(Here's) what this bill will do, and it will be signed into law now by President Obama...it will be the first time that the United States Congress has codified the power of indefinite detention into the law since the McCarthy era of the 1950s. The 1950 Congress passed a bill saying that communists and subversives could be imprisoned without a trial, without full due process, based on the allegation that they presented a national threat, an emergency, a threat to the national security of the United States.
President Truman, knowing that the bill would—the veto would be overridden, nonetheless vetoed it and said that it made a mockery of the Bill of Rights. That law was repealed in 1971 with the Non-Detention Act, that said you cannot hold people in prison without charging them with a crime.
The war on terror has eroded that principle, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, but Congress is now, with the Democrats in control of the Senate and a Democratic president, is about to enact into law the first bill that will say that the military and the United States government do have this power. It’s muddled whether it applies to U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, but it’s clearly indefinite detention, and there’s a very strong case to make that it includes U.S. citizens, as well, which, as we know, the Obama administration already claims anyway, and that’s what makes it so dangerous.
Read more on Democracy Now! for 19 December, 2011:
Including this condensation by Democracy Now!
Obama Prepares to Authorize Indefinite Detention of U.S. Citizens for First Time Since McCarthy Era–Glenn Greenwald on NDAA
The $662 billion National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress last week includes controversial provisions that could usher in a radical expansion of indefinite detention under the U.S. government by authorizing the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial.
Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for Salon.com.