© Robert Sommers 2019

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Indefinite detention

The President has just won an important ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals. He can now indefinitely detain US citizens and foreigners suspected of being affiliated with terrorists under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. Your Congress granted him the power and authority to arrest and hold individuals accused of terrorism without due process under the NDAA. Forever, without a trial.

A group of journalists and activists sued to overturn the law last year and won a federal injunction but the ruling was just overturned.
Section 1021 of the NDAA reads in part that the president of the US can indefinitely imprison any person who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces engaged in hostilities against the US or its coalition partners, as well as anyone who commits a "belligerent act" against the US under the law of war, "without trial, until the end of the hostilities.” The power to do as much was allegedly granted to the commander-in-chief after the Authorization to Use Military Force was signed into law shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but a team of plaintiffs have argued that Section 1021 provides the White House with broad, sweeping powers that put the First Amendment-guaranteed rights to free speech and assembly at risk while also opening the door for the unlawful prosecution of anyone who can be linked to an enemy of the state. 
But don't worry. President Obama issued a signing statement and says that he won't be abusing the privilege.
“I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.”    
And just because he signed it doesn't mean that he agrees with it.
“The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.” 
Talk about playing both sides of the fence. The problem regarding detaining people indefinitely without trial, until the cessation of hostilities, is that when you are fighting a "war" against an amorphous enemy named terrorism, or tooth decay for that matter, the war never ends and people never get a chance to defend themselves. And that right to a defense is a supposed bulwark of our rights as American citizens. Those rights we used to have.

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