NDAA 2014: Indefinitely Detaining Your Rights

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The 2014 National Defense Authorization Act passed the Senate quietly on Friday, December 20th, 2013, while the mainstream media was busy reporting on Duck Dynasty and the contrived social controversy over the holidays. This familiar deceptive tactic was also used with the 2012 NDAA, when President Obama signed the legislation into law on New Years eve, 2011.

This action codified indefinite military detention into law without charge or trial for the first time in United States history. The NDAA’s extremely dangerous detention provisions give authorization to the president, and all future presidents, to capture, detain, and indefinitely imprison anyone from anywhere in the world, and far from any battlefield, without charge or due process of law. Additionally, the scope of the NDAA’s detention authority violates applicable international law due to the fact that it is not limited to people captured in the context of actual armed conflict as required by laws of war.

The recently passed  2014 edition of the NDAA still does not secure our rights as American citizens that were decimated by the 2012 NDAA. Although, the bill does approve the Pentagon to spend $607 billion of taxpayer money. $527 billion in base funding and $80 billion is allocated for America’s “global operations”. It was so hastily passed that there was not even time to discuss possible amendments that could alter the controversial bill. What the NDAA terms as a “terrorist” in section 1021 has been argued as being too vague and has the capabilities of being exploited.

To add to the infamous NDAA tradition, Senator Jay Rockefeller attached riders S8470 & S8480, which adds CISPA like Internet censorship to the bill. Rockefeller on his bill, “I’ve always thought this was a great way to emphasize the critical need for a public-private approach when it comes to solving our most pressing cybersecurity issues.”

Potentially, any hacker, investigative journalist, or internet user aggregating information on the internet that challenges the government can face indefinite detention by being labeled a “terrorist”.

This widely rejected segment of the NDAA which fuses indefinite detention of United States citizens with Rockefeller’s “cyber-security” and NSA mass data collecting is systematically destroying Constitutional protections. In Section 1071 it is outlined that there will be a created “Conflict Records Research Center” to analyze the personal meta-data being mined. The information will be shared between the Department of Defense and the NSA, it is officially called, “captured records” and can range between your emails, phone data, browsing history and all activity on social media sites. There is minimal oversight and no limits on record retention, equating to a permanent database and potential dossier on every U.S. citizen.

Adding to the disregard for basic human rights, the prosecution of sexual assaults running rampant in the military was not addressed however. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s amendment to remove decisions about prosecuting sexual assault charges from the military chain of command was put on hold until next year. In the year 2013 sexual assaults in the United States military jumped by 50%. This decision, that was chosen blatantly, demonstrates that the priorities of the bill are centered around surveillance and the expansion of the indefinite detention clause. Also, in the midst of austerity, and cuts to vital services as well as worker benefits the military-industrial-complex budget is being left unscathed.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz voted against the 2014 NDAA yet expressed how there were positive elements in the bill, including some that he introduced himself. These include “an independent investigation into reports of religious discrimination against troops sharing their faith,” and one insisting on “Improved assistance for widows of troops killed in combat.”

Multiple State and local governments have begun taking legislative measures to block the 2012 NDAA unconstitutional indefinite detention clause. Many of the bills proposed have been rejected, and others have offered a false-sense of protection of citizen’s constitutional rights. But the fight has just begun and is moving in the right direction. As of November 2013, there are 5 states that have signed into law protections against the NDAA with nullification at the forefront. More people are taking action, multiple counties and cities have a strong public support for nullification and have passed recent legislation, with many other local governments set to introduce new laws in 2014.

Many in Congress have asserted, by voting for this current version of the NDAA, that they believe this is an appropriate application of authority, although in direct conflict with constitutional guarantees, protections, and freedoms. The claimed authority of worldwide indefinite detention of suspects under the National Defense Authorization Act can be applied even to a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil.

We believe that any military detention of American citizens within the U.S. must be in accordance with the Constitution, and that any extrajudicial detainment is unconstitutional and illegal, even under the NDAA.

With an ever-expanding definition of who is actually a “terrorist”, will we someday see journalists & activists that the government deems subversive, targeted for indefinite detention?

To find out more about how the NDAA may affect you, what your local government is doing in response, and how to get involved to protect your constitutional rights on a local level visit: http://pandaunite.org/

Eric Barlow

Alec Cope

Jay Syrmopoulos

We Are Change
 

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