Obama Rings in the New Year with Indefinite Detentions

As many of us in the US and around the world have been celebrating the beginning of a new year this past week as well as the Gurpurab of Guru Gobind Singh, a new draconian law has been brought upon us in the United States with near silence from the mainstream media. On New Year’s Eve, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes provisions that allow the US military to round up and indefinitely detain people, including US citizens, without any charge or trial.

Obama himself originally threatened to veto the bill if the language of indefinite decision wasn’t taken out. Yet he proceeded to sign the bill into law as we move into 2012, perhaps giving him the legacy, as Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth states, ” as the president who legalized indefinite detention without trial or cause.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) states:

We are extremely disappointed that President Obama signed this bill even though his administration is already claiming overly-broad detention authority in court. Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back those claims dimmed today. Thankfully we have three branches of government, and the final word on the scope of detention authority belongs to the Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on the scope of detention authority. But Congress and the president also have a role to play in cleaning up the mess they have created because no American citizen or anyone else should live in fear of this or any future president misusing the NDAAs detention authority.

I have talked elsewhere about what a Sikh approach to justice might look like (and might not look like). What is clear is that the NDAA threatens our very basic values, values which countless others in this country share, like individual freedom, the dignity of each and every human being, and a vehement disdain for tyranny.

Indeed, tyranny is what we are dealing with here.

These are the provisions that are causing the very justified outrage from civil liberties advocates:

  • Section 1021: Allows the U.S. military to indefinitely detain, without due process, any person engaged in “hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners … without trial until the end of hostilities.”
  • Section 1022 states that the military will imprison anyone who is a member of al-Qaeda or “an associated force” that acts like al-Qaeda; and anyone who planned or carried out an attack, or attempted attack, against the U.S.
  • Section 1022 continues that detaining American citizens is not required. “United States Citizens The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.” (see the full NDAA here)

Don’t be fooled by the language about US citizens in provision 1032. As Jonathan Turley states in the Guardian:

The Obama administration and Democratic members are in full spin mode using language designed to obscure the authority given to the military. The exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032) is the screening language for the next section, 1031, which offers no exemption for American citizens from the authorisation to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial.

You can take action and support the ACLU’s campaign to fight the authorization of indefinite detentions by signing here. As we reflect on our tenth Guru’s legacy, hopefully we can come up with many more ways to fight this and stand up for justice.

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2 Responses to “Obama Rings in the New Year with Indefinite Detentions”

  1. ikaas says:

    Thank you for this very insightful and important post. It is very alarming to hear about the NDAA law and the continued threat to basic human rights in the US.

  2. sjsrana says:

    Too late to report this?

    Those that ignored 1984 can't speak now, since they elected to "keep quite" and endorsed "ignorance is strength"!

    Sat Dec 03 2011 http://beforeitsnews.com/story/1458/389/1984_acro
    @sjsrana – twitter