Gene Healy on the National Defense Authorization Act


Last Thursday—which happened to be the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights—the Senate passed a defense bill that demonstrates just how cavalier Congress can be with our fundamental liberties. Given the opportunity to clarify existing law and confirm that American citizens are not subject to indefinite military detention at the order of the president—Congress punted. After a debate in which key members seriously contemplated empowering the president to "Gitmo-ize" Americans suspected of terrorist activity, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 leaves the question open. Maybe he can, maybe he can't, so let's let the courts sort it out. The legislation is ready for President Obama's signature, the president having caved on his earlier veto threat, writes Gene Healy. Happy Bill of Rights Day!