If you’re upset that congressional approval of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 can send you away to military prisons and be tortured in America, don’t worry — it could be worse.
The US could send you somewhere else.
No, really. They could. And they can. Anywhere else, too. Really.
While the bill that left Capitol Hill last week and awaits authorization from US President Barack Obama allows for the United States to indefinitely detain and torture American citizens suspected of aiding enemy forces, one provision in the bill specifies that that detention doesn’t necessarily have to occur domestically — nor does it have to be in a foreign prison run by the US.
The ongoing detention of foreign terror suspects at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has been a hot topic since the War on Terror began, with American military authorities torturing could-be criminals without ever bringing them to trial. An exposé years earlier on the Abu Ghraib facility in Iraq revealed how American troops were subjecting detainees to disgusting, inhumane conditions; conditions which left some dead without ever going to trial. While Abu Ghraib has since been shut down, Guantanamo Bay continues to hold suspected criminals despite a promise to Obama to shut it down.
When the commander-in-chief inks his name to NDAA FY2012, Americans can be on their way to the same torture cells that have kept al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked terrorists for the last decade. It’s now been revealed, however, that US citizens and anyone suspected of a crime against America can be sent all over the world.
Under the legislation, the president has the power to transfer suspected terrorists “to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.”
China? Sure. Iran? Why not! North Korea? That’s a possibility too. David Glazier, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, tells Mother Jones that this was an authority that the president has had before, but only under the new NDAA is the legislation endorsed and insured that it could be applied to Americans.
“If the president could lawfully transfer a German prisoner of war to a foreign country, then in theory he could do the same thing with an American prisoner of war,” Glazier says.
Under the Feinstein Amendment imposed under NDAA FY2012, the Democratic senator from California proposed a law which would not change “existing law” with regards to detaining Americans. As Mother Jones notes, however, the jury is still out on what exactly “existing law” is when it comes to the topic, with those suspected of hostilities against America already being imprisoned without trial — citizen and otherwise. Both US-born Bradley Manning has been under military watch, isolation and torture for nearly two years, and the same has applied to a countless number of suspected terrorists at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib.
Al Franken, a Democrat senator from Minnesota, wrote in an op-ed last week that the provisions put in NDAA such as Feinstein Amendment were enough for some lawmakers to sign onto the legislation, but he said the final draft was still “simply unacceptable.”
“These provisions are inconsistent with the liberties and freedoms that are at the core of the system our Founders established. And while I did in fact vote for an earlier version of the legislation, I did so with the hope that the final version would be significantly improved. That didn’t happen, and so I could not support the final bill,” wrote Franken.