Saturday, December 21, 2013

The NDAA, The U.S. War Against the American Citizens

It is difficult to find anyone in Washington who likes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Every year there is an outcry against the unconstitutional power to detain American citizens indefinitely. Yet, the NDAA keeps passing year after year. This year being no different as the Senate has quietly passed the 2014 NDAA.  

But there have been significant changes. Under the 2014 NDAA, the United States continues it slide into an Orwellian surveillance state.  Section 1071 titled "enhancement of capacity of the United States Government to analyze captured records", expands the upon the surveillance authority granted under the Patriot Act. Section 1071a authorizes the creation of a 'Conflict Records Research Center' within the Defense Department. According to the text of the latest version of the bill, the center's task would be to compile a “digital research database including translations and to facilitate research and analysis of records captured from countries, organizations, and individuals, now or once hostile to the United States.” 

Countries organizations and individuals would of course include all of the data that the NSA collects in its broad spectrum surveillance of every American citizen that communicates electronically. This gives the Defense Department the right to establish a huge database of your emails, phone records, Facebook rants and browsing history. All of these items become the captured documents of a hostile enemy under the NDAA as well as the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) under which the 'War on Terror' has been fought since 2001.

Defense Authorization Bill Passes but Leaves Major Questions Unresolved

Last night the Senate passed the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 84 to 15. The bill passed the House by a vote of 350 to 69 last week. The NDAA sets spending priorities for the U.S. military and specifies various rules and reporting requirements. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it.

Due to the limited time available, the Senate voted on a version of the bill that had been agreed between the House and Senate, and did not have the opportunity to offer additional amendments.

NDAA supporters expressed relief at the outcome of the last minute vote. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that the bill “supports the well-being of our men and women in uniform and their families and strengthens congressional oversight of the president” and the Department of Defense. He maintained, however, that the bill “should have been considered earlier and under regular order in the Senate.”

The sprawling bill deals with the entire range of issues that affect the Department of Defense, from the way the military handles sexual assault to the ability of the president to scale back the U.S. nuclear arsenal. It contains language that affects prominent acquisition programs, including attempts to limit the cost of the Ford-class aircraft carrier and to ensure tighter oversight of the Littoral Combat Ship program.

Passage of the NDAA comes in the context of a two-year budget deal that passed the Senate earlier this week. The deal, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., would restore a portion of the spending that had been subject to automatic sequestration cuts over the next two years. 

You can download and read the text of the NDAA - all 1,105 pages here.

The ACLU and The New American both have interesting perspectives on the act.