Home > Uncategorized > A Real Constitutional Law Professor’s Take On The NDAA | Western Journalism.com

A Real Constitutional Law Professor’s Take On The NDAA | Western Journalism.com

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), recently adopted by Congress

and signed into law by Barack Obama, contains language that has raised substantial

Constitutional questions by civil libertarians on both the political right and on the political left.

The bulk of the lengthy legislation deals with the routine authorization for military spending by

the Pentagon, including items such as military pay, veterans’ benefits, weapons procurement,

etc. Such legislation must be passed on a regular basis if the United States military is to

continue to operate.

However, in the U. S. Senate version of the legislation, S.1867, there are sections

dealing with the detaining of people suspected of being involved with terrorist organizations or

any groups engaging in, or planning, hostile actions against the United States. These suspects

can be arrested by American military forces and detained indefinitely, without formal charges

being filed, and without trial, until the “hostilities” end. The term hostilities refers to the

general war on terror, not to specific military actions, such as those in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Therefore, there is no end in sight to the possible period of detention. This is the version that

was ultimately passed by the full Congress.

The question is, does the law allow members of the United States armed forces to

detain American citizens, including those arrested in the United States, without granting them

due process? The language in the bill is unclear, at best. In section 1031, the first paragraph



via A Real Constitutional Law Professor’s Take On The NDAA | Western Journalism.com.


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