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NDAA 2014 steamrolled through Congress

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Published on Dec 12, 2013

WASHINGTON DC | Congressman "Buck" McKeon (R), and Sens. Carl Levin (D) and Jim Inhofe (R), unveiled some details of the infamous National Defense Authorization Act at a Dec. 9 press conference. They plan to blast the NDAA through both legislative chambers before the holiday break—with minimal amendments allowed. That reportedly has angered a number of Senators.

A major concern, which much of the media is downplaying, is that it appears the new NDAA quietly brings a new issue into focus—potentially increased surveillance of Americans—building on the NDAA's already dark legacy of including language that suggests noncombatant Americans, merely suspected of aiding alleged "terrorists," could be locked up indefinitely by the military under the laws of war

As reported by the news website truthout.org, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), passed back in 1978, "set the groundwork for surveillance, collection, and analysis of intelligence gathered from foreign powers and agents of foreign powers, up to and including any individual residing within the U.S., who were suspected of involvement in potential terrorist activity."

FISA was followed by the grossly misnamed USA Patriot Act, passed on Oct. 26, 2001. Renewed by Congress several times since then, the Patriot Act permits government to obtain secret court orders allowing roving wiretaps "without requiring identification of the person, organization, or facility to be surveyed," truthout added.

Thus, NDAA 2014 apparently builds on the powers granted by both the Patriot Act and FISA by allowing largely unrestricted analysis and research of captured records pertaining to any organization or individual now or once "hostile" to the United States.

Under the new NDAA's Sec. 1061 (g) (1), an overly vague definition of captured records evidently enhances government power and guarantees indefinite surveillance.

A Congressional Research Service summary perused by WHDT notes that Sec. 1061, subtitle G: "Authorizes the Secretary to establish the Conflict Records Research Center to facilitate research and analysis of records captured from countries, organizations, and individuals now or once hostile to the United States." And as noted by the conservative New American magazine: "The center would be tasked with compiling a 'digital research database.'"

"Facing a [Dec. 13] deadline, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees are abandoning regular order so the [new NDAA] can be signed into law for [the] 52nd straight year," The Hill, a Washington journal, noted.

Therefore, the Senate will not have time to consider the hundreds of amendments that were filed to the initial Senate defense bill, but Senators can still opt to filibuster the measure, meaning that Defense Department leaders have no ironclad guarantee of success.

Moreover, House and Senate NDAA negotiators turned back Obama's renewed push to close the military prison at Guantanamo, thereby extending a prohibition on the transfer of prisoners to the United States and forbidding the construction of [U.S.] facilities to house them. But for transfers of Gitmo prisoners to other countries, restrictions were loosened. Sen. Levin said, therefore, that about half of Gitmo's prisoners will be transferred, and the other half will stay there.

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