Last year, the language in the yearly National Defense Authorization Act was kind of loose and left a lot of room for the possibility of US citizens being detained by the military and losing their rights to due process, as well as several other little things that the Constitution provides us with. The language was changed, and the version of the bill that was passed expressly noted that it did not affect US citizens; however, an overwhelming number of people believed that the bill still affected citizens, despite the separation of military and local law.
I covered all of this last year in “NDAA Allows Detention of US Citizens?“. A lot of the confusion comes from a general misunderstanding of US law, but the sad reality is that this confusion is not unwarranted -this doesn’t stop the FBI, ATF, or local law enforcement from arresting you for erroneous reasons or violating your civil rights. This year’s bill has taken a fairly bold step towards a more militarized police-state with a provision that would allow Congress to temporarily suspend that separation of local law and military law on a per-case basis. Here’s the amendment to the bill:
SEC. 1033. PROHIBITION ON THE INDEFINITE DETENTION OF CITIZENS AND LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENTS. Section 4001 of title 18, United States Code, is amended— (1) by redesignating subsection (b) as subsection (c); and (2) by inserting after subsection (a) the following: ‘‘(b)(1) An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention.
The amendment goes on to state:
‘‘(3) Paragraph (1) shall not be construed to authorize the detention of a citizen of the United States, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, or any other person who is apprehended in the United States.’’
This dodgy and elusive language just means that the bill isn’t authorizing this detention -it’s giving that authority to congress as a temporary ability, per the above changes to the bill. The changes to the bill were met with opposition in the House and Senate; but, unlike last year, Congress passed the bill with this new encroachment on your civil liberty, and it is up for Presidential approval. With all of the concern about the recent mass shootings and how we can prevent such things, we may see more of this through-out the year.