Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

What is the 'indefinite detention' bill?

Since its Senate approval several days ago, controversy has been mounting over a military authorization bill referred to as the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which President Obama is expected to sign. At the core of the controversy is a provision allowing for the long-term military detention of individuals accused of terrorism, including U.S. citizens, "without trial until the end of the hostilities."

The bill does not pertain to immigrant detention, which is carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. However, civil rights groups who deal with immigrants, including Muslim civil rights organizations, have been among those voicing opposition, fearing further codification of war-on-terror practices that over the years have landed a number of innocent people in federal custody and, in some cases, eventually in deportation proceedings.

Salon's Glenn Greenwald has been closely following the NDAA over the course of several posts, including this recent "three myths" post in which he interprets the detention aspect:

It simply cannot be any clearer within the confines of the English language that this bill codifies the power of indefinite detention. It expressly empowers the President " with regard to anyone accused of the acts in section (b) " to detain them "without trial until the end of the hostilities." That is the very definition of "indefinite detention," and the statute could not be clearer that it vests this power. Anyone claiming this bill does not codify indefinite detention should be forced to explain how they can claim that in light of this crystal clear provision.

It is true, as I"ve pointed out repeatedly, that both the Bush and Obama administrations have argued that the 2001 AUMF implicitly (i.e., silently) already vests the power of indefinite detention in the President, and post-9/11 deferential courts have largely accepted that view (just as the Bush DOJ argued that the 2001 AUMF implicitly (i.e., silently) allowed them to eavesdrop on Americans without the warrants required by law). That"s why the NDAA can state that nothing is intended to expand the 2001 AUMF while achieving exactly that: because the Executive and judicial interpretation being given to the 2001 AUMF is already so much broader than its language provides.

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