Additions to National Defense Authorization Act Undermine Federal Courts, Weaken Nation

Washington, D.C.Today, the Senate Armed Services Committee finalized language in the National Defense Authorization Act that promotes sweeping changes that would undermine our nation’s counter terrorism strategy. C. Dixon Osburn of Human Rights First responded, “The bill transforms our armed forces into judge, jury and jailor for terrorism suspects. That is not a role the military seeks; it undermines our federal courts; and it weakens our nation.” The bill codifies authority to detain individuals without trial, undermining the ability of federal courts, acting under the Constitution, to make reasonable determinations regarding how Guantanamo detainees should be dealt with. The bill also requires that a broad category of terrorism suspects be held indefinitely in military custody, undermining the ability of law enforcement to take quick, decisive action to prevent and punish terrorists on a global basis. The bill also make permanent, absent waiver by the Secretary of Defense, transfer restrictions barring transfer of prisoners held at Guantanamo, even ones who are innocent and the government has cleared for release. The majority of prisoners currently held at Guantanamo have been cleared for release. Osburn said, “Combining expanded military custody with the transfer restrictions at Guantanamo may turn the prison into a lobster trap, where suspects get put in, but can never get out.” The bill now moves to the Senate floor. The Obama administration issued a veto threat on analogous provisions in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act. Osburn said: “The Obama administration should weigh in to make clear that these provisions weaken our security. The administration should make clear that it will veto the NDAA if the final bill contains the proposals that have come out of committee.”


Published on June 17, 2011


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