Politics

Obama Will Not Veto Bill That Would Indefinitely Detain U.S. Citizens

| by Michael Allen

On Wednesday, the White House said President Obama would not veto the controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would allow the indefinite detention of Americans suspected of terrorism.

At one point the bill contained a provision that would have authorized the U.S. to use military force anywhere there were terrorism suspects, including within the U.S. itself, which would violate U.S. law. That section was removed from the bill in July.

But Section 1021 (c) still remains and states: "The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following: (1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of hostilities authorized by the Authorization to Use Military Force."

The law would effectively extends the battlefield in the "war on terror" to the U.S. and applies to anyone "who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaida, the Taliban or associated forces.".

Democratic senators tried amend the provisions, but failed. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) warned the provisions “put every American at risk” of being sent to Guantanamo Bay. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) said it violated the Constitution because U.S. citizens could be apprehended on U.S. soil and held without a trial.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said the provisions would disrupt, rather than strengthen, efforts to fight terrorism in the U.S.

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“The statute lacks clarity with regard to what happens at the time of arrest,” he explained to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It lacks clarity with regard to what happens if we had a case in Lackawanna, New York, and an arrest has to be made there and there’s no military within several hundred miles.”

“What happens if we have … a case that we’re investigating on three individuals, two of whom are American citizens and would not go to military custody and the third is not an American citizen and could go to military custody?”

"It's something so radical that it would have been considered crazy had it been pushed by the Bush administration," said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. "It establishes precisely the kind of system that the United States has consistently urged other countries not to adopt. At a time when the United States is urging Egypt, for example, to scrap its emergency law and military courts, this is not consistent."