In a letter published in Foreign Affairs, the official journal of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) insists that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) does not expose American citizens to arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention.
According to Levin, one of the law’s chief architects (along with Senator John McCain of Arizona), the NDAA is nothing more noteworthy than a codification of existing law and certainly nothing akin to the onramp to authoritarianism it is portrayed as by alarmists.
Levin further claims that the target of the new law are “individuals captured in the country’s fight against al Qaeda.”
Is Levin right? Have leftists and libertarians, conservatives and civil liberties advocates misinterpreted the indefinite detention provisions of the law and contorted its benign enemy-punishing powers into some sort of habeas corpus killing monstrosity taking its first giant step toward tyranny?
Perhaps Senator Levin should refresh his memory of the deliberations in his own chamber regarding the detainee provisions. For example, on December 1, 2011, several senators spoke in favor of passage of the NDAA claiming that there was some critical intelligence that could only be gathered if suspected “terrorists” (and that includes American citizens so designated) were indefinitely detained and thus providing interrogators with an wide open window for obtaining “the truth” from these terrorists.
During this debate the famous transitive property of the War on Terror was formulated that equated the designation, "foreign battlefield," with the entire planet and with the United States of America — and made any "foreign foe" equivalent to an American citizen thought to be giving such foes aid.
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Photo: Senator Carl Levin announcing his opposition to the invasion of Iraq and his opposition to giving President George W. Bush such authorization.