MAY 7, 2014, 11:10 AM
Dawud Walid: High court fails in not hearing NDAA challenge
The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent refusal to hear a challenge to part of a law, which allows for the federal government to indefinitely detain American citizens with alleged ties to particular foreign extremist organizations poses one of the greatest threats to our civil liberties since the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
The Court decided not to hear arguments pertaining to Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which in effect allows for the federal government to indefinitely detain persons including citizens without due process, who purportedly support certain terrorists while withholding due process protections.
The problematic portion of NDAA is as follows:
[Any] person who was part of or substantially supports 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.
There’s simply no transparency in the process of how the Executive Branch can designate people to fit into this provision. Plaintiffs against NDAA, which included journalist Chris Hedges and whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, argued that anyone who is viewed as a troublemaker can potentially be held by the military, per order of the president. An investigative journalist, who has conversations with an alleged terrorist as a source for a story, and a person who leaks government documents to the public that get into the hands of an extremist group, are treated the same in the eyes of the law.
Congress needs to retake up the bipartisan Smith-Amash Amendment, which was introduced after the initial passage of the controversial NDAA to restore our civil liberties. It should never be left to the sole discretion of the Executive Branch to indefinitely detain citizens who are far removed from an active battlefield. We are a nation of the rule of law, which is supposed to operate on legal principles, not the discretion of the president exerting kinglike authority.
Without an act of Congress, we may live to see the day where American citizens are held without trial under NDAA, not unlike the way rogue states such as Egypt and North Korea dominate their citizenry.