Senate Passes Bill That Can Allow The Indefinite Imprisonment Of American Citizens Without Trial

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UPDATE: Sadly, Obama has signed the bill. There is not much joy in this, but for whatever it's worth, here's Stephen Colbert's take on it.


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UPDATE: Two retired four star generals from the US Military have come out against the Defense Authorization Act.


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UPDATE: Finally, THE DAILY SHOW has mentioned the scary National Defense Authorization Act. This is the kind of mainstream media attention I was looking for when I published the first version of this blog post.

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After reading this post, I hope you will please sign the following petitions:

(1) CHANGE.ORG PETITION: Stop NDAA Citizen Imprisonment Law
(2) PETITION: Do Not Hold American Citizens Indefinitely Without A Trial
(3) ACLU PETITION: Oppose Indefinite Military Detention

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a bill that could allow the military to indefinitely detain US citizens without holding trials. That's a pretty big deal. If the government feels that this is necessary for the protection of American citizens, then I can see how with some incredible mental gymnastics they could make that plausible in some minds. But what really dogs me about this bill is the complete lack of wide public knowledge and discourse on the bill before it was passed by the senate. Yes, there are some mainstream commentators on the right and the left who have roundly criticized this bill in blogs and articles in the The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Fox News, The Spectator, The Atlantic, Business Insider, Salon, and CBS News. But as a member of the public, you would have had to be digging for the NDAA in order to find out about it.

To see how non-public the discourse was about this bill, consider my situation. I am a Political Science PhD candidate who reads multiple newspapers a day. Yet the senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act without my knowledge of its existence. If someone as keyed in into politics as myself was completely unaware of this, what about typical hardworking Americans who have families that they have to take care of and jobs that have nothing to do with politics?

I only found out about this bill when a random student in my class told me about it. I didn't know him well, and I honestly thought he must be crazy because I thought I would have heard about something like this if it happened. But then I did a Google search for "National Defense Authorization Act" and up came the hits. The most prominent article in the New York Times was the backpage blog, The Loyal Opposition.

One argument in favor of such a bill is that it provides a path by which to deal with terrorist US citizens like Anwar Al-Awlaki. However, there already exists a path and that is why he is dead. There is no need to add legal language that clearly violates the US Constitution, language that could eventually down the long road of American history, allow for the indefinite detention of people akin to peaceful Tea Partiers and Occupiers.

Given the potential huge consequences of this bill, we cannot let this pass without real public debate. Because of this, I ask you to please sign the following petition that requests that the US government reject any bill that allows for the indefinite imprisonment of US citizens without a trial.

Again, the links to the petitions are here:

(1) CHANGE.ORG PETITION: Stop NDAA Citizen Imprisonment Law
(2) PETITION: Do Not Hold American Citizens Indefinitely Without A Trial
(3) ACLU PETITION: Oppose Indefinite Military Detention

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