I'm recommending this article as an entry point into a very interesting rabbit hole regarding the NDAA. Rand Paul and Dianne Feinstein have proposed a simple amendment stating that an authorization for the use of military force by Congress does not authorize the indefinite detention of US citizens on US soil unless it is explicitly stated.
I can't say that I have a problem with such a clarification, but everybody else does.
The libertarian left doesn't like it because the Constitution prevents such detentions of both citizens and non-citizens alike. I agree with that in theory, but it clearly didn't help much in the case of Padilla and the matter was never really satisfactorily resolved, so I can't say I'm opposed to some clarification from Congress even if it is only part of what is needed.
The authoritarians don't like it because they don't like civil liberties at all. The Wall Street Journal editorial that the linked blog post skewers is a great example. Check out this zinger:
With its strict rules on surveillance, the U.S. is already something of a safe haven for people who wish to kill innocents.
Frankly, the time for Congress to make this clarification was in 2002, not in 2012. It means little now. Furthermore, the authoritarians have a funny way of referring to Supreme Court decisions that occurred over the past 10 years in which they got their asses handed to them as if they agreed with those positions all along. Here is the WSJ again:
This question last reached the Supreme Court in the 2004 case of Louisiana-born al Qaeda terrorist Yasser Hamdi. The Court said that Hamdi deserved a habeas corpus hearing to challenge his detention, but it reasonably declined to equate his predicament with that of a domestic criminal.
The authoritarians didn't want Hamdi to have a habeas hearing either!
In the end, although its nice to have Congress clarifying things like this, the Supreme Court is the only authority that the authoritarians respect. The message needs to come from there.
Or we need to amend the Constitution to clarify this rather than passing a bill in Congress.
WSJ editors come out swinging in defense of indefinite detention of US citizens | Privacy SOS