Thursday, December 15, 2011

Congress passes act that could authorize indefinite detention of US citizens; Obama takes back veto threat

A new threat to civil liberties looms on the horizon. Congress recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which would open the door for indefinite detentions of anyone, including US citizens, that is considered to be "allied with al-Qaeda."

According to Forbes, the act allows for someone the government says is "a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force" to be held in military custody without trial "until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force." The hostilities it refers to are the conflict with al-Qaeda; in other words, the end of the hostilities is not in the foreseeable future. And there is nothing in the act that excludes US citizens from the authorization of military detention.

This is crazy. This act seems to completely throw away the protection of the Sixth Amendment in the name of security and the war on terror. Infinite detention of foreigners accused of terrorism is morally dubious; infinite detention of US citizens is appalling.

Earlier, Obama threatened to veto the act, which makes sense given his campaign promises to protect civil liberties and his earlier desire to close Guantanamo. But now Obama says he will not veto it. Instead of protecting civil liberties, Obama seems to be taking Bush's disregard for civil liberties even further. It is also saddening, but not surprising, that a majority of both houses of Congress voted for this bill. Congress' approval rating is in the single digits for a reason.

And finally, the sponsor of the bill? John McCain. I can only wonder if he would have gone even further with these draconian "security" measures had he won the 2008 election.


  1. This act goes FAR beyond anything that Bush signed and anything that any president has ever done (with the possible exception of Lincoln in the Civil war). So if Obama signs it why does that put him at "pretty much the same level as Bush"? Wouldn't this put him on a level far beyond Bush and in a class of his own? And why does it matter if the guy who sponsored it could have been president when the guy who WILL sign it into law IS president?

  2. I didn't word that quite right. What I meant was that Bush started us down the road of indefinite detentions and Obama is taking us even further. Edited accordingly.

    As for McCain, maybe it's his reputation. Maybe it's the fact that he PROPOSED the law and argued for it in Congressional debates, while Obama threatened to veto it and then changed his mind after Congress passed it. I still think we'd have even more laws like this if McCain was president.

  3. McCain would have won if he had the guts to go negative and he should have demanded that Barry release his college records what is he hiding anyway.

  4. McCain didn't win so you can stop wondering