Support SF BayView
Donate or Subscribe to SF Bay View
Follow Us Twitter Facebook

Are you a potential terrorist under NDAA?

February 17, 2012

by N’soroma James

President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act on Dec. 31, 2011. The act allocates $662 billion to defense, which includes military equipment, naval vessels and aircraft, including drones for sale, transfer or loan to foreign countries. It details strategy reports and policy on counter-terrorism, detention, prosecution and United States interests abroad.

Critics of the NDAA have focused on Sections 1021, 1022 and 1023 that deal with counter-terrorism and allow the U.S. military to detain, arrest and interrogate U.S. citizens and legal residents without trial. Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul said, “Right now the battle against terrorism involves all of us, and everyone in this country is a potential terrorist.”

At the signing of the NDAA, Obama stated, “The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists.” The language in the bill leaves room for interpretation and brings into question key phrases such as associated forces, belligerent acts and covered persons. Nevertheless, the president stated he would “never authorize the indefinite military detention of American citizens and reject that suspects be tried in military instead of civilian courts.”

Initially, Obama warned the House of Representatives in the spring of 2011 that he would veto the bill if certain language was not changed. Before signing the act, Obama said the provisions changed were “minimally acceptable” and vowed to “use discretion when applying the provision.” However, since the legislation was signed, there has been serious concern from U.S. citizens and civil organizations that the legislation undermines legal rights protected by the Constitution by allowing the military to detain citizens indefinitely and without trail.

There has been serious concern from U.S. citizens and civil organizations that the NDAA undermines legal rights protected by the Constitution by allowing the military to detain citizens indefinitely and without trail.

Section 1021 of the NDAA on Counter-Terrorism states that the president can utilize armed forces for detainment of any “covered person” pending disposition under the laws of war. A covered person is “A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

Reading further in this 500-page bill, Section 1021 states in sub-section (e): “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.”

We must ask ourselves, who are U.S. coalition partners, and what is a belligerent act? Are American citizens belligerent who protest and rally under the First Amendment’s protection of their rights to freedom of speech, to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances? Are we still protected by the Second Amendment: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The American Civil Liberties Union stated that regardless of claims by the Obama administration, “The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision … (without) temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.”

“While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had ‘serious reservations’ about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration would use the authorities granted by the NDAA, and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations,” the ACLU statement continues, maintaining that “the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war.”

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said President Obama’s action 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.”

Section 1024 in the NDAA states an “unprivileged belligerent” can be held in long term detention whereas a “belligerent” can be represented by a military counsel. And until the unprivileged belligerent status is upgraded to a belligerent status he cannot have military counsel. The Center for Constitutional Rights stated that “the same presidential signature that ordered the closing of Guantánamo almost three years ago has now ensured their release or transfer is practically impossible.”

The NDAA has many interesting components: For instance, it forbids any foreign country from buying oil from Iran and sanctions the Central Bank of Iran to prevent production of nuclear weapons. In addition, it requires the Defense Department to report to Congress “on progress of the African Union in operationalizing the African Standby Force.”

Section 1091 of the Freedom of Information Act gives the Secretary of Defense the power to prohibit public access to information from the Department of Defense for what is deemed “critical infrastructure security information.”

The act allocates $100 million for anti-drug activities to Benin, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Liberia, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo. It calls for the reduction of man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) that were used in Libya by so-called “terrorists” and to prevent their acquisition by terrorists.

A new amendment to the NDAA codified as Section 1091 of the Freedom of Information Act gives the Secretary of Defense the power to prohibit public access to information from the Department of Defense for what is deemed “critical infrastructure security information.”

Time will tell whether the NDAA will survive scrutiny by the courts and in the court of public opinion and meanwhile how the act will manifest itself in the U.S. and abroad. As Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence and served as the third president of the United States, asserted, “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.”

Freelance writer N’soroma James can be reached at nsoromastar5@yahoo.com.

 

6 thoughts on “Are you a potential terrorist under NDAA?

  1. NorskeDiv

    Question: Are "Americans who protest belligerents?"

    No! That was easy.

    PS. When reading a bill, look up the legal meaning of the a word and not every possible dictionary definition. Belligerents, for example, might to the layman suggest anyone who is pestering, annoying or rude – so does this bill allow the government to arrest anyone who cuts in line at Starbucks? No. In war related matters, which is what this bill is pertinent to, "belligerents" are those who engage in warfare. For example, members of the Lord's Resistance Army who are raping and killing Africans and attacking American interests could be held under this provision, even though there likely would not be enough evidence to convict them in a court of law.

    This is simply putting into law common practice as exists in every country. I would be more concerned about issues like providing drug treatment, reforming education and improving our healthcare system. Focusing time and energy on something like this only distracts from issues which actually effect our lives, given the fact that no normal American citizen has been or will be prosecuted under this law (except for not even a DOZEN nuts who go abroad and are actually planning to commit terror on our soil, but somehow have citizenship). This is in no way even remotely comparable to the mass imprisonment of dissidents and killing of demonstrators in Russia or China.

    Reply
    1. winno11

      Not Yet!! Wake up. America has dramatically changed since 9/11 and all of those changes have not been for the benefit of Democracy. I would say over the next 10 years you will see a dramatic change to the freedom as we know it in the US and Worldwide.

      Winno11

      Reply
  2. John Bummen

    @NoskeDiv: You seem to miss the point of the sections in question when you say "…enough evidence to convict them in a court of law", and, "…no normal American citizen has been or will be prosecuted…."

    There IS NO prosecution, there IS NO court. They point the finger, and you disappear. No charge, no hearing, no trial. You imply that there is some sort of judicial process, when in fact the very purpose of these sections is the obviation of any such process.

    You don't find that nullification of the protections afforded by the Bill of Rights is something which affects peoples' lives?

    Reply
  3. iranuclear

    As I'm trying to raise awareness to this subject, make sure to follow and share your thoughts by tweeting to me #nuclearpeace or #nuclearwar
    Why is Iran being repeatedly threatened with sanctions?
    The only people who know for sure whether Iran is dangerous or not are its leaders, but it is not easy to understand what they believe, know and intend. This is a compilation I made of quotations that left me rather uneasy.
    http://youtu.be/tb13psZGPuw

    Help me share this!

    Reply
  4. Selina

    "(except for not even a DOZEN nuts who go abroad and are actually planning to commit terror on our soil, but somehow have citizenship)."

    Are you serious the statement above doesn't make any damn sense

    No wonder this country is bankrupt, the Gov't can easly bail out the banks and leave their foreclosed citizens financially hang'in

    Reply

Leave a Reply

BayView Classifieds - ads, opportunities, announcements
TOP STORES
RingCentral
Rebtel
Phone.com