National Lawyers Guild Condemns NDAA on Indefinite Detention

by on December 28, 2011 · 32 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights, Popular, War and Peace

National Lawyers Guild / Dec. 27, 2011

After over a decade of the so-called “War on Terror,” President Barack Obama is about to sign the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. The NDAA permits the indefinite detention of anyone, including citizens of the United States, who “was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces, under the law of war until the end of hostilities” – an extremely problematic and vague definition. In addition, it permits the transfer of any detained individuals to any foreign country and trial of such persons before a military tribunal.

The National Lawyers Guild adds its voice to the many others who oppose this legislation. Our opposition is not based solely on the fact that this bill allows indefinite detention of US citizens and residents or that the presumed “battlefield” encompasses the entire globe. We oppose indefinite detention without trial because it is immoral and cruel and because it violates the U.S. Constitution and international law.

Our principled opposition is based on the:

 1. United States Constitution’s Article 1, Section 9, Clause 2 which enshrines the privilege to petition for habeas corpus;

 2. United States Constitution’s Article 3, Section 3 which provides those charged with treason heightened due process protections;

 3. United States Constitution’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure;

 4. United States Constitution’s Fifth Amendment prohibition of deprivations of liberty without due process;

 5. United States Constitution’s Sixth Amendment right to a speedy and public trial, to knowledge of the charges, to the assistance of counsel and to confront witnesses;

 6. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United States has signed, and which holds that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile” (Article 9); those who are arrested are entitled to a fair and public hearing by an impartial tribunal (Article 10), and all those charged with a penal offence are presumed innocent, and have the right to a public trial and all of the guarantees necessary for a defense (Article 11); and

 7. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the United States has ratified, and which provides in article 9 (1): “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.”

 The laws of war do not override these rights. International humanitarian law, set forth in the Geneva Conventions, applies to all battlefield hostilities, including illegal wars. The current “war on terror” is an undeclared war without end, waged everywhere on Earth. Indefinite detention for the duration of such a “war” is an immoral act of extreme injustice that makes a mockery of the idea that prisoners of war may be held only until the end of hostilities.

The National Lawyers Guild opposed expansion of executive power by George W. Bush, who oversaw Guantánamo and other “black sites” where prisoners often endured cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and torture at the hands of their captors without access to lawyers or courts to challenge either the fact or the conditions of their confinement. We oppose equally the current president’s claim to such executive power and his apparent desire to expand it.

The absolute power that the NDAA affords the Executive Branch and the military is dangerous, allowing the Executive Branch to designate whomever it chooses to be subjected to its draconian provisions.

If President Obama were committed to Constitution and international legal norms, he would veto this bill. Instead, he seems more concerned about consolidating the power of the Executive Branch at the cost of our legal and human rights. As “terrorism” and “radical Islam” have come to replace “Communism” in the federal government’s lexicon of fear, the United States continues its spiral toward a new era of McCarthyism. The NDAA is one more step down that road.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Kiara December 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm

So did he sign it? question 1 and 2 why can’t we the people vote on this?

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avatar Frank Gormlie December 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Obama has NOT signed the NDAA yet. They would say, ‘that’s why we have a congress …’

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avatar Kevin December 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm

If he hasn’t signed it, hasn’t it been long enough for a pocket veto (or for it just to become law)? I couldn’t actually find if Congress was adjourned to know about the veto. But, it’s 10 days excluding Sundays and it was passed on the 15th, so with two Sundays it would have been 10 yesterday. Am I mistaken?

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avatar Bobbbie December 29, 2011 at 10:01 am

The POTUS has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to sign a bill while congress is adjourned or it becomes a pocket veto. Obama received the bill on Dec. 21, so he has until Jan. 2 to sign.

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avatar Michael December 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Congress already voted on it and are waiting on President Obama to sign it in agreeance.

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avatar g s December 30, 2011 at 7:17 am

There is a petition on the official White House website asking Obama to veto the bill at http://wh.gov/jeY. Deadline is today! Please spread this link.

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avatar barbaramartin December 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm

So those of us who sounded the alarm and saw the danger right away were on the right track?

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avatar Frank Gormlie December 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm

… ah, yes!

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avatar a December 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

the ndaa has happened because – the aba has allowed it to happen. aba members are already counting all the money they will earn on lawsuits, motions, etc… while americans get locked up and stay locked up. no one even mentions the 8th amendment (abridged) right to bail. why bother – the bra 1966 and 1984 wiped out the right to bail – another conquest of the aba – they don’t have to share an accuseds financial resources with a bail bondsman – aba members get to confiscate all the accuseds resources for themselves, while the taxpayer funds bail release. its the lawyers stupid – occupy the legal industrial complex.

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avatar a December 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm

the aba lobby’s just like every other special interest – if its good for their membership – then its good . screw the constitution if it gets in the way of aba member interests, especially their financial interests. lawyers are scum. occupy the legal industrial complex. its the lawyers stupid – and even their members go along like lemmings.

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avatar Kevin December 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm

He signed it on the Friday before Christmas. This is his Christmas gift to you all.

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avatar Bobbbie December 29, 2011 at 10:03 am

He hasn’t signed it yet. Stop spreading bs.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/signed-legislation

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avatar larry December 28, 2011 at 8:06 pm

…..obama has a tendence to use his “executive order” majic power, when he wants something bad enough!!! done it before!!!

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avatar David December 29, 2011 at 12:04 am

“The NDAA permits the indefinite detention of anyone, including citizens of the United States”

This is a horrible misrepresentation of facts. Is it wrong of me to expect the National Lawyers Guild to not sensationalize topics and provide false information. Let me begin by saying that I do not support this bill, but some people are just outright lying about what it says. To all who have commented on this, have you read it? Have you at least read the sections in question? I doubt it, and that’s what the media relies on. They know that people will read their sensationalized stories and believe every word of it because they are too lazy or uniformed to do a little research. For those who fit this category, here are some quotes from the bill:

SEC. 1031. AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.:

“(d) Construction- Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

(e) Authorities- 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.”

SEC. 1032. REQUIREMENT FOR MILITARY CUSTODY.:

(b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-

“(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.

(2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.”

I understand that the language could be a bit iffy, with the word requirement being used. This is my main opposition against the bill, but this article suggests that it’s spelled out in the bill. Educate yourselves people, if you see an article research it, find alternate sources, etc.

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avatar Bobbbie December 29, 2011 at 10:13 am

You have the wrong link as the bill has been rewritten and recategorized. It is now part of HR1540, and the stipulated sections are now titled SEC. 1021 and 1022. Here’s the link…
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c112:7:./temp/~c112fkNw0r:e838662:

Anyway, despite the ambiguous and broad language of the sections in question, the Waiver for National Security SEC 1022 (a) (4) is the most concerning since it negates the premise that American Citizen’s will not be affected: “WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY- The President may waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the President submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States.”

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avatar truth lover December 29, 2011 at 10:08 am

I encourage everyone to be politically proactive, and sign the petition asking Obama to veto the NDAA :
https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/veto-national-defense-authorization-act-2012-several-provisions-bill-pose-threat-civil-liberties/GLfhBn6D

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avatar truth lover December 29, 2011 at 10:20 am
avatar Brian Joyce December 29, 2011 at 11:43 am

He did sign it! Under that act alone he should be impeached! Everyone who voted for the bill and the president himself should all be kicked out of government! This bill goes against our constitution and the bill of rights! If we the people let this go we are all doomed! We can not let this injustice go! They all must realize that any and all bills passed that are against the constitution or bill of rights will not be allowed! WAKE UP PEOPLE!

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avatar Frank Gormlie December 29, 2011 at 11:51 am

Brian – We cannot find any news or other source that reports that Pres. Obama signed the NDAA. Please cite your source.

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avatar Brian Joyce December 29, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Frank do you need more?

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avatar Patty Jones December 29, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Actually, we don’t need any more links to misinformation, I am removing your previous comments and adding another link to the White House website listing signed legislation.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/signed-legislation

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avatar Brian Joyce December 29, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Section 4 of our constitution states

Section. 4. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

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avatar libconlib December 29, 2011 at 11:41 pm

the tea party and occupy wall street will stand united against NDAA and SOPA!

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avatar Joanne Renshaw December 30, 2011 at 8:40 am

I have been a loyal supporter of President Obama; I am no longer.
I encourage replacing all congressional incumbents. I cannot know about Kaine vs Allen yet, but will be listening carefully. I cannot know about my presidential candidate. Dr. Paul seems poised to be just as much a “dictator” since he wants to completely gut the federal government. This would leave a shell (and chaos) to be filled with whatever he wishes. Power “…given up easily, out of fear in time of war and civil disturbances, and with support from the people, although the dictator will also accumulate more power with the use of force.” – Ron Paul, taken from his book Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom,
Are we f***ed?

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avatar Joanne Renshaw December 30, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Our elected officials are charged with making decisions on issues about which they have no expertise. This fact has finally caught up with us. The issues are extremely complex (socially, economically, scientifically, environmentally, globally, diplomatically, etc.) and they are being hacked at with axes and clubs instead of with fine surgical instruments. Are we F***ED?!

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avatar will December 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I DON’T KNOW ALOT ABOUT POLITICS BUT I DO PAY ATTENTION AND KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON.I AS A PERSON BORN AND RAISED IN THE GOOD OL USA KNOW THAT WE HAVE RIGHTS.LOOK TO THOSE THAT DO SUPPORT THIS NDAA I PITY U. BECAUSE I LIKE U MOST OF YOU ADULTS HAVE A FAMILY AND THEY MAN THE WORLD TO ME. IF I OR ANY LOVED ONE WERE TO BE ARRESTED BECAUSE OF BASICALLY ASSUMED BING A TERRORIST IS IMMORAL.LOOK AT LIKE THIS (THOSE OF U WHO SUPPORT THIS) HOW WOULD U FEEL IF A LOVED ONE WAS LOCKED UP FOR WHAT BASICALLY AN ASSUMPTION OF THE PERSON THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE A TERRORIST.SAID PERSONS DOING SO ONLY FACE JAIL TIME AS WELL EVENTUALLY FOR FALLS IMPRISONMENT.OR AM I WRONG. PPL JUST THINK OF OUR KIDS GROWING UP WITH OUT THERE PARENTS BECAUSE OF THIS B.S. I PERSONALLY AM DISAPPOINTED IN OUR GOVERNMENT AND AM SCARED OF OUR OWN SAFETY SOMETIMES. LOOK BACK IN MY HIGH SCHOOL DAYS I HAD A TEACHER THAT ONES ASKED US IF SHE CAN SAY SOMETING TP US ABOUT OUR GOVERNMENT.THIS IS WHEN BUSH WAS PRESIDENT. SHE TOLD US THAT ONE DAY WERE GOING TO HAVE A DICTATOR RUNNING THE USA DIDN’T SAY WEN BOUT SHE JUST TOLD US THAT WE WOULD.SHE WAS ONLY SPEAKING HER MIND WHICH SHE IS ENTITLED TO DO SO WELL WITH EVERYTHING THATS GOING ON I HOPE THAT STILL OK.WE DIDN’T REALLY BELIEVE HER THOUGHT SHE WAS OUT THERE.BUT NOW IM STARTING TO WONDER.N PLZ DON’T ARREST ME FOR MY COMMENT OR SPEAKING MY MIND.MY AMENDMENT. FREEDOM OF SPEECH WITH OUT OFFENDING OTHERS.NOW PPL DON’T CLAIM TO BE OFFENDED.ITS THE TRUTH.PMPL WAKE UP.STAND UP FOR WHATSF OWER RIGHTS

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avatar Joanne Renshaw December 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Every citizen should sign petitions to the President, and to their Senators and Representative. This link will guide you through petitioning for abolishing NDAA, the 112th Congress, and implementing the Congressional Reform Act.
http://www.petition2congress.com/5656/abolish-disband-112th-congress-establish-new-elections/?m=2604284

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avatar Lawrence A Dickerson December 31, 2011 at 1:52 pm

The petition was cancelled due to not achieving the number of signatures.This is a case where many voice their disapproval without following through with the requirements to have their voice heard.

“Thanks for your interest in We the People, a new tool on WhiteHouse.gov that allows all Americans to ask the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country.

The petition you are trying to access has expired, because it failed to meet the signature threshold.

While you can’t sign this petition, there may be other petitions on We the People on a similar issue that you’d like to add your name to. Or, you can create your own petition.”

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avatar Joanne Renshaw December 30, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Every concerned citizen should sign these online petitions to the President, the 112th Congress, and their Senators and Representative:
http://www.petition2congress.com/5656/abolish-disband-112th-congress-establish-new-elections/?m=2604284

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avatar Adam Smith December 31, 2011 at 9:07 pm

The monarchy has been restored. Obama signed NDAA. The United States is now effectively under martial law.

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avatar ghjky January 1, 2012 at 5:53 am

So if you detain a citizen would that make it okay to detain you also as a witness?

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avatar MJ January 1, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Obama did in fact sign this treasonous bill today and issued a signing statement assuring all us Americans that he will not violate the due pr0cess rights of suspected American “belligerents” and will be processed through the judicial system. This declaration is not binding, can be revoked at anytime and certainly will not apply to future administrations. Thus we now live in a country whereupon a bureaucrat can arbitrarily decided you are a “belligerent” and a threat to national security and you can be kidnapped on the way to the grocery store, drugged then exported to Eastern Europe and tortured until you confess your crimes against the state.

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