The National Defence Authorisation Act continues the onward march of the 'war on terror' through the American homeland.
To be clear, the NDAA does not institute martial law for all in the US. But it would be foolish not to see that it lays a potential foundation for it in the future. Students of history, and those of us new Americans who have lived under military or militarised regimes - and that includes many Muslim Americans - will spot the kinship and recognise in this law some of the markers of authoritarian rule.
Read it at Al Jazeera
by Ramzi Kassem - Associate Professor of Law at the City University of New York
Read the tea leaves.
Hopefully, this is something that left and right libertarians can agree upon, as well as anyone else that sees a danger in authoritarian rule.
t seems that no one wants the NDAA, except the politicians who have staked their careers on a war the public might think has ended with the death of Osama bin Laden. At a time when the US economy teeters on the brink of collapse, those elected officials want to ensure they can continue to score cheap political points by stoking the fires of fear, paranoia and prejudice.
Further enabling such legislation, on a deeper level, is its tacit subtext. What is understood by many, but left mostly unspoken, is that these laws would apply only to the most unpopular and reviled minority in post-9/11 America: Muslims. Acknowledging the danger looming ahead, a large coalition of Muslim American groups wrote a letter last week to the White House, urging a presidential veto of the legislation. Alas, it now appears inevitable that Obama will sign the NDAA into law, perhaps with a signing statement, an official interpretation of the law that would only bind his administration, rather than take political risks in an election cycle by vetoing the law altogether.
In the infamous Korematsu case, where the US Supreme Court approved the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, Justice Robert Jackson dissented, warning about the decision's potentially long-lasting reverberations in terms that ring equally true in our context today. Regardless of how long they are left unused, or how selectively they are applied at first, laws such as section 412 of the USA PATRIOT Act, and now the NDAA provisions, "[lie] about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need". While it may well be inescapable that the brunt of the NDAA will be borne initially by Muslims in the US, make no mistake: the threat in the long run is to the very nature of American government and to all who are subject to its authority.