Understanding the NDAA, a US law that makes it possible to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial

Omems sends us, "ProPublica's point-by-point discussion of why this year's NDAA might not allow for the indefinite detention of US citizens. As clear and concise a summary as I've seen, and provides a bit of hope that our rights aren't completely irrelevant to our representatives."

I don't know that I'd got that far. ProPublica concludes that some of the senators who voted for NDAA clearly believe (and intend) that it will be used to lock up American citizens and lawful residents forever, without a trial or any meaningful due process. And all of them expect that the NDAA will allow for indefinite detention without charge or trial for foreigners who are captured abroad, or who happen to visit the USA (tourists beware). As one of those foreigners who often visits the USA on a work-visa, I'm not exactly comforted by this news.

What about people detained in the U.S. who aren’t citizens or permanent residents?

They could still be indefinitely detained.

Human rights and civil libertarian groups criticized the amendment for falling short of the protections in the constitution under the Fifth Amendment, which says that any “person” in the U.S. be afforded due process.

In the floor debate, Feinstein said she agreed with critics that allowing anybody in the U.S. to be detained indefinitely without charges “violates fundamental American rights.” Feinstein said she didn’t think she had the necessary votes to pass a due-process guarantee for all.

Cutting through the Controversy about Indefinite Detention and the NDAA (Thanks, Omem!)



  1. I kinda take issue with that headline. NDAA is a US law that would make it possible to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial, in alternate universes where such a thing would be constitutional. Right now it’s just a legalistic attempt to justify indefinite detention, that has not yet been called out as officially unconstitutional by reasonable judges.

    I mean, they are acting on it as if it were a law and as if it were constitutional, but I wouldn’t glorify broken rules as part of the rules just because people are getting away with it for now.

    1. To the person detained, during the years it can take to get the case seen to, that ‘people are getting away with it for now’ is extremely relevant.  Especially as the guilty parties will certainly not be punished.

  2. …detained indefinitely without charges “violates fundamental American rights.”

    No, it violates fundamental human rights.

  3. Agree with endrest. The rest of the world aren’t second-class humans because we weren’t born in America, no matter what your propaganda says.

  4. All members of Congress swear an oath to support the Constitution of the United States.  Any of them that voted for this, and other such measures deemed unconstitutional, need to be formally charged, by whatever the proper procedures are, with violating that oath.

    Simple accountability would straighten out a lot of political problems.

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