—————————————————————————————————————————————————— The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed through both houses and was recently signed by President Obama. The Act allots $662 billion, “for the defense of the United States.” This defense involves military health care costs, counter-terrorism, military modernization, as well as establishing economic sanctions against Iran and refocusing the strategic goals of NATO towards energy security. The part that is being hotly opposed is the counter-terrorism part and it’s detainee laws.
The entire Bill can be read if you copy and paste the link below. Careful, there is also some really graphic stuff about sexual misconduct. Scroll down to sections 1031 and 1032 to read specifically about the new detainee information.
The military is required, through the passing of this law, to detain those thought to be tied with al Qaeda. “ For foreign nationals accused of being members of Al Qaeda, military detention is mandatory; for U.S. citizens, it is optional. This section does not exempt U.S citizens from the presidential power of military detention: only from the requirement of military detention.”
The death of Anwar al-Awlaki involved a decision made by President Obama to kill an American citizen without a trial. There was much discussion about the legal aspects of killing an American citizen accused of being an al Qaeda operative. Doctrines and previous supreme court judgements deemed it permissable to kill him if capturing him was not feasible. Another American named Sam Khan was also killed but was not targeted. He was “collateral damage”. Mr Khan’s family is petitioning a law suit. Awlaki and Khan were killed by a missile strike in Yemen. The Yemeni government secretly gave permission to the United States military to do so. This secret permission was revealed by wikileaks.
So there are sound reasons congress and the President might seek the ability to detain, capture or kill persons tied with al Qaeda. They would like to be able to stop people like Awlaki before the bomb gets on the flight to Detroit or the car bomb is discovered in a SUV in Times Square. They would like to be able to detain people like Awlaki who are plotting, but are currently protected by the rights of being an American. They want to take these people out before they take more innocent lives. This is a good thing eh?
The concern is that this ability will be abused. Where will the definition of al Qaeda activity begin and end? If I wrote a book or a magazine highlighting stories about people who enjoy Taliban rule would I be considered an al Qaeda loyalist and therefore a terrorist? Would I be an enemy of the state if I wrote such a story? Does anyone enjoy the Taliban’s rules? –> why? My sitting here in my American home writing my free American thoughts, could I be deemed supporting terrorism? Could I be detained?
This is the concern of many Americans. Does this new law take it too far? The President should be concerned about taking a life especially an American life without first considering whether the information he’s been given is factual and not just hateful. Awlaki probably needed to be dead and I think the President made a good decision as did the Yemeni government in assisting that decision. Maybe the Yemeni government wanted him dead, maybe the arms dealers wanted him dead, maybe the oil barons wanted him dead?
If we let the dirty deeds of the bad guys destroy our free American life then the bad guys win.