December 6, 2011 9:13 AM Subscribe
posted by AElfwine Evenstar (127 comments total)
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For the past 48 years the U.S. Congress has passed a version of The National Defense Authorization Act. The purpose of the act is to set the budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense. This year's act has some controversial provisions
. President Obama has threatened a veto
Carl Levin, one of the architects of the bill, claims that the bill will only "codify existing authority that was adopted by both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration and that has been upheld in the federal courts," and that "For the first time, this bill provides that in determining a detainee’s status, that that detainee will have access to a lawyer and to a military judge. That is not the case now. Nor would the bill preclude the trial of terrorists in the civilian courts, as some have erroneously asserted. As a matter of fact Mr. President, it’s the contrary. The bill expressly authorizes the transfer of any military detainee for trial in the civilian courts at any time."
Opponents of the bill are claiming that the bill "would authorize the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect — anywhere in the world — without charge or trial. The measure would effectively extend the definition of what is considered the military’s 'battlefield' to anywhere in the world, even within the United States."
The ACLU has interpreted the bill to mean that: "There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1031 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so."
Open Congress blog wonders "with the social uprisings taking place around the world, including the Occupy movement, the relevant and important question here is if this could be used to attempt to justify military suppression of constitutionaly-protected political activity. Could the military use this to power to essentially disappear U.S. citizens with inconvenient views? As always, it’s not the intention of the legislators that ultimately matters, it’s the legislative text and it’s interpretable potential for as long as it may stand as law."
Last Tuesday the Senate rejected the Udall Amendment, which would have set in place a framework for Congressional review of the detention framework, and passed the bill as is. The bill is now under revision by the House of Representatives.
Breakdown of the vote on the Udall Amendment.
Text of Udall Amendment.
(Warning: pdf)Text of controversial sections are in Title X, subtitle D, sec. 1031 and sec. 1032
(starts on page 432 of the pdf)