The first installment explained how the NDAA could be used as a tool for political repression, especially in concert with parallel powers expanded by the PATRIOT Act, and upheld by the Supreme Court, that apologists for the NDAA have generally ignored.
The second installment explained how our nation’s failure to pursue accountability for torture enabled the NDAA’s passage, and also portends the recurrence of torture under the domestic military detention regime the NDAA has authorized. It concluded by noting that torture could create artificial legitimacy for military detention by coercing confessions from whomever is subjected to it.
Put simply, allowing torturers to go free created the conditions to politically whitewash abuses whose predictable recurrence the NDAA will enable. When torture recurs, it will in turn confer false legitimacy on a profoundly un-American system and undermine political will to restore limits on our government’s power, however deviously it may develop in the future.
Q: Have similar laws caused abuses elsewhere? A: Do political repression and genocide count?
Both world history and current events offer crucial insights on the potential results of authorizing detention without trial.
Those results once inspired our nation to wage a World War. According to the U.S. National Holocaust Memorial Museum:
German authorities under National Socialism established a variety of detention facilities….In time their extensive camp system came to include concentration camps, where persons were incarcerated without observation of the standard norms applying to arrest and custody….
“[U]nofficial” killings….[were] routinely written up as “suicides,” “accidental” deaths, and “justified killings” of prisoners who were “trying to escape,” “assaulting a guard,” “sabotaging production,” or “inciting prisoners to revolt.…”
Incarceration in a concentration camp was rarely linked to a specific crime or actual subversive activity; the SS and police ordered incarceration based on their suspicion that an individual person…would likely commit a crime or engage in a subversive activity in the future. Read the rest of this entry →