Sections 1021 and 1022 of the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Those are the dangerous detention provisions authorizing 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 members of the Rhode Island House, like so many of you, found those provisions so abhorrent that they could not go home for the summer/campaign season until they had officially expressed their disapproval to Congress.
On the Agenda: Week of April 30 – May 5, 2012

On the Agenda: Week of April 30 – May 5, 2012

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 12:00pm

Congress is out this week, but May will be a busy month with cybersecurity in the Senate, the 2013 NDAA and the arraignment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

One Thing Maine, Virginia and Arizona Have in Common: Opposition to the NDAA

One Thing Maine, Virginia and Arizona Have in Common: Opposition to the NDAA

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 10:46am

This week, the House Armed Services Committee has turned its attention back to the National Defense Authorization Act and began working on this year's bill. You remember last year's perversion that, for the first time in American history, codified…

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.

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…

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.

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…

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