Suppose you were a humanitarian relief worker. You spend your time at home and abroad bringing food aid to those whose lives have been devastated by disaster. You feel like you’re devoting your life to a good cause and truly helping your fellow man.
Then the U.S. government sends you to jail, without a charge or trial, forever.
When the War on Terror is over, you’re told, you might have a sporting chance of getting out. Because the War on Terror is totally going to end any day now, right? Dream big, detainees!
If that doesn’t strike you as a good scenario, your instincts are correct. It is, however, a conceivable situation if the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, or S.1867) is signed into law. Under the bill’s Section 1031*, the federal government will claim the authority to indefinitely detain anyone, anywhere, if it deems them a threat in the fight against terror. Indeed, the NDAA “designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland,” as Senator Lindsey Graham, as strong supporter of the measure, has put it. And the qualifications for being a terrorist threat are vague—so vague, in fact, that a “relief worker could end up in indefinite military detention without charge or trial for giving food or medical assistance to someone who turns out to have been a Taliban member or supporter.”
To say this is a scary bill is to utter a massive understatement, and it’s no wonder that civil libertarians of all political persuasions have been up in arms as the NDAA passed the Senate with a whopping 93 percent approval rating from our “representatives.”Published in