Why The 2012 NDAA Is Bad News

Posted by CODEPINK Staff

posted by Sharon Miller, CODEPINK San Francisco intern

Do you remember the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act? It’s a nasty piece of legislation which allows for indefinite detention, without a trial, of anyone suspected of aiding terrorists anywhere in the world—including US citizens.

The House of Representatives passed the revised version of the NDAA last week. The Senate passed this final version of the NDAA today. Although President Obama initially indicated he would veto the legislation, a veto seems less likely now that certain provisions have been added—namely, a guarantee that the power to decide who should be imprisoned indefinitely without trial should be granted to the President, not Congress. In other words, Obama is not opposed to the 2012 NDAA’s blatantly unconstitutional disregard for human rights, so much as hairsplitting over which branch of government should have the authority to violate said human rights. This should come as no surprise, since as Glenn Greenwald points out, indefinite detention without trial has been a feature of the so-called War on Terror from the very beginning.

Nevertheless, CODEPINK believes that the 2012 NDAA is bad news indeed. The wording is very unclear: while the 2012 NDAA allows the US to detain people “under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities,” it does not define what “hostilities” are, and it does not indicate what needs to happen for us to have reached an “end” to said hostilities. This is not just an issue of semantics; indeed, the vagueness of this language creates a framework that reaches its logical and sinister conclusion in the remarks of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who called the United States of America “part of the battlefield” in the so-called War on Terror.

The 2012 NDAA effectively leaves the door wide open for human rights abuses so egregious that if they were to take place almost anywhere else in the world (Iran, for instance, or North Korea—or Afghanistan and Iraq for that matter), Congress would, at the very least, pretend to express outrage.  Within the United States, however, passing legislation that has the potential to turn a democracy into a police state of Orwellian proportions is presented not only as acceptable, but necessary, all in the name of “national security.”

We must continue to speak out against war, militarism, violence, and the US government’s latest attacks on our movement and our rights.

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