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Update: Feb 29, 2012

Barack Obama Waives Rule Allowing Indefinite Military Detention Of Americans, by Michael McAuliff, huffingtonpost.com, Feb 28, 2012


“The White House released rules Tuesday evening waiving the most controversial piece of the new military detention law, and exempting U.S. citizens, as well as other broad categories of suspected terrorists.”

” ‘It is important to recognize that the scope of the new law is limited,’ says a fact sheet released by the White House, focusing on that worry. ‘Section 1022 does not apply to U.S. citizens, and the President has decided to waive its application to lawful permanent residents arrested in the United States.’ ”

“Advocates for liberties will likely find the new rules for implementing reassuring, at least while President Obama is in office. But one of their big complaints with his signing of the law is that his policies only last so long as he is in office, and they will likely step up attempts to repeal it.”

“The rules also set out for the first time how they will be implemented, specifying that if local law enforcers suspect they’ve grabbed someone who would be covered under the law, they have to notify the Department of Justice. While law enforcers continue their work, the notification sets off an extensive review culminating in a decision by the attorney general, secretary of state, secretary of defense, secretary of homeland security, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the director of national intelligence.”

“Three of the bill’s lead Republican sponsors, Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), cautioned that Obama may be undercutting their intentions for the measure.

” ‘Although we have not been able to fully examine all the details of these new regulations, they raise significant concerns that will require a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee,’ they said in a joint statement. ‘We are particularly concerned that some of these regulations may contradict the intent of the detainee provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress last year.’ All three senators were adamant that all terrorism suspects — American citizens or otherwise — should be taken into military custody.”

Obama Issues Waivers on Military Trials, by Charlie Savage, New York Times, nytimes.com, Feb. 28, 2012


“The rule [NDAA detention provisions], imposed by Congress, applies only to a narrow category of terrorism suspects: those who are not American citizens, who are deemed to be part of Al Qaeda or its allies and who are suspected of participating in a terrorist plot against the United States or its allies. ”

“The White House prepared the waivers as part of required guidelines instructing the executive branch on how to put the new rule into effect. The waivers would apply, according to the guidelines, to any case in which officials believed that placing a detainee in military custody could impede counterterrorism cooperation with the detainee’s home government or interfere with efforts to secure the person’s cooperation or confession. ”

“Even with the exceptions, a senior administration official familiar with the procedures stressed that the mandate meant that executive branch officials would be forced for the first time to consider transferring a newly arrested terrorism suspect to military custody. That could expose the government to greater public scrutiny whenever it decided against the military option. ”

“The sweeping scope of the waivers outlined by the administration could reopen the debate over whether to handle noncitizen terrorism suspects as wartime prisoners rather than as criminal defendants. ”

“All six members of an interagency national security team must agree before a prisoner is transferred to military custody, effectively giving any of them veto power over complying with the mandate. In addition, even if all six agree that a prisoner should be transferred to the military, the director of the F.B.I. must agree that the timing is right. ”

Obama lays out detention rules for al Qaeda suspects, Jeremy Pelofsky and Laura MacInnis, reuters.com, Feb. 28, 2012


“Under the directive, al Qaeda suspects arrested by U.S. law enforcement for waging attacks against American interests would not necessarily be held by the Pentagon under several scenarios, including if foreign governments refuse to hand them over to U.S. military control.”

“Other exceptions would include if the person were a U.S. permanent legal resident or if transferring them to military custody would hurt the chances of obtaining a confession or cooperation from the terrorism suspect.”

“The president’s directive also gave the attorney general permission to make additional waivers on a case-by-case basis in consultation with other national security officials.”

Obama sidesteps terror suspect law, World News, channelnewsasia.com,  Feb. 29, 2012


“…Obama appeared to be following through on a commitment to not uphold parts of the rule, particular those which could pave the way for the indefinite detention of US citizens without trial.”

“The December law revived debate over the complicated legal thicket surrounding the treatment of terror suspects and over rules hurriedly drawn up by the previous Bush administration after the September 11 attacks in 2001.”

“The directive is aimed in part at preventing a disruption of terror investigations conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

“Obama specifically waived the NDAA requirements for US citizens and permanent residents, as well as anyone arrested by a federal agency in the US, such as the FBI, or by state or local law enforcement…Obama’s waivers were released one day before the US Senate convenes a hearing on the law’s military detention previsions.”

Feinstein aims to blunt provisions of detainee law, by Carolyn Lochhead, sfgate.com, Feb. 29, 2012


“The California Democrat [Feinstein]has argued that the detainee provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act are a contemporary version of a World War II executive order that sent about 110,000 Japanese Americans to relocation camps throughout California and the West in what is considered one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. ”

“Feinstein will chair a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill she is sponsoring, the Due Process Guarantee Act, that would change the detainee portions of the law that the president signed in December. The bill has 24 co-sponsors including four Republicans, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jerry Moran of Kansas.”

“Feinstein’s allies among civil rights organizations praised her effort but said her bill is too limited. They want full repeal of the detainee provisions, as a House bill by GOP presidential contender and Texas Rep. Ron Paul would do. The Feinstein bill would protect citizens and permanent legal residents from indefinite military detention but not tourists, business travelers, illegal residents and anyone who is not a citizen or green-card holder. ”

” ‘Sen. Feinstein has been a true hero in fighting back against the NDAA,’ said Chris Anders, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union. But he said the bill ‘still needs some more work to meet the goals of explicitly blocking indefinite detention without charge or trial in the United States and ending illegal indefinite detention worldwide.’ ”

Update: Feb. 28, 2012

Live, from the Senate Judiciary Committee, it’s Dianne Feinstein! (Chairing the committee)

DATE: February 29, 2012
TIME: 10:00 AM
ROOM: Dirksen 226

See webcast of meeting here:

“The Due Process Guarantee Act: Banning Indefinite Detention of Americans”

Senate Judiciary Committee, Full Committee

Here’s something else you can do: Via ACLU, send your Congress people a message to fix the NDAA!

Tell Congress: Fix the NDAA, the American Civil Liberties Union, [sign letter to your Congresspeople at above link. ]

Will Congress Finally Start to Clean Up the Mess It Made With the NDAA?, by Chris Anders, Washington Markup, ACLU, Feb. 28, 2012

Update, Feb 27, 2012

Critics of Indefinite Detention Gain Traction to Stop NDAA, by Adam Klasfeld, Courthouse News Service, Feb. 27, 2012


“A hearing to block the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the U.S. military to indefinitely detain, without charge or trial, anybody accused of planning or supporting terrorism anywhere in the world, may occur as early as Thursday, a federal judge ruled.”

“…Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges filed a lawsuit against Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, claiming that the law threatens reporters with life imprisonment for interviewing people whom the United States classifies as terrorists.”

“Hedges’ lawyers must give the defendants 72-hours’ notice before seeking a temporary restraining order, which the parties may argue as early as Thursday…”

” ‘How is it that we can have local elected officials and state elected officials who can see this act clearly for what it is, and we have only a handful of congressmen and senators that do?’ [Jason] Overstreet said during the [phone] conference.”

“Peggy Littleton, the Republican commissioner of El Paso County, joined the call from an Air Force base where she reported many soldiers are alarmed about the law. ‘They can’t imagine being put in a position to take away a person’s habeus corpus rights’…”

“Without a temporary restraining order, the NDAA will go into effect on Saturday, according to an article Hedges wrote for Truthdig.com.”

“In her book ‘The End of America,’ [Naomi] Wolf proposed that there are 10 steps to the subversion of democracies.  NDAA represents the final step outlined in the book, ‘Suspend the rule of law’… ‘once governments can take people in without charge or trial, journalists aren’t safe…Union leaders aren’t safe. Clergy aren’t safe. Activists aren’t safe. Nobody’s safe.  Other governments likely would follow suit.'”

The costs of US counter-terrorism policy, Gabor Rona, Human Rights First, Feb. 27, 2012

Fordham Law School conference: “The Economics of Terrorism,” Friday, February 24, 2012


“There are four choices to be made about how suspected terrorists are handled: extrajudicial killing, prosecution in federal court, prosecution by military commission and indefinite detention without trial.”

“These governments, rightly or wrongly, (rightly, I think) also believe that Guantanamo-style indefinite detention without trial and trial by military commission are incompatible with international law, including the law of armed conflict and human rights law. They withhold intel and they decline to transfer terrorism suspects to the US so long as these policies and practices remain in effect. Just recently, an appeals court in Canada denied US extradition request for a terrorism suspect because of incompatibilities between Canadian human rights obligations and US detention policies. ”

“The cost is not only to cooperation between governments. Guantanamo, military commissions, targeted killings, and Abu Ghraib’s power to recruit disaffected individuals to the anti-American cause is clear. Those who understand the tribal structure of places like northern Pakistan and Yemen are absolutely clear that a drone attack on one terrorist creates five more, and a drone attack that kills one woman or child can create a dozen more.”

“Defenders of the military model uniformly fail to acknowledge that the US code contains a war crimes law, which provides for jurisdiction in our tried and true Article 3, federal courts.”

“The annual cost of detaining an individual in Federal prison: $27,251. The annual cost of detaining an individual in Guantanamo:     $800,000.”

[National Lawyers guild] NLG condemns NDAA provisions on indefinite detention, Dec. 27, 2011


“The National Lawyers Guild adds its voice to the many others who oppose this legislation. Our opposition is not based solely on the fact that this bill allows indefinite detention of US citizens and residents or that the presumed “battlefield” encompasses the entire globe. We oppose indefinite detention without trial because it is immoral and cruel and because it violates the U.S. Constitution and international law.”

“Our principled opposition is based on the:

1.         United States Constitution’s Article 1, Section 9, Clause 2 which enshrines the privilege to petition for habeas corpus;

2.         United States Constitution’s Article 3, Section 3 which provides those charged with treason heightened due process protections;

3.         United States Constitution’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure;

4.         United States Constitution’s Fifth Amendment prohibition of deprivations of liberty without due process;

5.         United States Constitution’s Sixth Amendment right to a speedy and public trial, to knowledge of the charges, to the assistance of counsel and to confront witnesses;

6.         Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United States has signed, and which holds that ‘no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile’ (Article 9); those who are arrested are entitled to a fair and public hearing by an impartial tribunal (Article 10), and all those charged with a penal offense are presumed innocent, and have the right to a public trial and all of the guarantees necessary for a defense (Article 11); and

7.         International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the United States has ratified, and which provides in article 9 (1): ‘Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.’ ”

“The laws of war do not override these rights. International humanitarian law, set forth in the Geneva Conventions, applies to all battlefield hostilities, including illegal wars. The current ‘war on terror’ is an undeclared war without end, waged everywhere on Earth. Indefinite detention for the duration of such a ‘war’ is an immoral act of extreme injustice that makes a mockery of the idea that prisoners of war may be held only until the end of hostilities. ”

NDAA Protest, Feb. 3, 2012 Ralph Lopez

More NDAA responses and related news

And now also Utah!

Currently, eight states have varying levels of legislation aimed at nullifying the NDAA, National Defense Authorization Act, refusing to acknowledge its influence  in their state. Virginia’s legislation passed the House 96-4. The other states  with introductory legislation are: Tennessee, Washington, Arizona, Oklahoma, Maryland and Missouri. Other actions in states are: Alaska (State Supreme Court case) and Montana (recall effort).

Local resolutions have also been adopted at the town and county level, refusing to allow the detention provisions to be observed in their jurisdictions. Towns and counties adopting resolutions are: El Paso County, CO, Fremont County, CO, town of Fairfax, CA, Weld County, CO, town of Macomb, NY, town of New Shoreham, RI (and Block Island, RI), and city of Northampton, MA.

National Campaign Organizes to Overturn Provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that Empowers Government to Indefinitely Detain American Citizens [Interview with Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee],  by Melinda Tuhus, Between The Lines, 22 Feb, 2012


“The fact of the matter is that even for U.S. citizens within the U.S., the NDAA does in fact authorize detention without trial, particularly because the existing authorities – particularly the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Afghanistan – has already been used to assert that power.

“What the NDAA does is codify what used to be a unilateral executive assertion applied to two Americans over the last ten years and then creates a statutory framework that can now be applied to anyone. You might think of the NDAA as the bill that extends Guantanamo beyond Guantanamo into the domestic U.S. and across our country, giving any future president the authority, essentially, to round up political opposition without allowing people a day in court to prove their innocence.”

“…the AUMF contemplated a very specific set of actions, that is to say, the invasion of Afghanistan. It did not encompass any of the things that presidents from both political parties have shoehorned onto it…The NDAA builds a much bigger hook for any executive to interpret his powers very expansively in the future. ”

“… on Dec. 15, Bill of Rights Day, there were 30 different cities in which grassroots actions along the lines of marches, rallies, took place opposing the NDAA. None of them – not a single one – nor the 30 together got any press conference. It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a coordinated media blackout of any subject matter I’ve ever seen…”

“The first of the resolutions rejecting the NDAA came from a county in Colorado [El Paso County] that encompasses the Air Force Academy, and it’s red, white and blue patriotism straight through and through. It says these are not the principles that our armed services fought and died to defend.”

“…the libertarian right, and progressive sectors of our society – people of color, peace and justice activists, the Occupy movements – and the Tea Party chapters and the Campaign for Liberty and the Tenth Amendment Center are coming together around this set of principles that are so fundamental, so deeply engrained and enmeshed that they constitute what America has long been known for.”

ACLU sues US over extrajudicial killings of Americans, RT.com, feb 3, 2012


“… the ACLU writes that ‘the Obama administration has released very little information about the practice — its official position is that the targeted killing program is a state secret …’ ”

“The ACLU was demanding that the government release documents pertaining to a September drone strike that executed alleged al-Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-citizen. Samir Khan, also a US citizen, was reportedly killed in the same strike in Yemen. Two weeks later, Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was also believed to be killed in a strike carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command. Both blood kin were born in the United States.”

“The ACLU demanded in October that the FBI, DOJ and CIA explain the executions of three US citizens, who were killed without ever being brought to trial. The CIA had placed the older al-Awlaki on a “kill or capture” list a year earlier per orders from President Obama, but had never brought any charges against him.

“Asked this week on CBS’ 60 Minutes of how a terror suspect makes it to the list, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta explained, ‘the President of the United States has to sign off and he should.’

Bill to put 30,000 drones in American skies by 2020 worries many by Jenn Morrill, Salt Lake City Independent Examiner, Examiner.com, Feb. 8, 2012

FBI Enlists Internet Café Owners to Spy on Customers, by Linda Lewis, boilingfrogspost.com, Feb 6, 2012


“…even the government cannot monitor everything Americans do—not directly, anyway.  Thus, it created the Communities Against Terrorism (CAT) program to enlist your friendly local businesses as spies for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).”

“The government’s flyer designates people as suspicious if they “always pay cash” at an internet café. That’s a jaw-dropping assumption considering that we’re talking about businesses that sell $2 cups of joe, not $600 airline tickets. Good luck paying with a credit card for a purchase under $10.”

“If you engage in these or any other ‘suspicious’ activities listed on CAT flyers, businesses are encouraged to ‘gather information’ about you, including ‘license plates, vehicle description, names used, languages spoken, ethnicity, etc.’  ”

“If the FBI cannot distinguish between legitimate computer use and credible evidence of terrorist activities, it cannot zero in on genuine threats.”