Thursday, January 5, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, bombs slam Iraq, the League of Righteous is "honestly sorry" for killing a British citizen several years ago (and for lying this summer that he was still alive?), the political crisis continues, Nouri saw 'terrorists' trying to overthrow the government but now they're being released, and more.
Nellie Bailey: But first, the US and its allies were on a military offensive in 2011 except in Iraq where the Americans were forced to withdraw almost all of their uniformed forces. But that doesn't mean the Americans are gone. We spoke with Tony Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Tony Monteiro: Don't forget the bulk of the troops might be out of Iraq but they're not out of the region. When you look at the Obama administration's policy, it is a continuation of the neo-conservative policy of the Bush administration and those policies were defined by the objective of regime change and bringing democracy -- so-called -- to the Middle East. And Iraq was supposed to be the first domino and the most important domino to fall in this respect. Now the other side of that is while they're allegedly moving out of Iraq, of course the troops are in Kuwait and other parts of the Persian Gulf. But the US is ramping up its war talk against Iran. Iran is a neighbor of Iraq. In fact, Iran sits between Iraq and Afghanistan. So, it is my opinion that this thing is not over. That the US, and this is of course Vice President Biden's point of view, the United States should reserve the option of going back into Iraq. And certainly with the Maliki government under increasing stress and opposition, that government is not beond -- in the not too distant future -- calling for the American troops to come back. And I guess the third thing I would say is that a lot of this has to do with the 2012 election. After the election, all best are off, we have a new set of options. And we can not forget that the largest US Embassy in the world is in Baghdad, Iraq -- over 17,000 so-called diplomats but mainly CIA, military intelligence. So Iraq is not over by a long shot.
Glen Ford: The US had a long list of nations marked for regime change. There has been regime change in Libya and it appears that the United States and the Europeans are intent on making regime change in Syria.
Tony Monteiro: And you know, even if they do not bring about complete regime change, they want to make these states -- such as Libya, such as Syria, such as Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq -- failed states, states that in order to even exist or to function must rely on the United States and NATO. So you have this attempt on the part of the United States and NATO to manage a political, social and economic chaos in the Middle East.
Political, social and economic chaos pretty much describes the Iraq rocked today by bombings. An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers shares (at Inside Iraq), "As an Iraqi citizen, I wouldn't really care about our politicians and their fight because I never felt for a moment that any of them represents me or any regular people but the only thing that pushes me to care is the fuel of this fight. Since the political fight ignited between the Iraqi politicians, poor Iraqis were always the fuel that inflames it. Hundreds of thousands were killed or missed since 2003 and God knows when the bath of blood would stop in my bleeding country. Prayers of mothers, fathers and sons couldn't stop the blood shedding because their political brothers always pray for more blood for political gains since fuel is always available and cheap as they believe."
Baghdad was again slammed with explosions. Early on Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) explained, "A series of bombings in Baghdad left 24 dead and dozens wounded Thursday, intensifying fears of an increase in sectarian violence in the midst of a political crisis." BBC News (link has text and video) adds, "The ministry told the BBC that at least 66 people were wounded in the blasts, which occurred in the capital's Sadr City and Kadhimiya neighbourhoods." Lee Moran (Daily Mail) notes things kicked off with a motorcycle bombing, then a roadside bombing followed by two more bombings.
In addition to the Baghdad bombings, southern Iraq was also targeted. Early on,
AP counted 30 dead in a southern Iraq bombing. AFP stated it was a Nasiriyah roadside boombing. In addition to the 30 dead, Adrian Blomfield (Telegraph of London) reported the Nasiriyah bombing has left seventy-two injured. Reuters noted government officials said it wasn't a roadside bombing, it was a suicide bombing. Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) would report later in the day that the bomber wore a suicide vest and note that the pilgrims killed were making a pilgrimage to Karbala "to commemorate the Arbaeen religious ritual, the climax of which will be on Jan. 13. Arbaeen is the end of 40 days of mourning for the Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammed's grandson who was killed at the battle of Karbala in 680 A.D." Reuters notes 29 dead from Baghdad bombings (68 injured) and 44 dead in the Nassiriya bombing (81 injured) for a total of 73 dead (74 if the suicide bomber is counted). In addition, Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 child (five women were injured) and 1 man was shot dead in Mosul (with another man, his brother, left injured).
After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Shiites of Iraq and the Kurds saw a historic opportunity to have equal representation. This is fair enough. But it is a grave mistake to depict the Saddam era as "Sunni" and to seek the building o a new Shiite identity based on animosity towards the Sunnis. Luckily, this is not the position of the vast majority of Shiites of Iraq. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for instance, has resisted such temptations and played a key role in lowering tensions between Shiite and Sunni Iraqis.
Reporting from Baghdad, Dahr Jamail (Al Jazeera -- link is video) declared, "These latest attacks highlight just how serious the political deadlock in Iraq has become and only days after the last US forces left the country. Once again, it's the Iraqis who have been killed and injured. The victims of a dispute that only Iraq's politicians, whether Sunni or Shia, can resolve." It wasn't supposed to be this way. It was only December 12th that Nouri al-Maliki and US President Barack Obama were at the White House and Barack was singing the praises of the US-backed thug.
US President Barack Obama: Today, I'm proud to welcome Prime Minister Maliki -- the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq. We're here to mark the end of this war; to honor the sacrifices of all those who made this day possible; and to turn the page -- begin a new chapter in the history between our countries -- a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect. Iraq faces great challenges, but today reflects the impressive progress that Iraqis have made. Millions have cast their ballots -- some risking or giving their lives -- to vote in free elections. The Prime Minister leads Iraq's most inclusive government yet. Iraqis are working to build institutions that are efficient and independent and transparent.
Except for "today," pretty much everything Barack said was a lie. Now yesterday Barack found a way to appoint yet another man to a position. When the left wanted Elizabeth Warren in that position, Barack didn't know how to appoint her. But then he really doesn't appoint many women to positions of power. Which is how he could lie that, "The Prime Minister leads Iraq's most inclusive government yet." Barack's overweight flunky Jay Carney mentioned Warren in the White House press briefing today, "Richard Cordray is, as she herself has said, the right man for the job -- the right person for the job -- and enormously qualified." No, Warren never called him "the right man for the job." But how telling of this White House, so known for its sexism (see Ron Suskind's Confidence Men), that their spokesperson would have to correct himself in front of the press corps and how telling on the press corps that most will never report his telling (Freudian?) slip.
So it's no surprise that Barack would be praising the "diversity" when even women in President Jalal Talabani's family are publicly calling out Nouri's Cabinet (which, when originally named, didn't have one woman in it).
A "democratic" Iraq? If "democratic" means following the rule of law or the Constitution, forget it. (See yesterday's snapshot on Nouri's latest efforts to break the Constitution.) If "democratic" means a country that values free speech, forget it. Nouri's attacked activists, had then kidnapped and tortured throughout 2011 and the same for journalists. How sad that Barack cheapened the White House by inviting that thug into it.
"Millions have cast their ballots," declared Barack, "some risking or giving their lives -- to vote in free elections."
Yes, they did. And in those March 2010 elections they clearly made Iraqiya their first choice. Ayad Allawi's slate came in first. Not a "Sunni" slate or a "Shia" slate, a mixed slate that was not about sectarianism. Some, like Allawi, were Shia. Some, like Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, were Sunni. And in choosing Iraqiya, Iraqis were saying they wanted a national identity, they were done with sectarianism. Which is why Nouri al-Maliki's political slate came in second. But the White House wouldn't abide by the will of the Iraqi people or by the Iraqi constitution. Instead the White House demanded that Nouri stay on as prime minister. So maybe Barack Obama should quit lying about "free elections"?
Now, he wants you to know, Iraq's working on being efificent, independent and transparent. It shouldn't be too hard for them to improve on that last one. In December Transparency International their latest rankings of 182 nation-states. Number one would be most transparent, number 182 would be least. Where did Iraq come in? Number 175. There aren't a lot of spots it can drop down too. This was at the start of December (December 3rd) and yet there was Barack on December 12th, lying yet again.
Upon returning to Iraq from DC, Nouri promptly ordered the homes of political rivals to be circled with tanks. Then he had Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and their bodyguards pulled off an airplane to the KRG on December 18th. All but three bodyguards were released and the plane was allowed to take off. December 19th, with al-Hashemi in the KRG for meetings, Nouri had a warrant sworn out on him for terrorism. December 21st, Nouri held a press conference. Journalist Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor and Al Jazeera) Tweeted it.
The the Fifth Clause of Article 19 from the Iraqi Constitution:
The accused is innocent until proven guilty in a fair legal trial. The accused may not be tried on the same crime for a second time after acquittal unless new evidence is produced.
It's a point Nouri fails to grasp. Repeatedly. Nouri is also calling for al-Mutlaq to be stripped of his position. al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq are both Sunnis as well as members of Iraqiya. Iraqiya is the political slate, led by Ayad Allawi, which came in first in the 2010 parliamentary elections. (Nouri's own State of Law came in second. They are political rivals.) Al Rafidayn notes the Kurdistan Alliance has declared that they will not support firing al-Mutlaq. (To strip al-Mutlaq of his position would require Parliament to agree with Nouri's proposal.) al-Hashemi is currently a house guest of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. This has so enraged State of Law that they've taken to calling Talabani a "terrorist" (which led to the Kurdish Alliance walking out on a session of Parliament Tuesday). Al Mada reports that State of Law is admitting that, despite rumors (mainly started and circulated by State of Law), Nouri has no terrorism files on either al-Mutlaq or Ayad Allawi.
Jalal Talabani has been calling for a national conference to address the political crisis. State of Law is stating it should happen mid-month. For months, Iraqiya, the Kurds and the National Alliance have called on Nouri to reinstate the US-brokered Erbil Agreement that ended Political Stalemate I. The parties came together in Erbil and agreed to a variety of concessions. It was agreed Nouri would continue as prime minister (despite his slate's second place showing). That's the only element Nouri honored. As soon as he was named prime minister-designate, he trashed the agreement. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) notes:
Iraqiya, a cross-sectarian as well as Sunni-backed bloc, castigated the al-Maliki government, saying it had shunned cooperation despite the power-sharing arrangement.
It said it is considering sending a request to parliamentary leaders to withdraw support for al-Maliki and come up with a new prime minister to form a post-occupation government.
There have also been mounting calls for federalism from at least three predominantly Sunni provinces. Al-Maliki has called federalism a recipe for the partitioning of Iraq.
The bloc loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a key ally to al-Maliki, has called for the dissolution of parliament and early elections.
At the US State Dept today, spokesperson Victoria Nuland declared, "With regard to your larger question about our involvement in trying to support the Iraqis in settling their disputes peacefully through political means, as we've said for a number of days now, Ambassador Jeffrey's been very active, Vice President Biden's been active, in encouraging Iraqi politicians to talk to each other, to meet. And as I've said, we are quite encouraged that a number of Iraqi politicians are also calling for such a meeting which we hope takes place soon." Leaving aside the intelligence in the statement or not in the statement, if the remark seems unremarkable, it's because Nuland and Mark C. Toner have been offering variations on it for weeks now. And the State Dept thinking is that reporters will grow bored and stop asking. That would work at the White House. It may not at the State Dept because the State Dept press corps is a bit more mature and doesn't require training wheels on their Blackberries.
More on the topic of terrorists only let's jump to real ones and then we'll come back to the ones Nouri just 'knows' exist. This is a story of dead Americans and dead Brits. We need to provide backstory because, sadly, US press outlets don't know how many Americans were killed by the terrorist group. So we'll flashback and, in the midst of the flashback, we'll flashback again. This "****" will designate the start of the excerpt and this "****" will also designate the end of it. (The snapshot is reposted and it can be confusing on other community sites where they sometimes put the whole thing in bold.) So dropping back to July 9, 2011:
Earlier we were mentioning the little scamp Ali al-Lami who was killed a few weeks back. A terrorist, in fact. The US military held him for awhile. They held others with the Shi'ite thug group the League of Righteous. They're responsible for the deaths of 5 American service members. Maybe more. But 5 they are known to have killed.
And Barack let their leader and some of his followers go in a deal in the summer of 2009 -- a deal that the families of the 5 fallen soldiers were not consulted on or even given a heads up to -- because Barack didn't want to be president of the United States. That was too small for Barry. He needed -- his ego needed -- a world stage. So when the British needed something to get their 5 citizens kidnapped by the League freed, Barry said, "Screw dead Americans who were killed doing a job their government ordered them to do, I'm going to free the League -- this rag-tag group of killers -- because I don't give a damn about the safety of Iraqis and because I want to get in good with England."
So Barry released them and, as usual from Princess Tiny Meat, his 'grand gesture' fell quickly. Because the addiction to the Kool-Aid was still so high in 2009, let's drop back we'll drop back to the June 9, 2009 snapshot with the realization that some who looked the other way in real time will now be outraged:
***********This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it." ******
Agreed. Not only did Barry betray the fallen, he demonstrated yet again no one should trust him at the adult table by himself. His 'big' deal resulted in only one living British citizen released. Three corpses were released.
The fifth kidnapped victim?
Though Barry's 'big' deal was supposed to free all five, the League, years later, is now insisting they want a new deal (and figure Barry's just the pushover to give it to them?). Al Mada reports they have issued a statement where they savage the US government for not honoring -- and quickly honoring -- the agreement made with them. As a result, they say Alan McMenemy will not be released.
Peter Moore, the only one released alive, was a computer tech working in Iraq. Four British bodyguards were protecting him. The bodyguards were McMenemy, Jason Swindlehurst, Alec MacLachlan and Jason Cresswell. The families of the four have continued to publicly request that Alan McMenemy be released.
They condemn the "procrastionation" of the US government after the deal was made and state that a promise was also broken when "US forces did not stop attacks" -- apparently Barack made very grand promises -- so now Alan McMenemy will not be released. The statement is credited to Akram al-Ka'bi.
What the statement really does is demonstrate what many condemned in 2009: The US government, the administration, entered into an agreement that did not benefit the US or Iraq. They freed known killers from prison. Killers of Iraqis, killers of American citizens. There was nothing to be gained by that act for Iraq or the US. At some point, history will ask how Barack Obama thought he was fulfilling his duties of commander in chief by making such an ignorant move?
We're out of flashback and back in the present. To briefly recap, the group killed 5 Americans. Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, not of the United Kingdom. But instead of pursuing justice for the five Americans killed in Iraq -- killed in a country their government sent them to -- he decided to do a solid for England and release the terrorists. He didn't even have the decency to see that the families of the five fallen Americans got a heads up.
Now we're going to December 17th, last month, when Charlie Savage (New York Times) reported on what was termed "a move likely to unleash a political backlash inside the United States." What was he reporting on? The White House's decision to release Ali Musa Daqduq to the Iraqi government, the man "accused of helping to orchestrate a January 2007 raid by Shiite militants who wore U.S.-style uniforms and carried forged identity cards. They killed five U.S. soldiers -- one immediately and four others who were kidnapped and later shot and dumped beside a road." Reporting on it the same day, Matt Apuzzo (AP) noted the reactions of two US senators.
Senator Mark Kirk (in a letter before the release): "Daqduq's Iranian paymasters would like nothing more than to see him transferred to Iraqi custody, where they could effectively pressure for his escape or release. We truly hope you will not let that happen."
Senator Saxby Chambliss (after news broke of the release): "Rather than ensure justice for five American soldiers killed by Hezbollah terrorist Ali Musa Daqduq, the administration turned him over to Iraq, once again completely abdicating its responsibility to hold on to deadly terrorists. Given Iraq's history of releasing detainees, I expect it is only a matter of time before this terrorist will be back on the battlefield."
Oh, are you honestly sorry? Really? For months, for years, you've let the loved ones of Alan McMenemy continue to hope he might turn up alive. While others found out the truth about their loved ones, you left them hanging even though they went on TV and publicly pleaded for an answer. For those who may have forgotten, in May 2010, Frank Gardner (BBC News) reported:
The wife of the only British hostage still missing in Iraq has appealed to his kidnappers to end her ordeal on the anniversary of his abduction. Gunmen abducted five men including security guard Alan McMenemy, from Glasgow, exactly three years ago. Rosaleen McMenemy has urged those holding him to show "mercy and compassion". Only one of the men has been released alive, while the bodies of three others have been returned to Britain.
The Telegraph of London quoted Rosaleen McMenemy stating, ""It's now been three years since he's been held captive, which is 1,096 days. This is far too long for myself and our two children and I would ask those holding him to please show mercy and compassion and return him to us immediately and unconditionally. You've showed compassion by releasing his four colleagues and I would ask you to do the same for my family to bring closure to this."
20 months after she makes that public plea, they think they can show up and claim to be "honestly sorry"?
They're "honestly sorry" today, they claim. They say the four body guards all died in the same attack? That would have been years ago. And yet just last July, what did they do? Al Mada reported on it, the headline said it all "League of Righteous: Fifth Hostage Alive, We Want Our Prisoners." They declared Alan McMenemy was alive and that they were not going to release him because they were icked off with the US holding some of their members.
Having tortured Alan McMenemy's loved ones repeatedly over the years by leaving them in the dark, the League of Righteous declared in October that he was still alive and now the family of Alan McMenemy learns that he's been dead for at least three years. And the terrorist want to claim to be "honestly sorry"? (AFP's Hassan Abdul Zahra, "The group said in July that it would not hand over McMenemy's body, in a statement worded to suggest he was still alive. Britain believes he has been killed.")
For those who missed it, radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has been on a recent tear denouncing the League repeatedly. Sunday, Alarab Online reported, "Anti-US Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr sharply criticised an offshoot of his movement on Sunday, accusing them of killing Iraqi soldiers and policemen and being beholden to neighbouring Iran. It is the first time Sadr, who is himself judged by critics as close to Tehran, has publicly stated that Asaib Ahel al-Haq, or the League of the Righteous, is supported by the Islamic Republic." Three days prior, Yusuf al-Murtada (AK News) reported:
The cleric Moqtada al-Sadr launched an attack on the participation of the League of the Righteous (Ahl al-Haq) in the political process, describing it as a group of "murderers" that "follows no religion". [. . .]
The League of the Righteous announced about its participation in the ongoing political process in the country and its leader Qais al-Khazali in Najaf alluded to the organization not disarming after 2011. Sadr said: "Didn't I tell you that they are the Chair's lovers? They are a group of murders that follows no religion."
Moqtada denounced them on one of his trips to Iraq last year noting that they were out of control. That was not the start of the split which is thought to have taken place around 2007. Despite the split, their "negotiator" (Salam al-Maliki)insisted to Niqash last October that the rupture had been healed. That does not appear to be the case. Their 2007 split, supposedly, had to do with actions Moqtada disapproved of. (Remember, they start under him. One of the umbrella groups he was denouncing last year.) His claims have been that they were targeting Iraqi civilians and that his movement did not support that. He further insists that they refused to stop attacking Iraqi civilians and, at that point, the break began. There are some Moqtada supporters who insist it was the League's actions that caused Nouri to attack Sadr strong holds in Basra and the Sadr City section of Baghdad in early 2008. Those defending the League tend to stress that they are among many Sadrist groups who have had to fend for themselves while their leader (Moqtada) was in Iran and that his fly-over visits to Iraq to criticize them underscores how out of touch with Iraqi life he is. They are among the groups who have hoped to replace Moqtada as a leader of Iraqi resistance.
From the real terrorists of the League of Righteous to the 'terrorists' that only Nouri can see. It was with great drama (and melodrama) that Nouri repeatedly commented on the "terrorists" and "Ba'athists" that he was 'forced' to arrest because they were plotting an overthrow of the government. His spokesperson insisted the information was solid and had come from the newly installed Libyan government. Dropping back to the October 27th snapshot:
But back to those eyes and ears al-Asadi was claiming, Al Mada reveals that the government is stating their source for the 'tips' about the alleged Ba'athist plot to take over Iraq came from the Transitional Government of Libya. The so-called rebels. A number of whom were in Iraq killing both Iraqis and US troops and British troops, several years ago. And supposedly prepping to rule Libya currently so you'd assume they had their hands full.
Tim Arango (New York Times) maintains that "secret intelligence documents" were discovered by the so-called 'rebels' that provided a link between Libya's late president Muammar Gaddafi and Ba'ath Party members and that Mahmoud Jibril made a trip to Baghdad to turn over the info. Jibril was acting prime minister who stepped down October 23rd. (We're back to when puppet regimes meet!) One would have assumed he had other things to focus on. It's also curious that this 'rebel' would have 'learned' after the fall of Tripoli of a plot. Curious because, unlike a number of 'rebel' leaders in Libya, Langley didn't ship Jibril in from Virginia, he was Gaddafi's hand picked head of the National Economic Development Board (2007 to 2011). One would assume he would have been aware of any big plot long before the so-called rebels began the US war on Libya.
So it says a great deal about the leadership (or lack of) Nouri offers when Al Mada reports that hundreds of those arrested are now being released. And that officials say the government is expected to release every one arrested. When the arrests started taking place weeks ago, the press estimate was over 500, with some noting over 700 but most going with the lower figure. Dar Addustour informs 820 Iraqis were arrested.
January 4, 2012, New York -- In response to President Obama's New Year's Eve signing of the controversial National Defense Authorization Act, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:
"The Center for Constitutional Rights strongly condemns the U.S. Congress for passing, and President Obama for signing, the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which effectively endorses war without end and makes indefinite military detention without charge or trial a permanent feature of the American legal system. This is the first time since the McCarthy Era that Congress has written indefinite detention into law. We had hoped that President Obama -- a constitutional law professor and believer in the aspirational course of American justice -- would uphold his promise to veto this radical law that threatens to roll back both decades-old legislation enacted to combat McCarthy-era excesses and 19th-century limitations on domestic military policing. At the same time that heroic activists in the Arab world are risking their lives to rid themselves of the remnants of their authoritarian and militaristic regimes, the United States is embracing practices contrary to the basic aspirations of any constitutional democracy.
The NDAA reauthorizes and extends the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which has been used to justify the detention of men at Guantanamo without charge or trial for the past ten years. The NDAA also goes further and broadens the range of activities that warrant indefinite detention to include undefined 'substantial support' for terrorism. In addition, the NDAA contains no geographic limitation and allows the president to indefinitely detain even American citizens. President Obama did pledge in a signing statement not to use this law to detain American citizens but this provides little comfort, as signing statements have no legal force and he has repeatedly failed to uphold similar promises in the face of political pressure -- including his pledge to close Guantanamo within his first year in office. More important, even if President Obama were to keep this promise, the law authorizes a future President, such as a President Romney, President Bachman, or President Perry, to use this authorization in the most aggressive manner available.
Whatever ambiguity the legislation creates regarding the detention of American citizens, it clearly requires the military detention of non-citizens suspected of an association with al Qaeda or suspected of having committed terrorist acts, even within the territorial United States. The U.S. Army, rather than civilian law enforcement, will be required to make arrests on U.S. soil; and military detention, not the basic constitutional guarantees of our civilian justice system must be deployed. No one should be held indefinitely without the opportunity to challenge their detention. Human rights are not limited by citizenship.
The NDAA continues to place utterly unnecessary and onerous obstacles to closing Guantanamo. The law prohibits the president from transferring anyone to the U.S. for trial, and also prohibits the transfer of innocent detainees to their home countries or to third countries willing to resettle them unless the Defense Department effectively guarantees the detainee will never again commit wrongdoing. According to the Defense Department, these conditions are nearly impossible to satisfy, which effectively prevents the transfer and resettlement of 89 men -- over half of the 171 currently detained in Guantanamo -- who have been unanimously cleared for release by the CIA, FBI, NSC, and Defense Department. Even as we are contemplating a peace deal with the Taliban and have, according to the Defense Department, largely vanquished al Qaeda, the NDAA guarantees that the U.S. carry on a dangerous war paradigm into a second decade."
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.