Obama Rings in the New Year By Signing Bill Allowing Indefinite Detention of Americans

Obama signed the NDAA – including a provision allowing the indefinite detention of Americans - on New Year’s eve.

Obama issued a “signing statement” with the bill, which – at first blush – appears to say he won’t indefinitely detain Americans. Specifically, Obama wrote:

My administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens … Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.

But a closer reading shows that the signing statement is just smoke and mirrors.

Specifically, it was Obama - not Congress – who originally requested that an exception for American citizens be removed from the bill. As such, his professed reluctance is wholly disingenuous.

Moreover, Obama signed a bill which would allow future presidents to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens, and his signing statement in no way limits their power to run roughshod over our rights.

As the ACLU notes:

The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration would use the authorities granted by the NDAA, and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations. The White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA, but reversed course shortly before Congress voted on the final bill.

“President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield. The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.”

Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress now assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again. The ACLU believes that any military detention of American citizens or others within the United States is unconstitutional and illegal, including under the NDAA. In addition, the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war.

“We are incredibly disappointed that President Obama signed this new law even though his administration had already claimed overly broad detention authority in court,” said Romero. “Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back the constitutional excesses of George Bush in the war on terror was extinguished today. Thankfully, we have three branches of government, and the final word belongs to the Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on the scope of detention authority. But Congress and the president also have a role to play in cleaning up the mess they have created because no American citizen or anyone else should live in fear of this or any future president misusing the NDAA’s detention authority.”

In addition, Obama has claimed the power to assassinate American citizens without any trial or charge. Obama’s signing statement doesn’t even pretend to limit that power.

Category: Legal, Think Tank, War/Defense

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7 Responses to “Obama Signs Bill Allowing Indefinite Detention of Americans”

  1. lisdexick says:

    Is this what the smoke and mirrors payroll tax/pipeline BS was all about? Both sides are working against the middle, middle class that is.

  2. aliasadsj says:

    This provision probably has no real significance and may get contested in the courts. The US Supreme Court already ruled indefinite detention as unconstitutional (Hamdi v Rumsfeld – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamdi_v._Rumsfeld).

  3. Sechel says:

    This is very troublesome. Carl Levin has pointed out that the inclusion of American citizens was very much influenced by the Obama administration. It’s ironic that such language was stalled during the Bush administration only to get enacted under Obama, and ironic when only a short while ago the United Stated insisted on a non-military trial for Khalid Mohammed. The right to due process for Americans is being seriously compromised, and coincidentally follows a very similar whittling down of our privacy rights.

  4. Greg0658 says:

    watching reruns of “Meet the Press” on yesterdays Iowa remote .. (for a while) till it became clear they were not reporting to minds they were shaping minds .. imo to pick a east coast captain of the ship .. a corporatist .. the problem this year in the GOP is they can’t square that firm religious test …. why rant in this thread (cause its here) … I want a Democracy in the 21st / not a Republic anymore … I despise Polls for the reason they are designed to shape minds – those who check next to the presented winner to feel like they themselves picked right

    ok POTUS Obama (or the next) come get me .. I’m over working in/for this __*
    (maybe old white boys club) (with some variant blended pc cross/star/moon around the neck)

    * I think you need my stuff more than you need my labor these days
    (except for the fact every living piece of livestock is a trade & a taxpayer)

  5. Greg0658 says:

    ps – “Democracy in the 21st” AND THAT is scary too .. what happened to my country

  6. victor says:

    Some think tanks suspect that right after the coronation ceremony, young Barack was given “the talk”, in depth briefing that is, by the chief spooks as to what really is happening out there. So, the post 9/11 measures devised by the Bush Administration were adopted and sometimes strengthened. So, even Gitmo, the rallying cry of his hopeful base back in 2008…stayed. Et tu Bark?

  7. ERISANation says:

    The Obama Administration sasy that the SC law that requires photo ID to vote is an unconstitutional infringement on votng rights. I’d hazard the respectful suggestion that indefinite detention of American citizens is a bigger infringement.