On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but New Jersey Democrat Lisa McCormick said Congress or the courts must repeal the law, which for the first time in American history authorizes indefinite military detention without charge or trial.
“This law’s dangerous provisions would authorize President Obama and all future presidents to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people anywhere in the world,” said McCormick. “This worldwide detention authority violates the Constitution and international law because it is not limited to people captured in an actual armed conflict, as required by the laws of war.”
McCormick previously protested President Bush’s enactment of the Patriot Act, on October 26, 2001, allowing non-U.S. citizens suspected as terrorists to be detained without trial until the War on Terrorism ended.
“I said it was wrong when the Bush administration claimed the authority to hold people without charges in military custody, and it is still wrong whether it is done in secret or out in the open,” said McCormick.
“military detention of American citizens or anyone else in the United States would be unconstitutional and illegal,” said McCormick. “Congress – which allowed a small group to negotiate in secret and without proper review – and the President – who expressed ‘serious reservations’ about the NDAA’s detention provisions – are guilty of betraying fundamental American values.”
Obama issued a ‘signing statement’ saying his administration would use the NDAA’s detention authority, but McCormick said that would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent presidents.
“Both Congress and the president need to clean up the mess they have created,” said McCormick. “No one should live in fear of this government abusing the NDAA’s authority, which could be read to repeal the Posse Comitatus Act and authorize indefinite military detention without charge or trial within the United States. These dangerous provisions must be repealed.”