Sunday, December 11, 2011

National Defense Authorization Act: Indefinite detention? Ho hum!

There's been a great deal of tongue-wagging about the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, and how it, "authorizes the military to detain citizens indefinitely".

Shocking, isn't it? My response is, "Ho hum!"

In fact, the act does not a single thing, because the government already has this authority as section 412 of the Patriot Act. That Act caused a great deal of consternation even in Congress because it permitted indefinite detention of "enemy combatants", a category that apparently neglected to exclude U. S. Citizens.

It was passed on October 25, 2001, after President George W. Bush promised that the indefinite detention would not be used against U. S. Citizens; and signed into law by the president on October 26, 2001.

On May 8, 2002, José Padilla, a U. S. Citizen was detained under the Act. He would remain under detention, without charge or trial, until January 3, 2006. During the intervening period, the Justice Department would repeatedly maintain that the Patriot Act gave the administration the authority to detain him indefinitely, would maintain that he was not entitled to representation by an attorney, to trial, to bond, to writ of habeas corpus, and that no court had jurisdiction to hear his case.

The administration gave in (by finally filing charges and initiating trial) only to avoid a likely adverse ruling by the Supreme Court. The change in detainment status mooted the legal challenge, so the Supreme Court dismissed the case without ever ruling on the validity of the Patriot Act.

We have to assume that José Padilla is an aberration: Not his detention, but the fact that anyone knew about his detention.

It is very likely that there are many U. S. citizens detained now by our government. Locked in a cell somewhere, and no one knows where they are; no one knows they're detained; no one even knows they are alive. No lawyer will ever have seen them; no judge will ever have heard of them. They will be detained until death, and buried in an unmarked grave.

Have you heard of them? Of course you haven't! You only heard of José Padilla because some "idiot" couldn't keep a secret.

The administration will never release them, or even return their ashes, because to do so would expose the administration to an unwanted legal challenge of the Patriot Act.

That detention nonsense in the National Defense Authorization Act is redundant: the government already has all the authority it needs. It intends to keep it.

Update 12/25/2011
Mother Jones asks, "Did Congress Just Endorse Rendition for Americans?" Actually, that merely brings the same answer: Congress already endorsed rendition in the Patriot Act of 2002.

But a new thought has occurred to me. As discussed above, I mention that, "the government already has all the authority it needs. It intends to keep it." I think that leads to an important thought: Perhaps the reason this is being passed now is because the government is concerned that the ever-unpopular Patriot Act won't be renewed next time.

That would explain why they went to the trouble to shove this redundant trash through: It's their insurance policy.

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