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by on September 13, 2012

Anyone paying attention to politics over the last several months knows what the National Defense Authorization Act is; for posterity, though, the ACLU reminds us that “on December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA’s dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield.”

Put simply, the NDAA “allow[s] the U.S. military to detain anyone indefinitely without charges or trial — even U.S. citizens — if the president determines they’re suspected of being terrorists or having aided terrorists” (USA Today); indeed “makes all Americans, in the eyes of our expanding homeland security apparatus, potential terrorists” (Chris Hedges).  Now, lest you think a tabloid, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Chris Hedges are all paranoid, I’ll be happy to join them — I am less inclined to write, and even less inclined to write about the NDAA, because I am aware that it exists.

There should be little rational reason to worry since, as the USA Today article says “The Fifth Amendment guarantees that ‘no person’ can be ‘deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.'”  However, there is little hope for rational reasoning,because the same article admits that “supporters of the no-trial/no-charges rule say U.S. citizens are protected because they can always use their right to challenge their imprisonment, known as habeas corpus. But courts in terrorism cases have often either been slow to grant habeas relief or have given the government’s evidence so much deference that the protection is virtually nullified.”

It is true – as of yesterday – that “a federal judge permanently blocked the military from enforcing the National Defense Authorization Act….  U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest — who issued a preliminary injunction against the act in May — sided with NDAA opponents, saying the act was too vague and violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, Courthouse News Service reported yesterday.”  This is exciting news for the millions of journalists and professors “who claimed it hampered their professions and left them in fear of prosecution.”   Where there is a judicial ruling, though, there will be an appeal.  There will undoubtedly be an appeal, and there will be news laws with new names and new acronyms.  Each will be designed to safeguard our nation from the effects of tolerance or a different culture.

As Chris Hedges says:

The security and surveillance state does not deal in nuance or ambiguity. Its millions of agents, intelligence gatherers, spies, clandestine operatives, analysts and armed paramilitary units live in a binary world of opposites, of good and evil, black and white, opponent and ally. There is nothing between. You are for us or against us. You are a patriot or an enemy of freedom. You either embrace the crusade to physically eradicate evildoers from the face of the Earth or you are an Islamic terrorist, a collaborator or an unwitting tool of terrorists.

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