A leap backward

By Nooreen M

Living in America, as a US citizen, it is safe to assume that we’re protected under the constitution. Tax rates may go up, the economy may fall down, but at the end of the day, all American citizens are guaranteed basic rights- and we have the constitution to prove it. However, a recent bill has threatened that for some Americans.


The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill was signed by President Obama on December 31, 2011. This $662 billion law authorizes the Treasury Department of the United States to fund the Department of Defense. The money from this bill will pay for the salaries of the armed forces, ammunition, equipment and anything else that falls into the category of “defense.”


The provisions of this bill suspend Constitutional rights for American citizens if they are involved in any sort of “terrorist” acts. It basically denies the rights stated in the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth amendments. These amendments prohibit unreasonable searches and seizure, allow the right to due process and self incrimination, the right to have a fair and speedy public trial by jury, prohibit excessive fines, bail and cruel and unusual punishment.


Looking at the situation logically, there is no excuse for the signing of this bill. President Obama stated, in his signing statement, “The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.” In my opinion, signing such a colossal bill regardless of some “reservations” he may have is extremely irresponsible. And the American Civil Liberties Union said that, “the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war.” If it violates international law, how was it passed?


Barack Obama ran for President four years ago on the platform that he would end indefinite detention and shut down the prisons at Guantanamo Bay. By signing this bill, it clearly shows that he has not and does not plan to follow through on his original plan. Denying even a terrorist the right to a trail indefinitely is both unconstitutional and immoral. Being innocent until proven guilty is something that is slowly being diminished to just a phrase, and not the ideal our country had always stood for. By passing this bill, the United States is circumventing the FBI in its role of counterterrorism and putting more power in the executive office than the government agencies that are supposed to deal with counterterrorism.


Sometimes, there are more ways than one to solve a problem. Not following through with the constitution and denying citizens’ basic rights is not the right solution.