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ACLU deputy legal director: NDAA ‘still awful’ despite changes

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at ACLU, said Wednesday night that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 was still highly problematic despite changes to the bill.

“It was an awful bill before and it is an awful bill now,” he told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.

Provisions within the legislation would authorize the U.S. to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists anywhere in the world without charge or trial, and require them to be held in military custody. Civil liberties advocates and others were furious at lawmakers for the broad scope of the provision, which could have allowed U.S. citizens on U.S. soil to be indefinitely detained without trial.

Obama threatened to veto the entire bill because of the provisions, which he said were “inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.”

The latest version of the bill, drafted by the House-Senate conference committee, kept the provisions. But it exempted U.S. citizens from the requirement for terror suspects to be held in military custody and included language stating that the bill did not extend new authority to detain U.S. citizens.

Due to the changes, the White House announced Wednesday it would not veto the bill.

“It is a bill that would make permanent as an American law this fixture of worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial, it is a bill that would further militarize counter-terrorism policy, it is a bill that would make it harder to close Guantanamo,” Jaffer added.

“It has all the problems that we identified earlier and it is really quite astonishing and disappointing that President Obama is withdrawing his veto threat.”

“This theory that we have indefinite detention authority, the power to detain people picked up anywhere in the world without charge or trial until the end of hostilities — whatever that means — that is a power that many other countries are uncomfortable with and that many people in the United States are uncomfortable with,” he added.

“Even the Obama administration we thought was uncomfortable with it, until today, but apparently President Obama was willing to go to bat for presidential power.”

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  1. Andrew says

    I think there is no doubt that the bill will be signed. I am absolutely surprised and shocked to see how legislation like this can even be considered. Looking at this issue from the perspective of someone outside of the U.S, it appears the general public are totally ignorant of what this bill actually means. I’m afraid if the U.S continues to behave like this, other countries may also do the same. We can only hope the the voice of the public will be heard and there wishes granted.



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