AB-351 approved by the California Senate Public Safety Committee

NDAA Obama HopeOn June 25, the California State Senate Public Safety Committee approved bill AB-351, which would prohibit all California agencies and employees from knowingly aiding the federal government in implementing its frightening and totally unconstitutional “indefinite detention.” The bill will now move onto the Appropriations Committee, and if it is approved there will then move to the Senate floor. It was already passed by the State Assembly in a landslide 71-1 vote on May 30.

Sections 1021 and 1022 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allow the military to detain any person suspected of aiding terrorists indefinitely and without trial. As The Guardian (UK) put it, the law “effectively extends the battlefield in the ‘war on terror’ to the US and applies the established principle that combatants in any war are subject to military detention.” What is new is the expansion of this principle to U.S. soil—it now becomes a technique for “domestic policing,” a realm formerly governed by strict provisions in the Bill of Rights, including the presumption of innocence and the rights to due process and a fair trial. Despite assurances to the contrary, this law flagrantly violates the Bill of Rights.

The vaguely worded NDAA gives blanket power to the president and his military: the difficult judgment calls which rightfully belong to a public process are now to be rendered behind closed doors, with few definite regulations, perhaps even without the participation of any judicial institution. Such provisions pave the way for all kinds of horrific abuse of government and military power. The sordid history of indefinite detention in the U.S. speaks to this potential for abuse: think of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Unconstitutional abuses of power like that one are what the California State Senate is set to take a stand against in the coming weeks. According to the Tenth Amendment Center, AB-351 “goes far beyond what has been considered in most other states” because rather than just prohibiting the state from aiding in the implementation of the NDAA, it recognizes “that indefinite detention should not be complied with no matter what federal law is used to justify it.” The relevant section of the bill reads:
This bill would prohibit an agency in the State of California, a political subdivision of this state, an employee of an agency or a political subdivision of this state, as specified, or a member of the California National Guard, on official state duty, from knowingly aiding an agency of the Armed Forces of the United States in any investigation, prosecution, or detention of a person within California pursuant to (1) Sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA), (2) the federal law known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force, enacted in 2001, or (3) any other federal law, except as specified, if the state agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the California National Guard would violate the United States Constitution, the California Constitution, or any law of this state by providing that aid.
Though many states are considering anti-NDAA measures, only one other state, Virginia, has actually passed a law against indefinite detention (though only in the context of the NDAA). Initially, that law passed in the State House but faced opposition in the Senate. Opponents tried to hold the bill for a year, hoping to kill it. Fortunately that vote failed, and two days later, after thousands of grassroots activists urged their Senators to support the bill, it passed the Senate 39-1. After some revisions it was re-passed about a month later and became law on July 1, 2012.
Grassroots activists played (and continue to play) a large role in fighting the NDAA in California. In February, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a “Resolution expressing opposition to the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act.” At that vote, BORDC delivered 89 letters signed by San Franciscans supporting the measure. And when the statewide bill, AB-351, faced a vote in the State Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, BORDC sent a letter to the committee supporting the bill:
The groups we work with are diverse and transpartisan…With such a wide swathe of Californians supporting action against the NDAA’s indefinite military detention provisions, I urge you to vote to move AB 351 out of committee. President Obama signed the 2013 NDAA without any comment on the indefinite military detention provisions, and even Senator Feinstein’s problematic due process amendment was removed from the 2013 NDAA when the bill went to committee. Clearly, the conversation is stalled at the federal level. However, California is seen as a national policy leader. By taking leadership on this important issue, we will ensure that civil liberties are front and center at a national level.
The Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to move the bill forward. The Senate Appropriations Committee, where the bill is now, is also expected to move it forward.

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PLEASE stop using that awful grey font. It is NOT reader friendly because it is hard to read in indoor lighting. Also, when we copy and paste to forward, it takes too long to change it because of all the blue font we don't want to change. PLEASE go back to BLACK font! It is much more reader friendly.
Thank you!