President Barack Obama signed the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) this Saturday after a formal threat to veto. The Congress how now awarded immense and unconstitutional power to the executive branch. Ron Paul described the bill as a “slip into tyranny,” one that will almost certainly accelerate “our descent into totalitarianism.”
The National Defense Authorization Act is the $662 billion law that authorizes the Treasury Department to fund the Defense Department, and now a tiny little provision has been added as a footnote to this bill, which sort of suspends all Constitutional rights for American citizens if they are declared – on suspicion alone – to be involved in plotting or carrying out terrorist acts.
In actuality, the provisions, if actually put into use, are unconstitutional. Such laws are used to restrict free speech. They deny basic rights guaranteed under the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments. The NDAA basically now allows the US military (or rather after Obama’s veto threat) the President to arrest US citizens on mere suspicion without a warrant. Anyone, anywhere, can be whisked off and held at an undisclosed location in military custody for an indefinite period of time without allowing that person any contact with family, friends or legal counsel, without pressing any charges in court or even the right to trial.
These laws effectively change the constitution, and should be declared invalid for this reason alone. NDAA is a top concern for many human rights organizations, along with Amnesty International and the ACLU and a top story on many international news forums – but received little to no-media coverage in the US. In fact, President Obama still, if you can believe that, states that he had serious reservations while signing the bill – but he still chose to forego his right to veto.
“President Obama's action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” says Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield. The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress or internationally.”
Obama further tried to clarify his stance by adding that, “My administration will interpret section 1021 [of the bill] in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law. I have signed the bill because I believe that this section can be interpreted and applied in a manner that avoids undue harm to our current operations."
Romero argues that this is not only about Obama’s administration – the law is now open to any future president to use as he wishes – perhaps including Republican presidents such as Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich, who would be willing to use this power more aggressively. "Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back the constitutional excesses of George Bush in the war on terror was extinguished today." he added.