NDAA and Guantanamo Bay Show Obama is Still Crushing Civil Rights

President Obama recently signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, proving once again that, in foreign policy, the Bush Doctrine reigns. To be sure, Obama made a stellar choice in appointing Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. However, his failure to close Guantanamo Bay prison, and his decisions to pursue detainment powers under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force act are missteps.

The Guantanamo Bay detention facility is arguably one of the most egregious affronts to our nation’s principles. It contradicts our most fundamental beliefs of civil and political human rights, and sends a message to other nations to disregard them as well. Yet, there has been consistent backtracking on the judicial oversight that finally arrived for Guantanamo Bay detainees in 2004 when the Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo Bay prisoners had rights to due process.   

To be clear, Obama could have vetoed the NDAA. Others, such as President Reagan, Clinton, W. Bush and Carter, vetoed such acts during their terms. If there were any reason to veto a bill, denying individuals a fair trial has to be among the top 10.

However, President Obama signed the bill. Though this marks yet another missed opportunity to right the path of U.S. counter-terrorism policies, his signing is not surprising. The current administration has pursued a broad scope of “covered persons” under the original 2001 bill, which allows for the indefinite detention of persons without due process, including U.S. citizens. When a federal district court judge struck down the law as unconstitutional, the administration appealed the ruling.

That any person should be held by a United States agency without the possibility of being transferred for trial in a federal court is ludicrous. Equally ludicrous is that Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, may never close down the facility or revoke the ill-created precedent of detaining people (U.S. citizens or not) indefinitely without trial.

Obama once stated, “Today we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms. If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction.”

Perhaps we can all agree that a good moral compass points toward upholding fundamental civil rights, even against the most heinous perpetrators.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Mariellen Jewers

is senior research associate for the Center for Health Care Quality at the George Washington University. She has a BA in Economics from the UMass Amherst, a Master's in International Affairs from Columbia and is a PhD student in Public Policy at George Washington.

MORE FROM

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.