Facebook is a really great way to stay informed. Unfortunately, Facebook is also a really great way to be misinformed, and that is exactly what is happening right now with this link, stating that the President has signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Unfortunately, there is no date on the link, but if you click through, to the link within the article, you’ll see that it was dated January 7, 2011, almost a year ago. It was about the 2011 budget.
This is not to say that 2012′s NDAA is not newsworthy. The NDAA is perhaps the most controversial bill before Congress right now. The act, in various forms, is passed every year by Congress and then signed by the President. It includes budgets and various other policy specifics.
The 2012 version, however, includes a serious intrusion on our civil rights. It will authorize the military and other law enforcement officials, under the guise of fighting “the War on Terror,” to indefinitely detain American citizens.
The President originally threatened to veto the bill, but Congress has finalized modifications, and are hoping the President will sign the act. Here is the press release, outlining the changes, including changes to the detainee portion. One specific change reads as follows:
Require military detention – subject to a Presidential waiver – for foreign al Qaeda terrorists who attack the United States. This provision specifically exempts United States citizens and lawful resident aliens, authorizes transfer of detainees to civilian custody for trial in civilian court, and leaves it up to the President to establish procedures for determining how and when persons determined to be subject to military custody would be transferred, and to ensure that such determinations do not interfere with ongoing intelligence, surveillance, or interrogation operations. Language added in conference confirms that nothing in the provision may be ―construed to affect the existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other domestic law enforcement agency with regard to a covered person, regardless whether such covered person is held in military custody.
The first words I emphasized are the words that are of most concern to civil libertarians. As it stands, the law would protect American citizens, but any President can change that.
The White House has indicated that Obama will sign the current version, which is set to be on his desk by tomorrow, but it’s not too late to contact the President. With enough political pressure, he could be swayed.