When Barack Obama inked the National Defense Authorization Act on New Year’s Eve, the president insisted that he wouldn’t use the terrifying legislation against American citizens. Another new law, however, could easily change all of that.
If the Enemy Expatriation Act passes in its current form, the legislation will let the government strike away citizenship for anyone engaged in hostilities, or supporting hostilities, against the United States. The law itself is rather brief, but in just a few words it warrants the US government to strip nationality status from anyone they identify as a threat.
What’s more, the government can decide to do so without bringing the suspected troublemaker before a court of law.
Under the legislation, “hostilities” are defined as “any conflict subject to the laws of war” and does not explicitly state that charges against suspects go to court.
When Obama signed NDAA on December 31, the president said that his administration “will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.” Added the president, “Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation.” But by breaking off ties between citizens — American-born or otherwise — the harsh realities of NDAA can be forced on anyone in the US if Washington decides that it is in the country’s best interest.
The National Defense Authorization Act drew widespread opposition despite a lack of media cover due to the capabilities in bestows in the administration. Under NDAA, the government can indefinitely imprison anyone deemed dangerous by Washington and hold them without trial. After criticism led to massive online campaigns and protests, President Obama addressed the issue and said specifically that his administration would not understand the law as such. Instead, said Obama, “My administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.”
Some are now saying that Obama’s attempt at discrediting the NDAA by insisting that he would not use it against American citizens came only as a precursor to the latest Act. By adding his signing statement to the NDAA, the president insured that legislation such as the Enemy Expatriation Act would surface to strike any limitations that would have kept Americans free from military detainment. “I hope I’m wrong, but it sounds to me like this is a loophole for indefinitely detaining Americans,” Stephen . Foster, Jr. writes on the AddictionInfo.org website. “Once again, you just have to be accused of supporting hostilities which could be defined any way the government sees fit. Then the government can strip your citizenship and apply the indefinite detention section of the NDAA without the benefit of a trial.”
The bill, currently being passed through Congress, is sponsored by Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Charles Dent (R-PA).
A US Army MP holds down the head of a detainee so he is not identified 14 Febuary 2002 as the detainee is taken inside one of four Joint Interrogation Facilities at Campa X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (AFP Photo / Peter Muhly)