What a great name. Who wouldn’t be for defense of the nation?
It gives the President the ability to pick up virtually any person in the world and hold them indefinitely without any trial or legal procedings, for as long as he chooses. Congress told constituents that it doesn’t apply to American citizens. They misled you. Not clear if your particular congressman did that intentionally or out of ignorance, but the majority of Congress told their constituents that it WOULDN’T apply to Americans. They even changed the title of the bill to say that it only applied to “foreign al-Qaeda terrorists.” But they didn’t change the law itself. It still has the same verbage that covers everybody.
Section 1021 of the bill says that it “includ[es] any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.” So it’s totally up to the president and his designees as to who a person is and what constitutes aid and what constitutes hostilities. They addded a kicker that the federal government is not “required” to detain US citizens in military custody under that law, like it is for non-US citizens, but it doesn’t bother to take away that option. Which shouldn’t be an option for the government to do under the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments to the Consitution. Pretty much gutting the Bill of Rights. It also ignores the provisions and stipulations under which Americans can be charged with treason under Article 3.
Not to worry. Presbo has said that he won’t use this new power. Nor would his Attorney General Holder. Unless something bad happens. Since 911, the FBI has infiltrated 40 United States political groups, convinced someone in the group to plot violence against the goevernment, financed, trained and equiped their efforts, and then arrested everybody involved with lots of headlines about their having stopped a terrorist attack. Now they don’t have to go through all that effort. They can just pick up anyone they choose connected to that groups and make them dissapear. The law doesn’t specify what kind of support is supportive. Totally up to the government. They will no longer have to worry about slipups that caused things like the Oklahoma City bombing. That one kind of got away from them.
In 1962, the parliment of South Africa, starting to feel not so comfortable at the helm, passed a law legalizing detention without trial. They promised never to use it. Unless something bad happened.