(JTF Guantanamo photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Gino Reyes)
Next Wednesday will mark the tenth anniversary of the arrival of the first detainee at the military prison hurriedly erected on the arid scrubland of the United States Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In the past decade more than 775 individuals have made that journey, the vast majority have been released without charge after years of harsh captivity, 171 still remain – many cleared for release by the military but trapped by the restrictions placed on their resettlement by Congress.
The last prisoner arrived in Guantanamo in March 2008 but this spring we can expect the first new arrivals in four years to start trickling into the facility. The passage of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) means that Gitmo has now been reopened for business.
The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) yesterday 283 -136. The bill will make President Obama the first President since the red scare in the McCarthy era to sign a law to introduce indefinite detention in the US. It will keep the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, open potentially forever.
The Non Detention Act of 1971 was introduced specifically to address the indignities suffered by Japanese Americans interned during WW2 and the NDAA is the first bill to seek to actively turn that page back.
Ten years after the attacks of 9-11 with Osama Bin Laden finally removed from the equation, do we really need more draconian powers to undermine the liberties of US citizens? And why would we place that trust in this government, or blindly hand it to a future administration.
Provisions that were snuck into the bill with little notice from mainsteam media could spell indefinite detention without a hearing, keep Guantanamo open, and hinder fair trials. With your help, we can ensure that human rights violating provisions in the draft bill do not become law.
The House and Senate are locked in conference this week to thrash out the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2012. It’s a curious sign of the times that there are many conservative voices crying foul over the bill as well as progressive ones. Three in particular are worth noting.
Senator Rand Paul, cast one of the bravest votes last week against a bipartisan group that voted for the NDAA, one of the worst bills to cross the floor this year. It threatens to detain suspects indefinitely, undercuts the rights of US citizens, and sideline our best tools in countering terrorism in one fell swoop.
I don’t doubt the sincerity or passion of those on the opposing side, only their wisdom and their open ended faith in government. Those who place their blind faith and trust in government, and trust that authority will keep itself in check, are liable to find their liberties are eroded as surely as termites eat away an old wooden house.
The passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) through the Senate last Thursday saw the culmination of a ten-year crusade by Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) to make the law of war apply on US soil.
In many ways Senator Graham is simply following the logic of the Global War on Terror frame to its inevitable conclusion: If we are at war with Al Qaeda all around the world then there is no good reason why US soil should be excluded.
Senator Graham’s avowed objective is to allow for the military detention of suspected Al Qaeda, Taliban or otherwise affiliated terrorists captured on US soil, but of course detention is not the only arrow in the military quiver.
A few weeks ago the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was condemned by Senator Reid as so draconian that he could not bring it to the floor. Now it’s back and with an authoritarian vengeance.
The bill has the necessary but perpetually complex objective of outlining the budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense.
This time around, a dubious, ill-informed, and unwise “agreement” has been reached between Senators Levin and McCain to include detention provisions that threaten to bring back internment for the first time since the McCarthy era at the height of the red scare.
Yesterday, we got some good news on human rights from Capitol Hill: Senate Majority leader Harry Reid threw down the gauntlet against indefinite detention provisions in this year’s National Defense Authorizations Act (NDAA). Reid declared he would not bring the new defense appropriations act to the floor unless provisions related to holding suspected terrorist detainees indefinitely were struck from the bill.
The release of detained American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer by the Iranian government last Wednesday was a rare bit of good news. They have now arrived back in the United States and on Sunday gave their first press conference on US soil.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal at press conference in New York, September 25 (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)
When Congress returns from its summer recess in September one of the first tasks on its agenda will be hammering out a final draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Unless we take action now this bill will lay the foundation for a permanent military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.
As things currently stand, both the House and Senate have both produced language in their respective drafts of the NDAA that seeks to redefine the authority under which the President conducts the ‘war’ on al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ‘associated forces’.
One lingering concern in Congress is that the original Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks failed to create a framework under which to detain private individuals captured during military operations. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
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