President Barack Obama desecrated the Constitution that he and I swore to defend when he signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which includes language violating the Bill of Rights and other constitutionally protected liberties.
The NDAA affirms that the president has the authority to use the Armed Forces to detain any person “who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”
Under the law, the president also may lock up anyone who commits a “belligerent act” against the U.S. or its coalition allies “without trial, until the end of the hostilities.” The law embraces the notion that the U.S. military can be used even domestically to arrest an American citizen or anyone else who falls under such suspicion – and it is “suspicion” because a trial can be avoided indefinitely.
Yes, I know that the Obama administration’s allies got some wording put in to say that “nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the  Authorization for Use of Military Force,” nor shall the NDAA “be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.”
And there were some waivers stuck in to give the president discretion over whether to send someone into the gulag of the Military Commissions system possibly for the rest of a detainee’s life, given the indefinite nature of what was formerly called the “war on terror” and what the Pentagon has dubbed the Long War.
It’s true as well that after signing the NDAA on New Year’s Eve, President Obama engaged in some handwringing. He expressed “serious reservations” about some of the law’s provisions and declared, “I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.” He added that he would interpret the law “in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.”
But those who hoped that Barack Obama, the onetime constitutional law professor, would begin rolling back the aggressive assault on civil liberties that President George W. Bush began after the 9/11 attacks must be sorely disappointed.
Those existing laws – including the original post-9/11 use-of-military-force authorization and the Military Commissions Act passed in 2006 and modified in 2009 – opened the door for presidents to declare anyone of their choice, American citizen or non-citizen alike, an “enemy combatant” and to subject the person to military prison or even assassination.
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