On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA).
The National Defense Authorization Act is a bill passed into law each year. It allows the government to continue funding national security interests and the military for the next fiscal year. This year’s bill, however, was different: It contains a series of striking provisions which violate basic principles of American jurisprudence, and which we believe to be unconstitutional.
The 2012 NDAA greatly expands the power of the federal government to fight the so-called War on Terror. Many — including some of the law’s sponsors — assert that the NDAA seeks to authorize the US military, for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing.
The language of this law is dangerously vague, but many — including several of its sponsors — believe that it grants what are essentially dictatorial powers to the federal government to arrest any American citizen (or anyone, anywhere) without warrant and to indefinitely detain them without any charge. Suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore prisons and kept there until “the end of hostilities.” It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.
Section 1021 defines a “covered person” – one subject to detention – as “a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces” that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”
The law, however, does not define the terms “substantially supported,” “directly supported” or “associated forces.” As it stands, the law violates the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments of the US Constitution and most of the Bill of Rights.