Benjamin Wittes, who has been on top of the NDAA news for a while now, broke down the reality of the law and, specifically, what it does and doesn’t do.
He also dispels some myths in plain English (Benjamin is a legal expert, a Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution and Contributing Editor, The Atlantic Monthly).
–Does the NDAA expand the government’s detention authority?
–Does the NDAA authorize the indefinite detention of citizens?
No, though it does not foreclose the possibility either.
–Does it mandate military detention of terrorist suspects?
Not really, though both supporters and critics seem quite sure that it does.
–Does it prevent the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay?
Yes. The NDAA does three things that make it impossible, at least during fiscal year 2012, for President Obama to fulfill his promise to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
–Does it prevent civilian criminal trials of terrorism suspects?
Yes and no.
–Does it repeal the Bill of Rights?
No federal statute can repeal the Bill of Rights. To the extent any provision of the NDAA is found to conflict with any provision of the Bill of Rights, it will not survive constitutional scrutiny.
It really is required reading. What you’ll gather from it is exactly what Chez and I were talking about on the podcast: the bill isn’t good, but it’s not the nightmare some on the left are making it out to be.