Top senators thought you wouldn’t notice. Behind closed doors, they wrote up new indefinite detention and Guantánamo provisions in the annual defense policy bill, and then waited 11 days to quietly file the bill.
But we now have the bill, and everyone can read it. And everyone should understand what is in this new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before the full Senate makes a big mistake and paves the way for Guantánamo-style indefinite detention being brought to the United States itself.
The new Senate NDAA:
Brings Indefinite Detention to the U.S. Itself: The bill now says that detainees may be brought to the United States for “detention pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force” (AUMF). In plain English, that means the policy of indefinite detention by the military, without charge or trial, could be carried out here at home. Right now, the number of people in the U.S. in military indefinite detention is zero. If the bill is enacted, that number could immediately jump to 100 or more.
Bolsters Claims of NDAA and AUMF Indefinite Detention Authority: The AUMF is the basis for the indefinite detention authority included in the NDAA that Congress passed nearly three years ago. Indefinite detention is wrong today and certainly cannot be sustained past the end of U.S. combat in the Afghan war. But passing a new Senate NDAA that relies on detention authority based on the AUMF, just as the U.S. combat role in the war is winding down, could be used by the government to bolster its claim that indefinite detention can just keep on going. Even when any actual U.S. combat is over.