Congressman fails to provide convincing defense for NDAA

A report from one of Salon’s online contributors, John Knefel, claims that even the most staunch supporters of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) cannot defend it against accusations that it violates the rights of US citizens. In a discussion with Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY), Gibson based his defense of the NDAA on Section 1021(e) of the law, which states,

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.

Defendants of the NDAA have repeatedly submitted this specific section as proof that the NDAA does not change the existing law protecting US citizens and legal aliens. But as Knefel points out, “existing law is part of the problem.” Most notably, there is the case of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born Muslim cleric, who was killed on September 30, 2011 by a missile fired from an American drone aircraft. Although Awlaki was considered one of the most prominent English-speaking advocates of violent jihad against the United States, this strike appeared to be the first time since the 9/11 attacks that an American citizen had been deliberately targeted and killed by American forces.

His assassination was ordered by the Obama administration in 2010 despite his US citizenship, which naturally provoked lawsuits from human rights and civil liberties groups. According to The New York Times, the administration issued a secret legal memorandum that opened the door to killing a US citizen without trial. This secret memorandum remained intact despite the fact that it contradicts an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various structures of the international laws of war. Although this secret memo was tailored specifically to the case of Awlaki and does not allow for the assassination of any US citizen suspected of involvement with a terrorist organization, it does demonstrate how existing law allows for complete disregard of constitutional liberties under certain circumstances.

In short, Section 1021(e) of the NDAA offers little assurance that civil liberties will remain intact. Even if supporters of the NDAA are correct in their statements that this law only reinforces existing law, they can by no means justify the claim that it will have little or no impact on US citizens.

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New legislation introduced in the Senate two weeks ago by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) fully repeals sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act. These are the sections that allow indefinite imprisonment of American citizens and legal residents by the military without habeas corpus, evidence, trial or legal representation. The bill is THE DUE PROCESS AND MILITARY DETENTION AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2012, sponsored by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) in the Senate and Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) in the House. It has 40 co-sponsors in the House, and no co-sponsors in the Senate. The bill number is S2175 and HR4192. This NEW bill amends the NDAA to :

1) Repeal section 1022 altogether (the bill nullifies the requirement of military custody of civililans; and

2) Guarantee that any person detained within the United States shall ONLY be remanded to a civilian court and that all persons will be guaranteed all due process rights guaranteed in the constitution.
(Read the bill here: ) This bill officially nullifies sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA, the sections pertaining to indefinite detention by the military of American citizens and legal residents.

This is NOT the same bill as Senator Feinstein's Due Process Guarantee Act, a bill I have, until today, been supporting with a petition. Senator Feinstein's bill does not repeal the NDAA. It amends the Authorization to Use Military Force of 2001, and says that for any future authorizations of military force, or any future declarations of war, citizens cannot be indefinitely detained without due process - unless Congress passes new legislation stating so. It also does not protect citizens from military custody, and does not define due process as trial in a civilian court, but as any criminal process the military sees fit.
To find your representatives and how they voted on the NDAA, go here:
click here