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Obama Signs Indefinite Detention Into Law

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On December 31, when most U.S. citizens were distracted with New Year's holiday plans, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. This law authorizes the President of the United States to order the U.S. military to arrest and imprison terrorism suspects indefinitely, including U.S. citizens, without charging them or putting them on trial. In other words, the President could now arbitrarily strip you of your right to due process.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the bill also contains provisions "making it difficult to transfer suspects out of military detention, which prompted FBI Director Robert Mueller to testify that it could jeopardize criminal investigations."

Obama issued a signing statement expressing "serious reservations" regarding some of the provisions of the bill. But he signed it anyway. He did not veto it, as he could have done.

Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director, summarized the danger that this new law presents: "The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield."

"We are incredibly disappointed that President Obama signed this new law even though his administration had already claimed overly broad detention authority in court," said Romero. "Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back the constitutional excesses of George [W.] Bush in the war on terror was extinguished [with the signing of this bill]. Thankfully, we have three branches of government, and the final word belongs to the Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on the scope of detention authority. But Congress and the president also have a role to play in cleaning up the mess they have created because no American citizen or anyone else should live in fear of this or any future president misusing the NDAA's detention authority."

Romero promised that the ACLU "will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally." I hope they are successful.

In the meantime, however, the new law can only do further damage to our reputation in the world - a reputation that Obama initially seemed to be repairing quite successfully.

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And the world will now see that even Obama - a former Constitutional law professor - cannot be trusted to uphold universal human rights standards and the rule of law.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)

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I think Obama's signing this is an amazing clarion... by Elizabeth Hanson on Monday, Jan 2, 2012 at 4:26:02 PM
- a former Constitutional law professor - Anybody ... by Michael Rose on Monday, Jan 2, 2012 at 4:46:21 PM
Obama has been the biggest "sell out" to those who... by Deborah Dills on Monday, Jan 2, 2012 at 5:43:22 PM
they are all sellouts on both sides of the aisle. ... by Michael Shaw on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 at 1:45:04 AM
This is nothing short of Obama's owners, the inter... by Steven G. Erickson on Monday, Jan 2, 2012 at 8:06:29 PM
who are the potential traitors, just waiting for a... by Michael Shaw on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 at 1:02:12 PM
I'm a big fan of John Trudell. He advocates Cohere... by Richard Scott on Monday, Jan 2, 2012 at 8:23:16 PM
but he went ahead and did it anyway, didn't he! In... by Michael Shaw on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 at 1:37:39 AM
>>Obama issued a signing statement express... by Brennan Browne on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 at 9:46:10 AM
than it does Mao's China. But the message is essen... by Michael Shaw on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 at 12:45:32 PM
A reviewing of Leni Reifenstahl's film is instruct... by Richard Scott on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 at 8:32:22 PM
the Supreme Court. You have to read between the li... by Michael Shaw on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 at 12:55:17 PM
To clarify -- Feinstein is a bonified fascist. I w... by Brennan Browne on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 at 3:13:33 PM
I am well aware of Feinstein's ongoing assault of ... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Jan 4, 2012 at 10:32:58 AM
She has introduced a new bill The Due Process Guar... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Jan 4, 2012 at 10:51:44 AM
He sold us 'change', now he wants us to believe th... by Dennis Kaiser on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 at 10:16:07 AM
primary. There is potential that the write ins mig... by Michael Shaw on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 at 1:08:46 PM
EVERY time, I read over and over again, "This is a... by Ian MacLeod on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 at 10:30:11 PM
Can't be done by the ordinary citizen except at th... by John Shriver on Wednesday, Jan 4, 2012 at 1:22:24 PM