Guantánamo - the Basis for Mandatory Military Detention Provisions in the NDAA

by Andy Worthington  

Yesterday, I was rung by a journalist from Press TV, asking me to discuss my recent article, US Judge Rules Against Military Detention of US Terror Suspects – But What About the Foreigners in Guantánamo?

My three and a half minute commentary is available here, and in it I reiterated that, while I fully understand the outrage in the United States about the provisions demanding the mandatory military of alleged terror suspects — including US citizens — that were included by dangerously deluded or cynical lawmakers in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), what has been largely missing from the conversation is a recognition that this assault on the rights of American not to be arbitrarily imprisoned by their own government would not have been possible without the existence of Guantánamo.

At Guantánamo, foreigners — but not Americans — have been arbitrarily detained for ten years, and opponents of the NDAA also need to recognize that the legislation that underpins al of these outrageous detention provisions (both at Guantánamo and in the NDAA) is the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which urgently needs repealing, as I explained in an article last year, After Ten Years of the “War on Terror,” It’s Time to Scrap the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

This is how Press TV described my commentary:

“The interesting thing about the National Defense Authorization Act’s (NDAA) mandatory military provisions for the custody of people who [are] allegedly terrorist suspects is that it caused a huge amount of uproar in the United States, which I obviously find very understandable. It was interesting that people on the left, libertarians, even some Republicans took exception to the right of, or the perceived right of lawmakers to demand that anyone, including US citizens, could be put in military custody for life without charge or trial on the basis of an allegation of involvement with terrorism,” Worthington said.

He continued that what many people missed out on their reflection on feeling that their own lawmakers were targeting them, was that the lawmakers wouldn’t have been able to come up with these notions of mandatory military detention for terror suspects, including American citizens, if it wasn’t for the fact that that’s what they have actually been doing at Guantánamo for the last ten years.

Worthington added that a lot of American citizens who are opposed to the provisions in the NDAA haven’t realized that “the problem is Guantánamo, and that without Guantánamo and the law that was passed straight after the 9/11 attacks to authorize the detention of prisoners, which is called the Authorization For Use of Military Force [AUMF] which is still in power and actually underpins the whole of the war on terror detention provisions, without the AUMF and Guantánamo, these awful provisions in the NDAA would not have been possible.”

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison.

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