When President Obama puts his signature to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be remembering with much regret four years back.
As you probably know the NDAA allows for the indefinite detention of anyone, including Americans and legal residents, without charge and without trial. It shreds our Bill of Rights right down to it's core. And it is frightening. And he will sign it.
Let me refresh everyone's collective memory, so you can understand the depth of my sadness, and the firmness of my resolve to never be fooled and used again.
Obama's email list (which we were all on) contained almost 13 million addresses.
About a million people signed up for Obama's text messaging system. People received about 5-20 texts per month and was divided into states, regions, cities, zip codes, and colleges.
MyBarackObama.com had 2 million profiles, 200,000 offline events, 400,000 blog posts, and 35,000 volunteer groups.
On his Facebook page 3.2 million signed up as supporters. More than 5.4 million clicked on his I Voted button. Students for Barack Obama was so successful it was made a formal part of his campaign organization.
6.5 million donations were made raising $500 million dollars. Of those donations, 6 million were $100 or less.
And what happened to all this organization that cost so much of our collective energies to build?
Well, it was thrown away. Tossed into the same dustbin as were all those inspiring campaign promises.
When President Obama signs the NDAA remember this. And ask yourself if it would have been better to spend all that energy building our own organizations, our own movement for change, and our own independent power base.
You can find many articles about NDAA if you aren't already aware of it's details, including this by Glenn Greenwald in Salon: Three Myths About the Detention Bill
I recommend this article by David Cole, Georgetown University Law Center, in the NY Times Book Review very highly as well: A Bill of Rights for Some.
Here are some especially important quotes from Cole's article.
Equally problematic, the law puts Congress’s stamp on a dubious—and untested—interpretation of military detention authority. The law provides that indefinite detention without charge may be imposed on anyone who has provided “substantial support” to groups that are “associated forces” of al-Qaeda; but it leaves undefined what constitutes “substantial support” and which groups might qualify as “associated forces.” Thus far, the lower federal courts have upheld detention of al-Qaeda or Taliban members, but not mere supporters, much less supporters of associated forces. And there is much dispute about whether the laws of war permit detention in those circumstances. Now Congress has essentially predetermined that question. Unless this and future administrations construe these provisions as limited by the laws of war, they risk authorizing detention that the laws of war would not.
As I noted in my earlier blog post, the military has determined, after careful review of all the remaining detainees at Guantanamo, that more than half of them don’t need to be there. They have been cleared for release. But as a practical matter, Congress’s law cuts off all options for getting them out. Under the laws of war, military custody is lawful only where necessary to keep an enemy fighter from returning to the battle. To hold a person our own military has determined does not pose that threat is plainly illegal, and violates the most fundamental right of liberty. Yet Congress’s law mandates it. And President Obama has now agreed to sign it.