I guess I was lucky that I was pulled off a plane by armed men, frisked, hands and feet splayed on the side of a police car and taken to a police building where I was held, strip searched and interrogated for four hours without really knowing why I was there. I was lucky in that it was before a bill like the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 was passed.
If I was held under the NDAA’s proposed guidelines, I could have been shipped off to Guantánamo and held indefinitely without trial.
A Michigan Democrat, Sen. Carl Levin, wrote the language that would allow the military to hold anyone — U.S. citizens and non — suspected of terrorism for as long as it wants without the constitutional promise of a trial. Not only does the NDAA violate the constitution, but it would be another step toward a xenophobic police state where suspicious behavior is just as good as hard evidence.
It’s scary to think that in my case, I could be suspected of terrorism just for sitting next to two Indian men who needed to use the bathroom on an airplane and remained indisposed a little too long. That means anyone who “looks” threatening or “acts” threatening, to which there are no clear guidelines, could be shipped off to a military prison with a reputation for torturing its prisoners and stripped of their civil liberties, including due process . No, it’s not just scary, it’s unjust and corrupt.
The ACLU had this to say about the bill:
“This bill puts military detention authority on steroids and makes it permanent. If it becomes law, American citizens and others are at real risk of being locked away by the military without charge or trial.”
“Based on suspicion alone, no place and no person are off-limits to military detention without charge or trial.”
President Obama has threatened to veto it, saying:
“Any bill that challenges or constrains the President’s critical authorities to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the Nation would prompt the President’s senior advisers to recommend a veto.”
Retired four-star Marine generals wrote an op-ed in the New York Times saying:
“…some in Congress are all too willing to undermine our ideals in the name of fighting terrorism.”
Let’s hope for all our sakes that Obama vetoes the bill—even if he’s doing it for the wrong reasons.
- Wired: Senate Wants the Military to Lock You Up Without Trial
- New York Times: Guantánamo Forever?
- Huffington Post: National Defense Authorization Act: House and Senate Negotiators Agree on Bill Hoping to Avoid Obama Veto