Thursday, December 15, 2011

Obama To Enshrine Indefinite Detention Into Law

Throughout our country's history, generations have risen to uphold the principles outlined in our Bill of Rights and advance equality for all Americans. The liberties we enjoy today are possible only because of these brave patriots, from the service members who have defended our freedom to the citizens who have braved billy clubs and fire hoses in the hope of extending America's promise across lines of color and creed. On Bill of Rights Day, we celebrate this proud legacy and resolve to pass to our children an America worthy of our Founders' vision.  -- Presidential Proclamation, Bill of Rights Day, 2011

More irony from the Obama Administration.  As the President proudly commemorates the 220th anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights, he shamelessly plans to sign the Defense Authorization Act despite provisions which will allow him -- or any future president -- to indefinitely imprison, without a criminal charge or court hearing, any suspected terrorist who is captured within the United States -- including American citizens.

Obama previously threatened to veto the bill but -- oh, what a surprise -- he has reconsidered after provisions "mandating" military custody of non-citizen terrorism suspects arrested on US soil were rendered optional.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) who strongly opposed these provisions issued a statement which reads in part:
Supporters of this measure will argue that this language simply codifies the status quo. That is not good enough.  I am not satisfied with the status quo.  Under no circumstances should the United States of America have a policy of indefinite detention.   I fought against Bush administration policies that left us in the situation we face now, with indefinite detention being the de facto administration policy.  And I strongly opposed President Obama’s executive order on detention when it was announced last March, because it contemplated, if not outright endorsed, indefinite detention.
The ACLU asserted that the bill contains “harmful provisions that some legislators have said could authorize the U.S. military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians, including American citizens, anywhere in the world” and added: “if President Obama signs this bill, it will damage his legacy.”

Human Rights Watch said that Obama’s decision “does enormous damage to the rule of law both in the US and abroad” and that “President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.”

As Adam Serwer concludes:
The administration had said that the military detention provisions of an earlier version of the NDAA were "inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets."
The revised NDAA is still inconsistent with that fundamental American principle. But the administration has decided that fundamental American principles aren't actually worth vetoing the bill over.
 Happy Bill of Rights Day, everyone.


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