The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District struck down an injunction against indefinite detention of U.S. citizens by the president under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 in a July 17 ruling that is a blow to civil liberties protected by the U.S. Constitution. The appellate court ruled:
Plaintiffs lack standing to seek preenforcement review of Section 1021 and vacate the permanent injunction. The American citizen plaintiffs lack standing because Section 1021 says nothing at all about the President’s authority to detain American citizens.
The Section 1021 of the NDAA allows “detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities” for “a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.” The court is technically correct in stating that the law does not specifically mention U.S. citizens when it uses the term “person,” but like the vaguely worded “supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces,” it appears to be all-encompassing and subject solely to the president's discretionary whims.
The threat that the U.S. government would detain indefinitely — or even kill — an American citizen without formal charges or judicial proceeding is hardly theoretical. The appellate court that struck down the injunction acknowledged that fact:
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Shown is the Guantanamo Bay detention center.