Thursday, May 24, 2012

Action: Ask Congress to Remove Detention Provisions From NDAA
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/21/12) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on Muslims and all Americans who value civil liberties to urge their elected representatives in Congress to remove all language in this year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that justifies the indefinite military detention within the United States, without charge or trial, of those suspected of terrorism.
On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the NDAA for 2013 (HR 4310) by a vote of 299 – 120, approving the 369 billion dollar defense spending bill. Tomorrow, May 22, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to begin consideration of its own version of the defense spending bill. If passed, both bills will be reconciled by conference committee.
While this annual defense authorization act provides valuable funding for the Armed Forces, it also contains misleading provisions that fail to put an end to threat of indefinite military detention within the United States.
The House version of the NDAA contains a misleading amendment offered by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) that claims to safeguard "habeas corpus rights," the right to petition the courts from unlawful detention.
However, CAIR believes that the real issue with last year's NDAA was not that it took away the right to petition unlawful detention, but that it declared indefinite military detention of Americans as lawful. Maintaining habeas rights will not help detainees challenge illegal detention if their detention has been made legal.
Last week, CAIR and a coalition of other civil liberties organizations endorsed a bipartisan amendment offered by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) that would have repealed the indefinite detention provisions passed in last year's NDAA. The coalition also expressed serious concerns over Rep. Gohmert's "habeas corpus" amendment. Congress however rejected the amendment by a vote of 238 to 182.
Two days earlier, federal Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York granted a preliminarily injunction to block the enforcement of last year's NDAA indefinite detention provisions because they failed to "pass constitutional muster." Activists and journalist challenged the law's vagueness in defining "material support" to forces "associated" with to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. The judge's decision is expected to be appeal.
"An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an 'associated force' without even being aware that he or she was doing so," said Judge Katherine Forrest. "This court is acutely aware that preliminarily enjoining an act of Congress must be done with great caution. . .However, it is the responsibility of our judicial system to protect the public from acts of Congress which infringe upon constitutional rights."
Last year, CAIR campaigned for the removal of NDAA sections that authorize the U.S. military to police domestically, make arrests and indefinitely detain persons suspected of terrorism without charge or trial. CAIR was one of the many civil rights organizations that joined members of Congress in protesting the NDAA's detention powers, stating that they were unconstitutional and an overreach of the president's authority.
"We need to act now and let Congress know that we won't accept any watered-down assurances that our due process rights are secure," said CAIR Government Affairs Coordinator Robert McCaw. "We need to ask for real change that puts an end to the prospect of indefinite detention. This year's NDAA fails to truthfully address any of the public's concerns over the threat of indefinite detention and only offers a solution to a problem that does not exist."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
To contact your representatives in Congress and ask for real change that puts an end to indefinite detention, CAIR has provided a letter to which you can add a message of your own or simply fill in your name and address and click "send message."
SEND A LETTER TO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS Seeking End to Indefinite Detention
For more information, contact: CAIR Government Affairs Coordinator Robert McCaw, Tel: 202-742-6448, E-Mail:; CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, E-Mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:

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