Defense bill attacks human rights

February 6, 2012 — by Nelson Wang

As he continues to campaign for re-election in 2012, it seems as though President Obama has ended 2011 on a negative note. In December, he signed a controversial and immoral defense bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act, also called the NDAA.

As he continues to campaign for re-election in 2012, it seems as though President Obama has ended 2011 on a negative note. In December, he signed a controversial and immoral defense bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act, also called the NDAA.

The bill contains provisions that target suspected terrorists within the United States. It allows the military to hold a suspected terrorist for an indefinite period without trial.

The NDAA also gives the military more authority to detain and interrogate both U.S. citizens and non-citizens. In doing so, the bill tramples on basic human rights.

Indefinite arrests for suspects are unacceptable since these suspects may be guilty of nothing, yet they are subject to being treated like some of the worst criminal offenders and could potentially be imprisoned for their entire lives without reason.

The Constitution has several amendments that protect the rights of accused persons.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant to a “speedy and public trial by an impartial jury.” The amendment also states that an accused person must be allowed to be confronted by his accusers, be informed of his charges, be allowed to gather witnesses and evidences to assist him, have a legal counsel help him in the preparation of his defense and hold a trial in the state and jurisdiction in which his alleged crime has taken place. The NDAA clearly violates this important fundamental amendment, because one can be sentenced to prolonged imprisonment without a trial.

In addition, the Eighth Amendment states that the government cannot be subject a person to excessive fines or bail or cruel and unusual punishment, which can be defined as indefinite internment.

Obviously, Congress is blinded by fear if its members fail to see how atrocious this bill could potentially be and the risks involved with implementing it.

President Obama has said that he will not allow citizens to be imprisoned for an indefinite amount of time. Many people therefore believe the detainment time is not an issue; however, Obama fails to mention the imprisonment of non-American citizens.

As a result, there are practically no chances of shutting down the camp where detainees are held in Guantanamo Bay, something that Obama promised during his 2008 presidential campaign. Rather, the bill would support the detainment and interrogation of the suspects in the camps. The irony, according to the Center of Constitutional Rights, is that “the same presidential signature that ordered the closing of Guantánamo almost three years ago has now ensured their release or transfer is practically impossible.”

The bill is intended to provide the administration with flexibility in dealing with terrorist threats. In this case, “flexibility” means that non-American citizens can have their basic human rights violated without being able to even have a fair trial.

Our nation is built on the belief that all people should have equality and basic rights. The NDAA violates these rights and goes against all of the United States’ core beliefs and moral values.

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