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The National Defense Authorization Act, colloquially referred to as the NDAA, is a defense spending bill passed yearly by the United States Congress and signed into law by the President of the United States. This is a typical "must pass" bill - it is vital to maintain the armed forces and though it feeds the military-industrial complex, it also provides for the mundane needs of any standing army.
The world is a battlefield
Other than making Guantanamo Bay and other detention centers harder to close, the most troubling aspect of the NDAA is Section 1021, the provision allowing for indefinite detention, insisting it can be used by the US anytime, anywhere, on anyone. Controversy arrived from whether this was something new or a mainstreaming of a policy that was unwritten in previous wars (i.e. detaining enemies of the state and supporters of enemies of the state).
Below is the provision that has generated the most controversy:
SEC. 1021. AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.
(a) IN GENERAL. - Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.
Thankfully, these laws have not gone unquestioned. Opposition to these measures come from the usual quarters, such as the ACLU, but also from "Tenthers" i.e., the people who slept through the Bush years and only realized liberty was under attack during the Obama administration.
There have been some legal challenges to Section 1021:
- In May 2012, Federal Judge Katherine B. Forrest issued an injunction against Section 1021 of the NDAA for 2012 on the grounds the provision was too vague and posed a threat to Freedom of Speech under the First Amendment.
- As of July, 2013, Section 1021 remains intact.
- Judge Forrest's ruling was unanimously vacated by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on the grounds that nobody has standing to challenge Section 1021 until they've been detained. How someone being detained incommunicado and without access to counsel is supposed to file a legal challenge is unclear.
Climate change denialism
None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to implement the U.S. Global Change Research Program National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, the United Nation’s Agenda 21 sustainable development plan, or the May 2013 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order
It remains to be seen if NDAA 2015 will pass with this amendment.
- The NDAA for 2012 in its entirety.
- NDAA: The Biggest Election Issue No One's Talking About, Even Cracked understands this is bad.
- NDAA: What Obama Hoped You Wouldn't Notice About This Bill, Policy Mic
- "Obama signs NDAA 2014, indefinite detention remains", Salon
- President Obama Signs Infinite Detention Law
- NDAA: Indefinite Detention
- Federal judge blocks National Defense Authorization Act provision, Los Angeles Times, May 18, 2012
- Chris Hedges Responds to NDAA Defeat, Says It’s a ‘Black Day’ for Liberty, truthdig. 17 July 2013
- H.R. 4435 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. McKinley's Amendment is Alteration 145
- "House Votes To Deny Climate Science And Ties Pentagon’s Hands On Climate Change", Ryan Koronowski. Think Progress, May 22, 2014