House Pushes Ahead With $611 Billion Defense Policy Bill

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Image: CBS Dallas

The Republican-led House is pushing ahead with a $611 billion defense policy bill that prohibits closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and forbids the Pentagon from trimming the number of military bases.

The annual policy bill also awards U.S. troops their largest pay raise in six years.

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Posted by Libergirl


California governor signs law defying cooperation with NDAA indefinite detention

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California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a law barring state cooperation with any attempt by the federal government to indefinitely detain people. The legislation targets the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Brown signed into law AB351, which goes beyond any other state in rejecting federal indefinite detention power, according to the Tenth Amendment Center. The law reads, in part, “It is the policy of this state to refuse to provide material support for or to participate in any way with the implementation within this state of any federal law that purports to authorize indefinite detention of a person within California.”

The NDAA allows the US military to indefinitely detain anyone – sans charges or a trial – on the basis of“national security” concerns. The legislation has drawn a series of legal challenges and attempts in several states to limit its strength.

California’s new law not only targets the NDAA provisions, but also any future federal law that grants officials open-ended detention powers.

Though the NDAA has not been used to date, both administrations of Presidents Obama and George W. Bush have claimed power to detain indefinitely without charge “enemy combatants” caught in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world at Guantanamo Bay and other prisons.

In September, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges announced that he would be taking part in a federal lawsuit demanding the Supreme Court weigh in on the constitutionality of the NDAA provision allowing for indefinite detention.

That move was only the latest in a long legal saga following a legal victory with the appellate court of New York which last year declared Section 1021 of the NDAA unconstitutional. The Obama administration quickly appealed that ruling, and in July it was overturned.

Hedges, who says he has illegally been held by the US government numerous times during his career as a foreign correspondent, wrote that the appellate court overturned the initial victory against the NDAA because “with respect to citizens, lawful resident aliens, or individuals captured or arrested in the United States, Section 1021 simply says nothing at all.”

“The court, in essence, said that because it did not construe the law as applying to US citizens and lawful residents we could not bring the case to court,” Hedges wrote in his September op-ed.

Hedges pointed out that the Supreme Court may never hear the case, as it receives some 8,000 requests each year. Out of those, it only hears between 80 and 100.

California’s move against indefinite detention powers, however, marks a continuing trend among individual states.

Last year, Virginia signed a bill into law prohibiting state cooperation with federal government attempts at indefinite detention. The state of Alaska then passed a similar bill.

From Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

No trial, transfer or release: Gitmo’s ‘indefinite detainees’ identified

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For the first time since President Obama took office Washington has publicly disclosed the names of inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp classified as “indefinite detainees” – those who pose too great a threat to release but cannot be tried in court.

Image: AFP Photo / Jim Watson)

The 48 inmates were first identified in 2009 when the Obama administration first announced plans to close the prison camp by executive order. Authorities examining the cases, though, determined at that time 48 inmates who would be impossible to try in court because of a lack of evidence, or because the evidence was too tainted. They are ineligible for release, though, because the government has deemed them an immediate threat to American lives.

The Department of Defense disclosed the names to the Miami Herald, which, along with a group of Yale Law School students, successfully sued for the list under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Pentagon has also provided the list to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees of Congress.

Included on the list are Khalid Abdullah Al Awda, an alleged Taliban member who worked with al-Qaeda before fleeing Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and Fayez al-Kandari, who is accused of being an advisor to slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Both detainees, and dozens of others on the list, are currently on hunger strike and being force-fed.

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Posted by The NON-Conformist

US picks new envoy to oversee Guantanamo closure

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Image: AFP Photo / Michelle Shephard / Toronto Star / Pool

The US State Department is expected on Monday to announce the appointment of a new lawyer to oversee the closure of the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison.

Cliff Sloan, a Washington lawyer, will take on the post, according to sources familiar with the decision.

Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that Sloan possessed…

 “the intellect and skill as a negotiator respected across party lines,” adding “Cliff and I share the president’s conviction that Guantanamo’s continued operation isn’t in our security interests.”

Sloan has previously served with all three branches of the government and worked on cases in both state and federal courts.

The Guantanamo prison was set up during the Bush administration to try suspected Al Qaeda members and other terrorists. But it turned into a prolonged affair, with evidence on inmates often lacking and the methods chosen for interrogation coming under fire from human rights advocates around the world, who often called them “torture.”

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