On New Year’s Eve 2011, President Obama quietly signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which codified indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The bill was met with much criticism, specifically from the ACLU, yet despite its passage there is still much left to be decided regarding the new law.
For one, the public outcry over the bill’s dangerous provisions has prompted several lawmakers to try their hand at various amendments and legislative remedies. One of those efforts – introduced just last month – claimed to “fix” NDAA’s problems, but is instead a useless bill that might end up causing harm while doing nothing to repeal NDAA’s dangerous indefinite detention scheme. On the positive side, Representatives Justin Amash and Adam Smith have joined forces on a good amendment to directly modify last year's detention provisions. The amendment is an important fix and we're pulling for it to pass.
Meanwhile, as lawmakers wrestle with how to clean up the mess they made last year, the House of Representatives is getting ready to take up another important piece of legislation: the National Defense Authorization Act… of 2013. That’s right, the debate on defense authorization is all set to begin again, this time for the upcoming fiscal year. Debate on the bill could begin as early as tomorrow, and is expected to last for a few days.
We’ll be following these developments closely and will let you know when there are opportunities for you to get involved. Indefinite detention without charge or trial goes against our most fundamental constitutional rights, and we must make sure that last year’s bill will go down in history as a one-time mistake, not the dawning of a new era of lawless executive power.