The Senate is set to vote on a bill next week that would define the whole of the United States as a “battlefield” and allow the U.S. Military to arrest American citizens in their own back yard without charge or trial.
“The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself,” writes Chris Anders of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.
Under the ‘worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial’ provision of S.1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which is set to be up for a vote on the Senate floor Monday, the legislation will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who supports the bill.
The bill was drafted in secret by Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), before being passed in a closed-door committee meeting without any kind of hearing. The language appears in sections 1031 and 1032 of the NDAA bill.
“I would also point out that these provisions raise serious questions as to who we are as a society and what our Constitution seeks to protect,” Colorado Senator Mark Udall said in a speech last week. One section of these provisions, section 1031, would be interpreted as allowing the military to capture and indefinitely detain American citizens on U.S. soil. Section 1031 essentially repeals the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 by authorizing the U.S. military to perform law enforcement functions on American soil. That alone should alarm my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but there are other problems with these provisions that must be resolved.”
This means Americans could be declared domestic terrorists and thrown in a military brig with no recourse whatsoever. Given that the Department of Homeland Security has characterized behavior such as buying gold, owning guns, using a watch or binoculars, donating to charity, using the telephone or email to find information, using cash, and all manner of mundane behaviors as potential indicators of domestic terrorism, such a provision would be wide open to abuse.
“American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?” asks Anders.
The ACLU is urging citizens to call their Senator and demand that the Udall Amendment be added to the bill, a change that would at least act as a check to prevent Americans being snatched off the streets without some form of Congressional oversight.
(Thanks to David Cox)
UPDATE: David Cox emails:
Earlier I emailed you about the report from prisonplanet.com that indicated the new NDAA created a battleground in the entire US and would allow for the detainment of US citizens without charges. The section referenced was 1031 and 1032. Section 1032 follows and specifically exempts US citizens from detention in military custody. You should issue a correction...
SEC. 1032. REQUIREMENT FOR MILITARY CUSTODY.
- (b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-
- (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
- (2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.
UPDATE 3 Eric Phillips emails:
Concerning your update of the "Senate Set to Vote on Bill that Defines the U.S. as a Battlefield," the ACLU is warning that the provision that exempts U.S. citizens doesn't apply to the worst part of the bill. Here's their response (http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/senators-demand-military-lock-american-citizens-battlefield-they-define-being):
Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1013 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.
But you don’t have to believe us. Instead, read what one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham said about it on the Senate floor: “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”
There you have it — indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial. And the Senate is likely to vote on it Monday or Tuesday.