Senate set to pass bill that redefines America as a "battlefield," authorizes indefinite military detention of US citizens without charge or trial

The US Senate's Defense Authorization Bill redefines America as a "battlefield" and authorizes US troops to conduct military arrests of civilians on US soil, and to indefinitely detain citizens without charge or trial. The ACLU wants you to write to your senator and demand that this insanity not pass.

The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night’s Republican debate. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.

The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday. The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.

I know it sounds incredible. New powers to use the military worldwide, even within the United States? Hasn’t anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too? And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?

Senators Demand the Military Lock Up American Citizens in a “Battlefield” They Define as Being Right Outside Your Window (via JWZ)


  1. Maybe this is intended as an anti-OWS measure? Quietly suspend habeas corpus and lock up the protesters?

  2. This is the inevitable result once you classify terrorist attacks as acts of “war” rather than “mass murder.” If the justice system was good enough to prosecute and convict that POS Timothy McVeigh then there’s no reason it can’t work for other terrorists too.

    1. This is a jobs bill! They’re looking to employ tens of thousands of military personnel domestically. When the troops are recalled from foreign occupations, they’re going to need jobs! You expect them to go back and work at Burger King? Why are you opposed to the employment of our veterans?!?


    2. Absolutely!  Exception to due process for “acts of war” are for when you have an enemy threatening the very existence of the country and it’s survival mode time.  911 was easily the largest single terrorist act our country has faced and yet there wasn’t even a remote threat to our sovereignty.

      This all about a power grab/making Obama look weak on terrorism when he(hopefully) vetos it.

    1. didn’t the president say he would veto this if it ever came to him? tempest, meet teapot, a little?

      I sure hope he does but there aren’t a whole lot of historical examples of U.S. Presidents turning down new powers offered to them by Congress. And a lot of these legislators will still be in power when the next President is sworn in—whether that happens one year from now or five.

    2. That would be the same president who before he was president assured the American people he would filibuster the telecom immunity bill, and then voted FOR it when it came up? The same one who said he would end the abuses of the Bush presidency and then expanded them when he got the opportunity?  Probably you will be voting for him again, too, right? You are slow learner, yes?

      1. Probably you will be voting for him again, too, right? You are slow learner, yes?

        Who the else are we supposed to fucking vote for?  Newt?  Bachmann?  Romney? Perry?  Please.

        Our choices are total shit, as usual.  Indeed, I’d say we really don’t have a choice.  And yet you point fingers, pretending like we actually have a fucking choice in the matter.  I also like how you make grand assumptions about someone and how you *think* they are going to vote, after one simple comment.  Do you even know that they voted for Obama?  Nope, you don’t, but to make yourself feel superior and to stroke your own ego, you pretend you do.

        At least Obama isn’t anti-intellectual, like every single one of the “viable” Republican candidates. 

        Seriously, we don’t have a choice.  We never have.  Stop pretending like we do.

        And fucking christ, Obama isn’t perfect (far, far, far from it) and presidents ALWAYS pander, but at least it isn’t McCain that is now president. Can you imagine?

        1. People with half a wit would learn how to vote third party, like the rest of the world. Unfortunately, Americans don’t seem to be that smart, even. It’s folks EXACTLY LIKE YOU who are responsible for the mess we’re in, oh self-righteous one with anger-management problem.

          Go ahead, beat me up, I don’t mind because I’m speaking the truth, not the banal stupidity you represent. As long as voters insist on voting for the lesser of the two evils they will continue to get evil, nothing else. When that changes, the government will change, not before, bloodshed excepted. Continuing to vote for a liar and turncoat will not help things one bit.

          1. Until the political climate in our country changes and we are no longer a two-party political system, then, yes, it is throwing your vote away, because the reality is that enough Americans WILL NOT, this election or the next or the next, vote for a third-party candidate.  The two-party system has been engrained in our culture for far, far too long, not to mention the fact that if you don’t have MAJOR money, you won’t get elected, period, and there are NO other parties with money to back them up.

            Hopefully things will begin to change.  The fact that Ron Paul is a serious candidate, even though he has to run as a Republican, is actually a good sign.  I don’t particularly like him, but I like that there is another option, and one that isn’t just a joke.  But, even he has to run as a Republican.  And for a reason.  We can’t ignore that.

          2. “Until the political climate in our country changes and we are no longer a two-party political system…”

            That train left the station a long time ago. We have only one major political party, and that is money.

          3. People with half a wit would learn how to vote third party, like the rest of the world.

            You mean like when the Nader crowd put Bush into office?

          4. Funny, I thought the supreme court put him into office.

            You keep voting Democrat, Antinous. Let me know when the Democrats close Gitmo and end our overseas wars.

          5. You keep voting Democrat, Antinous. Let me know when the Democrats close Gitmo and end our overseas wars.

            And you let me know when putting a Republican in office does those things any faster. Do you remember who started those wars?

          6. uh, well…. congress was the group that passed a law essentially prohibiting obama from closing Guantanamo when he partially/kind of attempted to do so, and the war in iraq is ending right on schedule, despite a lot of pissing and moaning from some of the same senators who created this legislation.

            but obama gets all the blame cause he didn’t do everything you wanted, including the policies you projected onto him that he never even advocated, like ending the afgan war any earlier than it was already schedule to end. i watched obama a lot in the 2008 election and i never once heard him promise to end the afgan war on any sort of expedient time table. 

            the fact that he has fulfilled or partially fulfilled SOME of his campaign promises puts him above a lot of politicians. and some of his failures have been beyond his control. he isn’t an amazing president maybe, but we haven’t had 44 amazing presidents. before him we had perhaps the worst ever. who is YOUR candidate? 

          7. Obama gets the blame because he didn’t do a damn thing I wanted (or he said he’d do, which was why I voted for him).

            Gitmo open still? Check.
            War in Iraq still? Check.
            War in Afghanistan still? Check.
            Secret government prisons overseas? Hmm…probably check but who really knows anymore?
            Warrantless wiretapping? Check.

            You get the point (or, actually, you probably don’t).

          8. Obama, the first president to openly admit to ordering the murder of a US citizen without due process of law? That Obama?

            No, I’ll vote for a bat shit crazy warmongering Republican before I vote for him again. At least with the Republican, I’ll know where he actually stands…


          9. I thought the registered Democrats who voted for Bush in Florida did it. Or the people who voted for Bush period.

            I’m not under any moral obligation to vote strategically. Strategic voting doesn’t “work” on an individual level since it’s statistically invalid. You need many voters all thinking that way- at which point the question becomes: Why am I obligated to vote for a party that doesn’t represent my values? When my city is sued because the police do something illegal- I pay in the end because I bear a practical legal responsibility as a taxpayer. But if I never voted the police chief in, then my moral responsibility is limited, compared to voting for him strategically because the other candidate was truly horrible, instead of the truly competent third candidate.

            If the rule is that you don’t negotiate with terrorists, then I refuse to vote for a party whose candidates run on the terrorist platform, “Vote for me. I won’t listen to anything you say, but if you don’t, then the monsters will just have to get you.”

            But if we’re talking strategy, the more strategic vote is to vote for the monster, and make it beholden to your support.

          10. You mean like when the Nader crowd put Bush into office?

            Perhaps, but that also played a part in getting Obama in office (you know, sometimes have to get really, really bad before people notice).

            Now, the Obama thing doesn’t seem to have worked out, but the point still stands: until we start taking a long-term view (like, if we vote our conscience, what will things be like in 16 years?, as opposed to the next election), our long-term prospects will suck.

            You know, a lot of folks justify the OWS movement not because they’ve necessarily accomplished anything tangible, but because they’re changing the conversation. And that isn’t necessarily an unreasonable position. Voting third-party can change the conversation too. The two main parties control the current conversation — they’re in bed that way. And that’s not a good thing.

            So yea, if you vote for a Nader you’re voting for a looser, but in today’s political climate, perhaps that should be a point of pride.

          11. Yes, of course, we need to learn how to vote third-party, but I’m a realistic sort of person.  IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN THIS ELECTION.  The fact that Ron Paul has to run as a Republican is a good indication of that.  It just isn’t going to happen. 

            And why am I the problem?  I realize that we need to vote third-party, but I also realize that the majority of Americans ARE NOT going to vote third-party. It is not going to happen.  Period.  And so, if I do vote for a third-party?  My vote has been wasted.  And so would yours.  Because right here, right now, for this particular election, it is a two-party system, and we need to keep that in mind. 

            Especially if we have a choice between Obama and, say, Romney.  Why would you throw your vote away and risk Romney, or any of the other nutter butter Republican “candidates”, getting elected?

            And anger management problems?  Okay, then.  Thanks for the tone argument!   (You really like to pat yourself on the back and make yourself feel superior to others, don’t you?) You were the one that made assumptions about someone you don’t even know, based on one little question that they asked.

            But of course I’m fucking angry.  And so are you.  And we have every right to be angry.  Our leaders are shit, and we have no other choice but to choose a slightly-less-shitty president.

            Romney. Cain. Newt. Bachman. Romney.



            I would certainly hope you’d vote for Obama with choices like that.

          12. Sorry, I’m never voting for Obama again. He’s failed in just about every promise made and continued the policies of his Republican predecessor. Screw him and all of those who follow.

          13. And so, if I do vote for a third-party?  My vote has been wasted.  And so would yours.

            Since when it using your vote to express your conscience a “waste?”

            I don’t know what you learned in civics class, but apparently mine was substandard. They never taught me that voting was about picking the winner, and that voting for the looser was a waste.

          14. While it isn’t a waste, picking a loser is certainly justifiably called “losing.”

            At this point, being a US citizen could justifiably be called “losing” too.

            Maybe I’m just biased by the people I know, but it seems to me that “strategic voting” — i.e., not voting for the candidate that you want, but voting to make sure the less-evil candidate gets elected — really started taking off in the late 80’s/early 90’s. It also seems to me that things also started deteriorating at about that time. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but it at least makes one wonder.

            I also think that this is one of the reasons that the Republicans have been eating the Democrats lunch a lot lately, despite the fact that their candidates are laughable. Almost every Democrat I speak with goes to great length to vote strategically, whereas the Republicans I speak with vote their desires.

            The Democrats shoot themselves in the foot more often than not.

            (And the Republicans shoot everyone else in the foot, for which see my above comment about being a US citizen.)

            A few election cycles ago I spoke to a lot of Democrats who were really, really  excited about Howard Dean. In fact, almost every Democrat I spoke with was really excited. But in the end almost none of them voted for him, because they were afraid he would be “unelectable” in a general election. Maybe they were right, but I know he’d be unelectable if not nominated, and IMO if the Dems would have voted for him (like they wanted to) we wouldn’t have ended up with Bush

          15. i can’t wait to vote for these awesome, truly better 3rd party candidates. i mean, Ross Perot was what this country needed in 92, not clinton. and nader and ron paul are the types who have the true, completely ideologically pure, totally impractical in a political system based on compromise, vision to get this country where it needs to be!

            seriously, i just named every 3rd party presidential candidate I can remember from my lifetime. hell Ron Paul is running republican so he doesn’t even count. you are shaming people for not voting for them when most americans aren’t even aware of any besides those 3(assuming more exist, i honestly don’t know). why? because the 2 mainstream candidates are obviously evil and the 3rd party guy is inherently good?

            our political system is all about money. lobbying and campaign funds run our whole process. until a 3rd party candidate can raise more money than a multinational corporation or super pac, the only impact they will have on elections is which of the 2 main stream candidates they took your vote away from. 

          16. “Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.”

            –Tony Kushner

            And if you really want to understand why third parties don’t work in American politics, study some game theory.  “The two-party system” isn’t mandated by any law; it’s just the inevitable outcome of people behaving like people in a first-past-the-post electoral system.

            Rail against that all you like, but unless you can change ether the electoral system or human nature, third parties will continue to be also-ran spoilers.

          17. Obligatory qualifier to my comment above:

            There is a possible exception: the high percentage of eligible non-voters in American elections – who frequently outnumber the voters supporting  either major party – makes it ripe for a very charismatic demagogue to yank the rug out from under both parties at once.

            But careful what you wish for – if you think our current crop of candidates is bad, take a look at the  track record of most charismatic demagogues.

        2. If the choices offered aren’t really choices, quit offering your support to the system by voting for these fake choices. I’m not voting for another Democrat or Republican. Maybe you should stop as well.

          Why caste a meaningless vote for a candidate you hate? Because if you don’t vote then you’ve “thrown it away?” You’ve already thrown it away.

        3. I say vote for the batshit craziest (Bachmann, probably, though it is a tough choice) one and help hasten the inevitable revolution.

          Not even kidding.

        4. vote third party. it does not matter who, the point is to show that you are fed up with the choice of evil or less evil. the choice should really be between better and best.

    3. The problem with this isn’t this specific proposal as I see it, but that it could be part of the slippery slope that leads to, at best, internment camps like we had during WW 2.

      If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile… when they came for me, there was nobody to speak out for me… he who gives up liberty for safety deserves neither… (All paraphrased.)

    4. Didn’t he also say he would reverse the erosion of civil rights brought about by stuff like the Patriot Act, no more unauthorized wiretaps, no warrantless arrests, Gitmo shut down right away etc etc? Just think, did it get better or worse in that regard? In addition to all the old crap now they’ve added porno scanners at airports, and are trying to pass censorship laws for cyberspace. What the POTUS says and what he does may not always match up.

    1. that was one worryingly sane read, especially this part:

      “too many police bosses treat their frontline officers as dependent children, which helps explain why many of them behave more like juvenile delinquents than mature, competent professionals.”

      And it reminds me of a claim that when a German town removed all the traffic signs, people took more responsibility in driving correctly. Just one example where rules can become a scapegoat for carelessness…

    1. your naivete is admirable.

      hardcore republicans have been impervious to rational thought for quite some time- their only allegiance is to order and (conservative republican) authority.

      if things swing your way- i’ll buy you a coke

  3. Here is my comment sent to my Senator:

    This piece of legislation shoved into the Defense Authorization Bill is one of the worst attempts at destroying the country and what it stands for that I have ever seen.  The fact that the armed forces committee passed this and sent it to the floor sickens me.  I will never vote for, support, or help fund anyone who does not actively fight this provision.  I have two brothers in the service right now.  I would rather see the army collapse and have them have to use their own credit cards to fly home privately from an over seas deployment than see this bill pass with this Un-American totalitarian garbage in it.

    Ok, so beyond that statement.

    I think that this bill is probably 50% “lets see if we can sneak this by” and 50% lets see if we can get Obama to veto it thus collapsing the war effort and making him the villain again.
    Its a win win for the republicans (as they see it) and it will give them something else to squawk about other than “we are the 1% and we love big banks and there is nothing wrong with taking money from the Koch brothers”

    1. “No question now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”- George Orwell, Animal Farm

        1. Yep… and restated the veto threat last night.  WTF was the Sith Lord doing at the GOP senate caucus meeting?

          “Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) emerged from the meeting — where former Vice President Dick Cheney was in attendance — saying his colleagues had “a spirited discussion” about Udall’s amendment, and predicted nearly all Republicans would oppose the amendment, as they did.”

        2. but he recently made a speech that promoted this sort of thing. perhaps he just wants the bill better written… sorry, maddow frequently interrupts and cuts up the speech, but i dont think that significantly changes the message. 

  4. Good thing that I have friends and family overseas, and a passport/citizenship in an EU/Schengen Zone nation.  Worse comes to worse, I’m outta here.  This is nuts.

    1. Just keep in mind that things are spiraling out of control on this side of the Atlantic as well. Two nations have already gone “technocrat” (the latest euphemism for authoritarian, apparently), with more likely to follow…

    2. I think you must have skipped this bit:
      “And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime.”
      America already has extradition treaties with EU countries that are horribly unbalanced; America can demand an EU citizen be extradited with only the flimsiest of evidence against them. The evidence requirements for a US citizen to be extradited to the EU a very much stricter. There might be a small country in South-East Asia that could offer some sanctuary, though life may be a little more frugal in North Korea…

  5. Is it just me, or is Congress the only one escalating force?  Sooner or later there is going to be another shot heard round the world, and it’s going to be military firing on US citizens.

  6. As terrifying as this is, understand that this is and has been reality for most of the world’s population for a long time.  And in fact, it has been reality for even US citizens on US soil.  Yes, people get disappeared by the government in the US.  And it’s not because of UFOs or 9/11 Truth or any other sexy conspiracies.  It’s because of banal forces like racism and corrupt police departments.

    Of course, it’s completely illegal…but what does that have to do with anything?  You think if this gets voted down that people will stop disappearing?  There is only one thing that will stop people disappearing, and it’s not related to this bill one way or the other.  It’s us, all of us, as a society, taking power away from the government that tries to do these things to us.  Because it doesn’t matter what the law or even the constitution says…they won’t stop doing it until we make it impossible for them to continue.

    1. zik zak sees things clearly! these are people who will stop only when made to stop. power is the only language they speak- they have no moral compass.

      they will continue until the people- en masse- refuse to cooperate. like Tahrir Square. join #ows as soon as possible in order to get out in front of the curve.

  7. “even Ron Paul”

    You jest. He’s usually pretty outspoken about this sort of thing. I don’t think his opposition is really a surprise.

    1. While I think Ron Paul would be a disaster because he’s a delusional libertarian…

      I sometimes do wonder if Democrat Ron Paul would be better than our current Republican Obama overall?

  8. The main thing the Republicans learned from 9/11 was that keeping the public terrified makes them easier to manipulate. They’ve been actively doing it ever since.

    And, yes,  I’m disappointed in Obama but the Republicans are intolerable and the system currently makes third parties nonviable until/unless one of the majors completely self-destructs. Having someone not live up to my best hopes beats having someone live down to my worst fears.

    1. These types of bills are enacted to maintain the status quo – keeping the democrats & republicans in control…  the sad thing is, that the public’s bi-partisan bickering keeps America un-united, and therefore ensures the status quo – and corrupt leaders kept happily in place.  Time for a ROBUST third party – an anti-corruption, pro-small government, fair taxation, right to bare arms, free speech protected platform.  Gosh, the Tea Party & OWS united.

  9. Obligatory authoritarianism: How can our soldiers defend us if they can’t go after all our enemies, foreign and domestic? The civil courts have failed – there is still terrorism, everywhere in the world – so now we need to take the gloves off!

    (And I’m sure that a majority of my countrymen would actually agree with the above. We deserve what we’re getting.)

      1. Did you read the entire comment?  Because that was some obvious sarcasm.  Here’s a hint, taken directly from that comment:

        (And I’m sure that a majority of my countrymen would actually agree with the above. We deserve what we’re getting.)

        1. My guess is that those who support this sort of manoeuvre would see my comment as agreeing with them. And those that don’t will see it as ironic. And that, in itself, is an irony.

      2. Is this sarcastic? If not, it is Obligatorily Stupid.

        Conservatives.  Are they purposefully obtuse or just dense?

    1. Yep, terrorists. They’re EVERYWHERE!

      /looks around
      /no terrorists

      Uh, for a country that’s suffered exactly one serious terrorist incident, you guys really do get worked up. The UK suffered countless “terrorist” bombings from our Irish friends during the 60s-90s, and yet we still managed not to declare war on Ireland, not to bomb the sh*t out of them, and to maintain the rule of law in our own country, and not give our military the unlimited power to arrest whoever and detain them without trial. And that was including batsh*t crazy Maggie Thatch’s reign of terror.

      A certain gentleman once said that the only thing you have to fear is fear itself. I don’t think this was quite what he had in mind.

      1. im glad someone remembers this. by technicality, due to the parliamentary system the germans elected his party (of which he was the leader of) into office, thereby indirectly but knowingly making him chancellor. his consolidation of power afterwards was “legal” too.

  10. Here’s a partial list of supposed Democrats who voted against the Udall amendment, which would have stripped out the worst language:

    Casey (PA), Conrad (ND), Levin (MI), McCaskill (MO), Inouye (HI), Menendez (NJ), Shaheen (NH), Stabenow (MI), plus both senators from Rhode Island

    Only two Republicans voted for the Udall amendment: the junior senator from Illinois and Rand Paul.

          1. The House version was passed last summer. Or do you mean this language is only in the Senate version of the bill?  If so, then it can still be stripped out in the reconciliation committee.

  11. I know there’s a lot of folks commenting here that frown on threats of violence but come on, what other response is there to this kind of bullshit?  If this passes I can think of 100 little piggies who better upgrade to brick houses.  We’re not all sheep down here.

    1. I know there’s a lot of folks commenting here that frown on threats of violence but come on, what other response is there to this kind of bullshit?

      Are you suggesting the solution is that we all physically assault our nearest congressperson? Not trying to argue, exactly—I’m just having a hard time imagining how that scenario would lead to greater protection of our civil rights. It didn’t exactly endear the public to Jared Loughner.

      1. Are you suggesting the solution is that we all physically assault our nearest congressperson?

        Well, I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll…leave the rest to your imagination.  One hint, though: a punch in the face or a bullet through the brain pan don’t really cause any long-term suffering.  I would hope people could get more creative than that.

      2. “What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.” – Thomas Jefferson

        1. Again, please be more specific. If you’re arguing that this is the time and place for violence then at least lay out a plan for who we’re supposed to be shooting/punching/firebombing. Was Jared Loughner on the right track? Why or why not? Who have you assaulted recently?

          Also, quoting Jefferson never really sold me on much. He may have had some good ideas in his time, but I prefer not to blindly follow any advice proffered by someone who raped underage slaves.

  12. This is a DOD land grab in the wake of Iraq “ending,” right? That, and the triggered budget cuts coming in January.

  13. This should be a wakeup call to every American that we need to vote these people out of office ASAP.

    Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) need to be removed from power.  They imperil the our freedom.  They imperil our nation.  I wouldn’t trust these buffoons to be school principles, much less the overlords of our entire country.

    1. Who do we vote into office in their place? 

      I guarantee their replacements will be just as bad. Maybe they won’t focus attention on quite the same subjects, but it’s a certainty that whatever they do level their gaze upon will be fucked up in some spectacular fashion.

      Government is a huge scam, no matter who wins, the people lose.

  14. Isn’t laws like this the reason you have a constitution?

    Obviously it would be better to not have this law passed at all, but wouldn’t it be kicked out by the Supreme Court pretty much straight away?

  15. Am I reading something wrong in the bill?  The part that the article seems to be about (section 1031) is pretty typical Law of War stuff.

    (b) Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows:

    (1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.

    (2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.Aren’t the people this affects the kind of people who would get stashed in a POW camp in pretty much any war ever?  Section 1032 doesn’t apply to US citizens and most legal aliens, and that would be a new flavor of flagrant evil if it did.  Unless I’m missing something in the legalese this *limits* who this can be done to, instead of what exists now where there aren’t much for guidelines at all.

    1. Aren’t the people this affects the kind of people who would get stashed in a POW camp in pretty much any war ever?

      You begin with the flawed premise that the so-called “war on terror” is actually a war. You can’t fight a war against a noun, friend.

    2. “Substantially supported” can mean, in the language of the DHS, “contributed money to a poor-relief charity at a mosque that sent part of its collection overseas to humanitarian aid in the war zone, some of which accidentally wound up in the hands of someone suspected of being an operative for al-Qaeda or Hamas.”  Really.

      Obligatory authoritarianism: The humanitarian aid offered by these charities is a drop in the bucket compared with what the US Government spends in those countries, so they won’t be missed. Shutting them down is just collateral damage in the war on terrorism, and every war has collateral damage. So they have no right to complain.

    3. My reading of the bill is the same.  Section 1032 specifically exempts U.S. citizens.  It also exempts resident aliens for actions within the U.S..  Unless someone can point to a part of the bill that supports the wild claims made here I consider this a “witch hunt”.

  16. Make sure it applies to congress critters first, then let them pass it…
    It will then be open season on them for war crimes for how they are brutalizing the people, lining their own pockets with the resources of the nation while people are starving.
    Bankers will be ripped from their homes for blowing up the economy and sending waves of terror around the globe.

    They want to turn the country into something it should never be, they hope that a few people will still believe the lie of if your “good” people it will never be used against you.  They seem to want to remake us in the image of Russia, where no one will speak out for fear of getting disappeared.  Where secret police monitor everything and keep files on all of us.  Maybe they need to skip ahead a couple of pages in the history books to see what happened to these great architects during the revolution that always follows these sorts of totalitarian moves.

  17. Seriously, WTF? This is horrible, a nightmare in the making.
    And as a Michiganian, I’m ashamed to be “represented” by Carl Levin. Which I intend to act on in the next election.

  18. @boingboing-d14fe370bdf1664c34b258d65f8d3507:disqus  The very first war the United States got into as a nation was against a noun.

    1. The very first war the United States got into as a nation was against a noun.

      Please elaborate. I was under the impression that the American Revolution was a declared war of independence against an actual sovereign state that had an actual military and government. More importantly, a government that could enter into a peace agreement bringing an end to hostilities.

      When you fight a war against a foreign government (or formally organized band of rebels) then you can usually tell when the war is over and eventually most of the combatants who weren’t killed in the fighting get to go home. When you declare war against a noun like “drugs” or “terrorism” or “poverty” then you’ve set yourself up for long-term failure no matter what you do.

  19. Does this mean the Senate is about to declare war on all citizens?

    With some luck, the president will use this power to lock up all senators indefinitely.

  20. I don’t see the problem here at all.  We treat the rest of the world as though it were a battlefield — why should we Americans not be subject to the same whims that we subject the rest of the world to?

    If we’re going to be fair, we should pass this law.  Otherwise, let’s just admit we’re hypocrites and continue treating Team America: World Police as a guideline for our military actions.

    1. Dude, the best check against the war machine is a free and informed citizenry.  I know “informed” is a bit much to ask for, but would you mind not rooting against what few freedoms we still have?

  21. If this doesn’t prove to all Americans that the 1% R/tps are out to control and have power over you, nothing will. The R/tps think it’s so funny. They are one sick group.

  22. If America is to remain free, a stand must be taken somewhere. Arguably it is too late, but the longer we wait, the more blood will be spilled when the day for that inevitably arrives.

    There needs to be unforgettable repercussions against those who vote for indefinite military detention for US citizens on American soil. Veto or not, a clear and unmistakeable message should be sent that this will not be tolerated ever again. 

    Of course, this is America and not a single fucking thing will happen.

    America Uber Alles.

  23. The only way I – an American of Mexican descent – would ever agree to this, is if it meant every member of the 1% was to be arrested and detained and stripped of access to an attorney, money, and cronies.

  24. The government is afraid we are getting ready to riot, like everywhere else and they want to be able to imprison everyone who tries to speak their mind.  If we don’t speak up now, we’ll lose the freedom to speak up.

  25. I’m just curious… how many of you here are doing anything, other than voting, to try to change things, politically, socially, or otherwise? I’m not pointing fingers, just curious. I’m thinking about ramping up my activities in this area.

    1. It’s been about half a year, but I’ve done a lot of volunteering and activism for LGBQT equal rights, because that’s the cause that I hold most close.  That’s key:  Find a cause, or causes, that concern you most, or that you think you can put your passion into, and stick to that.  Try not to spread yourself too thin, or you WILL burn out and give up.  

      Check your city/town for local non-profits. You can always start small. I started out doing data-entry for a local LGBQT organization. Then I became their volunteer coordinator (a few months later), for about a year (still a volunteer myself). I was eventually let ago, along with the rest of the paid and volunteer staff, due to a change in the organization, but I had a lot of fun while it lasted.

      I even went to DC and protested during a Senate hearing a year ago. We were protesting McCain, and DADT specifically, for HERO and GetEqual.  It was fucking awesome (I have the distinct pleasure of being able to say, “I pissed off and made McCain very uncomfortable. In person.”), and it was totally worth it, though it was also one of the most stressful and scary things I’ve done.

      1. I just want to say, as a queer Arizona resident, that you have earned all of my respect. 

        (I sure hope that my Canadian friends have guests rooms, because I’m getting the hell out of here if anything like this bill passes.)

  26. Can I point this out from a ‘foriegners’ point of view (Aussie here)..  Do your elected representatives think America is THAT DANGEROUS!  I know the people don’t.  Many feel quite safe.

    However, if I travel to America, am I voluntarily entering a battlefield?  What happens if I injure myself whilst there, something simple.  Trip and fall..  Have I been injured on a battlefield?  Will my travel insurance have to pay up?  If not, I can’t afford to go to America.  It’s not worth the risk.

    Your politicians can put as many ifs, buts and maybes into their clauses as they want, but that won’t affect AUSTRALIAN insurance companies.  At the end of the day, I was injured on a battlefield.

    Perhaps there are more ramifications than what the pollies think.

  27. Thought you guys might like the nonsense autoresponse I got from Senator Cantwell for my submission of the ACLU letter:

    Dear (sic),
    Thank you for contacting me regarding the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. I appreciate hearing from you on this matter.
    Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) introduced the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 on May 5, 2011.  This legislation was passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee by a vote of 26-0 on November 15, 2011.  The National Defense Authorization Act is enacted each fiscal year to specify the budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense.
    The National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 includes numerous provisions that relate to the treatment of terrorism detainees.  One such provision requires that any detainee caught on U.S. soil must be remanded to the U.S. military for custody.  This provision is strongly opposed by the White House and the Department of Defense; both entities have stated that it will limit current options available to our counter-terrorism officials.
    However, the legislation also allows the Administration to waive the mandatory custody requirement.  The bill also provides for an exemption for any mandatory custody transfer that would interfere with ongoing civilian law enforcement surveillance or interrogation efforts.  Please be assured that I will keep your thoughts should I have the opportunity to vote on these or similar provisions.
    I am profoundly grateful for the service of our brave men and women in the armed services and for the sacrifices they have made to defend and preserve our great nation.  As such, we have an important responsibility to ensure that they have the tools and resources they need to successfully complete their mission and return home safe.  Please be assured that I will continue to work with my colleagues on behalf of the many soldiers in the state of Washington.
    Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter.  You may also be interested in signing up for periodic updates for Washington State residents.  If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.
     Sincerely, Maria CantwellUnited States SenatorFor future correspondence with my office, please visit my website at 

    1. I returned for the same reason but you already posted it.  I don’t think it’s nonsense though.  I think it pretty clearly reads “Yeah, I know.  So what?”

  28. Apparently, the powers that be have identified their greatest enemies, the 99%, and are taking concrete steps to defeat them militarily.

  29. Seriously, if this passes I’m applying for refugee status somewhere because my country scares the living shit out of me.

  30. So, in order to protect us from people who want us to live in the 12th century, we will have all agree to return cheerfully to the 16th? Amirite?

    so yeah, i’ve got a habeus for ya. Habeus Finger.

  31. What the goddamn flaming fuck? America, what’s happened to you?

    I think Godwinning this would almost be appropriate, this time.

  32. So… I go to the ACLU blog which is what this article links to, and start looking around for the text of the portion of the bill that actually does this. I start going through their links, but… nothing. Most of the links just go to a form to fill out to protest. I suppose that I could go read the entire bill, but if we’re just taking all of the opposing politicians words for it, isn’t that a little silly? Let’s see the language in the portion of the bill in question before we start with the histrionics.

    Personally, I think it’s lazy and/or disingenuous to start griping about a bill without putting up the text of the bill that you have a beef with.

    Obviously, if I’m just too blind to have seen the link or actual quote, all of the above was… a joke.

  33. ‘Throwing your vote away’ is the only logical way to express that you don’t see a difference in candidates and don’t care about your vote. If enough people stopped voting, the leaders would be forced to stop pretending this is a democracy. And that’d be something. It may be a long shot, but nobody can look me in the face and tell me that voting for somebody is coherent plan that I should take seriously because that opinon doesn’t pass the smell test.

    1. If enough people stopped voting, the leaders would be forced to stop pretending this is a democracy.

      Actually it’s remarkably easy for political leaders to pretend whatever they want if the citizenry can’t or won’t vote. Corrupt despots make ridiculously implausible claims about election results all the time, and some of the least democratic regimes in the world have “democratic” (or some similar word) right in the name of the country.

      There’s a lot of things wrong with this country but one advantage that the citizenry has going for it is that we can (usually) still count on the candidate who gets the most votes in an election to take office. We’d be pretty foolish to throw that power away.

  34. Laraquod:

    Conversely, if noone votes, they have no reason at all to keep you happy.  They will get into office anyway no matter how angry you are.  Your expressions and demands are meaningless because they’ll still get office without you.  Whilst if you had the power as a people to say “We are the 99% and if you don’t represent us you will NOT get another term”.  Perhaps a more powerful message than “I don’t give a rats….  Keep doing what you are doing”

    1. Since the supreme court installed Bush when Gore won, and now there are electronic voting machines (easily manipulated) how do we know our votes count?

  35. What is this, North Korea?

    American leaders/bankers are lucky that it’s left wing generally shies away from firearms. Once liberals get tired of compulsory anal rape however, the situation will turn violent, and people are going to get hurt. How sad that it has come down to this.

  36. FFS! If this is true I have but one demand for the US govt…. STOP.  BEING.  FUCKING. JERKS/IDIOTS/MEGALOMANIACAL DOUCHE-NOZZLES. And do it like flipping yesterday.

    To the people. STAND. THE. FUCK. UP. NOW!!!

  37. “The US Senate’s Defense Authorization Bill redefines America as a “battlefield” and authorizes US troops to conduct military arrests of civilians on US soil, and to indefinitely detain citizens without charge or trial.”

    No, it doesn’t.

    I guess given 100+ comments of objection and invective of varying degrees of reasonableness, this is a pretty small thing, but if you check the actual text of the bill, you’ll find something that strikes me as perhaps vaguely relevant:


    (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS – The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.

    (2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS – The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States

    Granted, the (2) bit above is veridically worthless, since it just says “This law doesn’t require us to do a thing the Constitution doesn’t allow us to do.”  Duh. 

    But the (1) bit seems to say in pretty clear language that, no, this bill doesn’t require or allow or authorize US troops to conduct military arrests of civilians on US soil, or to detain citizens without charge or trial (*at all*, let alone “indefinitely”).

  38. @Phanatic – I think you’re reading it wrong. This has been parsed all over the net, but the key word is “required” in point one. There’s nothing there about not being authorized.

  39. I see a fairly common theme running through these comments – “When the shit hits the fan, I’m running.” What happened to stand up and fight? (I don’t mean violence.) I don’t see too many people here making any realistic proposals to counter the political shift. (And I fear a shift too far to the left, too, just as much as this shift to the right.) OWS doesn’t count – no plan of action.

    It appears this proposed legislation exempts citizens, regardless of Boing Boing’s misleading (at best) headline proclaiming “authorizes indefinite military detention of US citizens without charge or trial.” Boing Boing, are you being deceitful? Are you lying? Are you mistaken? Or are you bending the truth to forward your own agenda? I’m a liberal, Boing Boingers, but I don’t believe ANYONE’S agenda will, in the long run, succeed if it’s based on anything but the truth.

    1. OWS has only been around since september. give us time – like the saying goes, the pyramids weren’t built in a day!

  40. What do you expect of folks who elected to use the loaded (with all the wrong connotations) term “homeland security” rather than the more reasonable “domestic security”?

  41. From the link above in case people are still confused:

    UPDATE: Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1031 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.

    But you don’t have to believe us. Instead, read what one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham said about it on the Senate floor: “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

    There you have it — indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial. And the Senate is likely to vote on it Monday or Tuesday.

    1. Really appreciate this, been trying to figure this one out and I kept seeing conflicting reports. Here’s the link to the C-Span record of Graham saying that: timemark 07:20:00

  42. Are they kidding me……I served 24 years and 4 tours in Iraq and this is not what I fought and bled for, nor what people personal to me died for.  Our government should be ashamed to even pose such a thing!

    1. I’d hate to see people like you forced to choose between duty to obey orders and defending freedom.  This would be a rotten deal for the military as well as civilians.

  43. Now look, we have to imprison them over here so that we don’t have to imprison them over there. My logic is unpeccable.

  44. 1.  Rent Punishment Park, the film by Peter Watkins
    2.  Watch it.
    3.  Marvel that he criticized for depicting the government could “indefinitely detain citizens without charge or trial” forty years ago.

  45. The problem is politics have become too mired in “teams”. IIRC, roughly you have 25% – 50% – 25% of the people voting left, moderate, and right. You have your hardcore members who will always vote the party line. They get pandered to, often with politicians saying some really stupid things to further polarize themselves. You will note that the Republicans are gong to act way more hard right during the primaries, and swing more moderate during the main election to pander to the moderates.

    I used to think a 3rd party vote was a “wasted” vote. But you know, I just don’t think either side sas a “winner”. Both are going to be as equally shitty, just in different ways. I am thinking maybe – just maybe – if enough people vote for a 3rd party it will energize more 3rd party runners, and to have Rep. and Dem. acting more moderate.

  46. An impressive percentage of US citizens do not vote at all.  With this information in mind, how can a vote for a third party candidate be called a waste?  Compared to not voting at all, how is a third party candidate a waste of a vote?

    Would you vote for a third party candidate for mayor of your town?  For governor of your state?  For your congressional representative?  All of those offices have more impact on your personal life and business than whatever schmuck gets elected president.  You can write “I GO POGO” on your presidential ballot for all the good it does you.

  47. hmm. the headline is certainly scary, and so is the thought of this being possible.. but the text of the bill says otherwise. where is the original source that can prove this will be used AGAINST US citizens?

    heres the bill text in reference to this:

    S.1867National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Placed on Calendar Senate – PCS)
    Subtitle D–Detainee MattersSEC. 1031. AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.(a) In General- Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.(b) Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
    (1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
    (2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.(c) Disposition Under Law of War- The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:
    (1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
    (2) Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (title XVIII of Public Law 111-84)).
    (3) Transfer for trial by an alternative court or competent tribunal having lawful jurisdiction.
    (4) Transfer to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.(d) Construction- Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.(e) Requirement for Briefings of Congress- The Secretary of Defense shall regularly brief Congress regarding the application of the authority described in this section, including the organizations, entities, and individuals considered to be `covered persons’ for purposes of subsection (b)(2).SEC. 1032. REQUIREMENT FOR MILITARY CUSTODY.(a) Custody Pending Disposition Under Law of War-
    (1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (4), the Armed Forces of the United States shall hold a person described in paragraph (2) who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) in military custody pending disposition under the law of war.
    (2) COVERED PERSONS- The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1031 who is determined–(A) to be a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of al-Qaeda; and(B) to have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.
    (3) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR- For purposes of this subsection, the disposition of a person under the law of war has the meaning given in section 1031(c), except that no transfer otherwise described in paragraph (4) of that section shall be made unless consistent with the requirements of section 1033.
    (4) WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY- The Secretary of Defense may, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the Secretary submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States.(b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-
    (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
    (2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.(c) Implementation Procedures-
    (1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall issue, and submit to Congress, procedures for implementing this section.
    (2) ELEMENTS- The procedures for implementing this section shall include, but not be limited to, procedures as follows:(A) Procedures designating the persons authorized to make determinations under subsection (a)(2) and the process by which such determinations are to be made.(B) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not require the interruption of ongoing surveillance or intelligence gathering with regard to persons not already in the custody or control of the United States.(C) Procedures providing that a determination under subsection (a)(2) is not required to be implemented until after the conclusion of an interrogation session which is ongoing at the time the determination is made and does not require the interruption of any such ongoing session.(D) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not apply when intelligence, law enforcement, or other government officials of the United States are granted access to an individual who remains in the custody of a third country.(E) Procedures providing that a certification of national security interests under subsection (a)(4) may be granted for the purpose of transferring a covered person from a third country if such a transfer is in the interest of the United States and could not otherwise be accomplished.(d) Effective Date- This section shall take effect on the date that is 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply with respect to persons described in subsection (a)(2) who are taken into the custody or brought under the control of the United States on or after that effective date.source:

    1. so my eyes have been opened more by interesting and enlightened conversation on another site. apparently the “does not apply to US citizens” part of 1032 only applies to 1032, and not 1031. 1031 is about the detention of someone deemed an enemy, and 1032 is about who gets to hold the enemy, the military or not. so technically, you can be detained as a US citizen indefinitely if you are suspected of being an enemy (1031), but the military will not hold you, so i suppose the federal government will instead (1032). also, part 4 of section 1032 allows a waiver of citizenship requirement of parts 1 and 2 in 1032 if the person in question is deemed a threat to national security.

      very confusing, i certainly misread it the first time and i am EXTREMELY skeptical of the government and would be the first to accuse it of overstepping its bounds. the way this was written was to confuse… but its true. they can detain you indefinitely, and if they can get a waiver, they can detain you via the military. 


  48. Obviously, this will allow them to come after anyone that they can label as dangerous mind and as long you stay in a place that has extradition treaties with the US you are a goner. Even by making public statement in a forum like this, they can pick you up and no-one can contest their allegations (even if the charges are bogus) since the bill give them that right. Scary times indeed. I rather die a free man that conform to this unrestrained exercise of power. This look-like an episode taken straight out of “The Clone War”.

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