Defense Authorization Bill False Alarm?

There have been frantic emails flying around about the 2012 Defense Authorization Act claiming that it authorizes the military to "detain American citizens" on U.S. soil for the first time in history. The emails claim that "even the ACLU is on our side on this one."

That in-and-of-itself should raise red flags, as the ACLU's and the left's positions almost always favor our enemies. A few leftist lawyers, like Lynne Stewart, have even been honest enough to admit it from time to time.

This legislation awaits serious analysis from a trustworthy legal authority, however a reading of the sections in question (1031, 32 and 33) suggest a different reason for the ACLU's protest:

  1. The bill specifically excludes American citizens and legal residents of the U.S (1032 (b)). This writer could not find any provision that authorizes detention of U.S. citizens.
  2. It specifically identifies al Qaeda, members of the Taliban, and those who have assisted them in the 9-11 attacks or other terrorist activities, as being subject to these provisions (1031(b); 1032(a)).
  3. It makes it more difficult for the Obama administration to transfer prisoners out of Guantanamo to civilian courts within the continental U.S.

This last point is the reason the Obama administration has threatened a veto. It is the reason "humanitarian" groups like Amnesty International oppose the legislation, and is very likely the real reason for ACLU's opposition. Lest we forget, many of Eric Holder's appointees were defending these terrorists before he brought them into the Justice Department.

This does not rule out the possibility of problems. There is always the option to change the law in the future, for example by muddling the definition of "terrorist." The Left has always been good at this kind of maneuver, and the ACLU has been right there with them.

In this case it looks like the ACLU has deliberately raised a straw man argument to alarm conservatives and obtain their unwitting support in opposing legislation that keeps captured terrorists where they belong: in Guantanamo awaiting military trial.

So before running off half-cocked, it would be wisest to hear from some reputable conservative legal scholars on the real implications of this legislation.

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