Feinstein seeks to amend National Defense Authorization Act

On Feb. 29, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to amend the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The act, which allocates funding to the nation’s military and its activities, includes provisions that authorize the “indefinite detention” of American citizens suspected of terrorism without charge or trial.

Feinstein, who opposed the bill last December with another amendment, was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 45 to 55, according to an e-mail from the senator. According to a signing statement, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on Dec. 31 “despite having serious reservations” and pledged not to detain citizens or permanent residents without due process. The pledge, however, does not apply to future administrations.

Organizations such as the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) warned against the NDAA, which evokes the mass incarceration of persons of Japanese descent in concentration camps during World War II.

“When we hear about indefinite detention today, the promise is that we’re not going to do what was done in 1942,” Floyd Mori, national executive director of the JACL, said in an electronic newsletter. “That may be well and good, but one never knows who will administer and interpret this particular piece of law.”

According to the JACL, the Feb. 29 meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committee members included Feinstein, Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove), other members of Congress and Lorraine Bannai, director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality and former member of the legal team that reopened Korematsu v. United States.

Bannai testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee citing her Japanese American heritage. As a Sansei, her parents, grandparents and other relatives were incarcerated at the Manzanar concentration camp in California.

“We know now what Japanese Americans always knew — that their imprisonment was unlawful,” Bannai said in the newsletter. “It occurred because we, as a country, chose to sacrifice fundamental rights characteristic of a nation of laws even as we were fighting to preserve those rights on the battlefield.”

Feinstein introduced the Due Process Guarantee Act (SB 2003), which aims to “guarantee that a congressional authorization for military force does not usurp the right to due process for American Citizens apprehended on U.S. soil,” according to Feinstein’s e-mail.

Garamendi joined Feinstein to introduce the Due Process Guarantee Act in the House, which is co-sponsored by 62 bipartisan members, according to the congressman.

Garamendi told the Senate Judiciary Committee the amendment “provides clarity in an area where Congress and the American people cannot afford to have ambiguity.”

While the amendment is a welcome sight for the JACL, the organization said, “the JACL appreciates this first step, but as a civil and human rights organization, we would like to see a bill protecting the rights of all people,” citing that the Due Process Guarantee Act only protects the rights of American citizens and legal permanent residents.

Comments

  1. The NDAA only goes to further stifle our Constitutional Rights without the approval of the Americans, just as the Patriot Act was adopted WITHOUT public approval or vote just weeks after the events of 9/11. A mere 3 criminal charges of terrorism a year are attributed to this act, which is mainly used for no-knock raids leading to drug-related arrests without proper cause for search and seizure. The laws are simply a means to spy on our own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents without trial or a right to council. You can read much more about living in this Orwellian society of fear and see my visual response to these measures on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/09/living-in-society-of-fear-ten-years.html

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