The last gasps of the Bill of Rights, plus Ozone Widget and the Lord’s Army (Nation Defense Authorization Act)

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald walks us through the language of the bill in crystal-clear terms, making it clear how terrible its provisions truly are:

National Defense Authorization Act, Section 1031:

a) military may intervene to apprehend and arrest on US soil (instead of civil police agencies); b) detained have no right to a trial; c) detention may be indefinite; d) may be applied to US citizens  (under the rubric of “fighting terror”)

The main purpose of this gargantuan bill is to determine the next year of budget expenditures for  Department of Defense. Here is the text of the bill. But since this is a high-pressure bill for congressmembers to pass (who wants to give their election opponents a shot to scream: but he doesn’t support our troops!), since it therefore has a very high likelihood of passing, and since it is already so massive that many members will not perform a careful reading, it is a perfect time to tack on any number of “other” things.

See for yourself. The bill is like a grab-bag of random things; a wish-list of one-thousand pages all to be voted on at once.

The Table of Contents alone is enormous at 23 pages, and the broad scope of the bill is immediately apparent.

We are talking about a single act of voting and law-making that encompasses issues as diverse as the establishing of a new “Cold War Medal”, to the funding of logistical support for the Ugandan military, to, yes you guessed it, the Ozone Widget on the Internet. Oh, and I nearly forgot, there is also that part where it says that the military can detain you without trial for the duration of the entire war on terror “hostilities” based on its mere unevidenced assertion that you are connected to the thing called terrorism.

The Bill has by now been voted and is awaiting the President’s signature or veto. It got bipartisan support and easily passed the Senate (93 votes of 100).

Below is a bit of reporting on the bill for depth and basic understanding; and below that are some excerpts from the bill itself.

Huffington Post:

“I’m very, very, concerned about having U.S. citizens sent to Guantanamo Bay for indefinite detention,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of the Senate’s most conservative members.

Paul’s top complaint is that a terrorism suspect would get just one hearing where the military could assert that the person is a suspected terrorist — and then they could be locked up for life, without ever formally being charged. The only safety valve is a waiver from the secretary of defense.

“It’s not enough just to be alleged to be a terrorist,” Paul said, echoing the views of the American Civil Liberties Union. “That’s part of what due process is — deciding, are you a terrorist? I think it’s important that we not allow U.S. citizens to be taken.”

Democrats who were also concerned about liberties compared the military policing of Americans to the detention of Americans in internment camps during World War II.

“Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) […]

“The enemy is all over the world. Here at home. And when people take up arms against the United States and [are] captured within the United States, why should we not be able to use our military and intelligence community to question that person as to what they know about enemy activity?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.

“They should not be read their Miranda Rights. They should not be given a lawyer,” Graham said. “They should be held humanely in military custody and interrogated about why they joined al Qaeda and what they were going to do to all of us.”

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If Obama does one thing for the remainder of his presidency let it be a veto of the National Defense Authorization Act – a law recently passed by the Senate which would place domestic terror investigations and interrogations into the hands of the military and which would open the door for trial-free, indefinite detention of anyone, including American citizens, so long as the government calls them terrorists.


[Arrestees] can be held in military custody “without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.” Those hostilities are currently scheduled to end the Wednesday after never. The move would shut down criminal trials for terror suspects. […]

So despite the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a right to trial, the Senate bill would let the government lock up any citizen it swears is a terrorist, without the burden of proving its case to an independent judge, and for the lifespan of an amorphous war that conceivably will never end. And because the Senate is using the bill that authorizes funding for the military as its vehicle for this dramatic constitutional claim, it’s pretty likely to pass.

Glenn Greenwald:

[T]his meaningless, definition-free word — Terrorism — drives so many of our political debates and policies. Virtually every debate in which I ever participate quickly and prominently includes defenders of government policy invoking the word as some sort of debate-ending, magical elixir: of course President Obama has to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process: they’re Terrorists; of course we have to stay in Afghanistan: we have to stop The Terrorists; President Obama is not only right to kill people (including civilians) using drones, but is justified in boasting and even joking about it, because they’re Terrorists; of course some people should be held in prison without charges: they’re Terrorists, etc. etc. It’s a word that simultaneously means nothing and justifies everything.


In case you haven’t noticed, hysteria is what the terrorists want. In fact, it’s the only win a decapitated, weakened al-Qaida can get these days. The only hope that these eschatological conspiracy theorists possess for success lies in compelling the U.S. to spend its way into oblivion and pursue ill-conceived wars. That’s how Osama bin Laden transforms from a cave-dwelling psycho into a world-historical figure — not because of what he was, but because of how we reacted to him. […]

Former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke has an answer. “There’s going to be a terrorist strike some day,” Clarke told Frontline for its “Top Secret America” documentary this week. “And when there is, if you’ve reduced the terrorism budget, the other party, whoever the other party is at the time, is going to say that you were responsible for the terrorist strike because you cut back the budget.  And so it’s a very, very risky thing to do.”

The risk, in other words, is a political risk. The culture of fear: It’s a bipartisan race to the bottom. And it’s why the National Security State constructed by the George W. Bush administration has found a diligent steward in President Obama. Asked recently if the post-9/11 security apparatus might diminish soon now that al-Qaida looks weak, Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, replied, “No.”

To give an idea of the arbitrary, hodge-podge nature of this 925-page catch-all bill, here are some excerpts:


(a) Medal Authorized- The Secretary of Defense may authorize the issuance by the Secretaries concerned of a service medal, to be known as the ‘Cold War Service Medal’, to persons eligible to receive the medal under the regulations under subsection (b).

(b) Regulations-

(1) IN GENERAL- The issuance of a Cold War Service Medal under this section shall be subject to regulations prescribed by Secretary of Defense.

(2) ELEMENTS- The regulations shall–

(A) provide for an appropriate design for the Cold War Service Medal; and

(B) specify the persons eligible to receive the medal.


    (a) In General- Chapter 135 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

`Sec. 2275. Commercial space launch cooperation

    `(a) Authority- The Secretary of Defense may, to assist the Secretary of Transportation in carrying out responsibilities set forth in titles 49 and 51 with respect to private sector involvement in commercial space activities and public-private partnerships pertaining to space transportation infrastructure, take such actions as the Secretary considers to be in the best interests of the Federal Government to do the following:
          `(1) Maximize the use of the capacity of the space transportation infrastructure of the Department of Defense by the private sector in the United States.


            (a) Mechanism for Internet Publication of Information for Development of Analysis Tools and Applications- The Director of the Defense Information Systems Agency shall implement a mechanism to publish and maintain on the public Internet the Application Programming Interface specifications, a developer’s toolkit, source code, and such other information on, and resources for, the Ozone Widget Framework (OWF) as the Director considers necessary to permit individuals and companies to develop, integrate, and test analysis tools and applications for use by the Department of Defense and the elements of the intelligence community.


    (a) Enhancement of Authority- Subsection (a) of section 1535 of the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (Public Law 111-383; 124 Stat. 4426) is amended–
          (1) in paragraph (3), by striking `may include projects’ and all that follows and inserting `may include projects that facilitate private investment, mining sector development, industrial development, and other projects determined by the Secretary of Defense, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, as strengthening stability or providing strategic support to the counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan.’;


            (a) Authority- Pursuant to the policy established by the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-172; 124 Stat. 1209), the Secretary of Defense may, with the concurrence of Secretary of State, provide logistic support, supplies, and services and intelligence support for forces participating in operations to mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army as follows:
              (1) The national military forces of Uganda.
              (2) The national military forces of any other country determined by the Secretary of Defense, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, to be participating in such operations.


    Funds are hereby authorized to be appropriated for fiscal years beginning after September 30, 2011, for military construction, land acquisition, and military family housing functions of the Department of Defense (other than the military departments) in the total amount of $3,212,498,000, as follows:
      (1) For military construction projects inside the United States authorized by section 2401(a), $1,476,499,000.
      (2) For military construction projects outside the United States authorized by section 2401(b), $357,004,000.
      (3) For unspecified minor military construction projects under section 2805 of title 10, United States Code, $32,964,000.
      (4) For contingency construction projects of the Secretary of Defense under section 2804 of title 10, United States Code, $10,000,000.
      (5) For architectural and engineering services and construction design under section 2807 of title 10, United States Code, $399,602,000.
          (6) For energy conservation projects under chapter 173 of title 10, United States Code, $135,000,000.


          Funds are hereby authorized to be appropriated for fiscal years beginning after September 30, 2011, for contributions by the Secretary of Defense under section 2806 of title 10, United States Code, for the share of the United States of the cost of projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Security Investment Program authorized by section 2501, in the amount of $240,611,000.


    Not more than $500,000 of the funds authorized to be appropriated by section 3101 and made available by the funding table in section 4601 for defense nuclear nonproliferation activities may be obligated or expended to establish a center of excellence in a country that is not a state of the former Soviet Union until the date that is 15 days after the date on which the Administrator for Nuclear Security submits to the congressional defense committees a report that includes the following:
      (1) An identification of the country in which the center will be located.
      (2) A description of the purpose for which the center will be established.
          (3) The agreement under which the center will operate.


            (a) SBIR- Section 9(m) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 638(m)) is amended by striking `2011′ and inserting `2019, except as provided in subsection (cc)’.
            (b) STTR- Section 9(n)(1)(A) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 638(n)(1)(A)) is amended by striking `2011′ and inserting `2019′.
            (c) Technical and Conforming Amendment- The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (Public Law 112-36), as amended by division D of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (Public Law 112-55), is amended by striking section 123.
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