National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Updated Sep 18, 2012 at 10:11PM EDT by Brad.

Added Jan 02, 2012 at 11:57PM EST by Luxas.

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The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)[1] is a United States federal law that specifies the budget and expenditure of the Department of Defense. While the budget bill has been annually enacted for the past 49 fiscal years, it became a subject of intense debate in 2011 for its controversial sections 1021 and 1022 that would allow for indefinite detention of American citizens without trial. The bill for fiscal year 2012 was signed on December 31st, 2011 by President Barack Obama.


The House version of the bill “H.R. 1540 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012” was introduced on April 13th, 2011, sponsored by California Republican representative Howard McKeon and Washington Democratic representative Adam Smith. The Senate version of the bill “S.1867 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012” was introduced on November 14th, 2011, sponsored by Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin.


On November 17th, 2011, the White House issued a statement[2] that threatened to veto the senate version of the act, claiming that some of the provisions in the bill “disrupt the Executive branch’s ability to aggressively combat international terrorism.”

Any bill that challenges or constrains the President’s critical authorities to collect intelligence,
incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the Nation would prompt the President’s senior
advisers to recommend a veto.

The House version of the bill that included the controversial terror suspect detention provisions passed with 283 aye votes and 136 nay votes on December 14th, 2011. The senate version of the bill passed on December 15th, 2011 with 86 aye votes and 13 nay votes. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on December 31st, 2011 and issued a statement[8] claiming he was signing the bill in order to fund United States:

“the legislation does nothing more than confirm authorities that the Federal courts have recognized as lawful under the 2001 AUMF. I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.”

On Twitter

On December 19th, 2011, David Seaman posted an article on Business Insider[12] claiming his Twitter account was suspended for tweeting about Occupy Wall Street and the NDAA. Afterwards the post was updated saying his Twitter account had been restored, but provided a link to an International Business Times[13] article with reports of other Twitter account suspensions.

According to Trendistic[5], tweets containing “ndaa” peaked on December 31st, the same day President Obama signed the bill into law. Much of the conversation on Twitter was critical of both the bill and Obama’s failure to veto.

On Reddit

One of the first threads mentioning the NDAA bill was posted to Reddit[9] by user mepper on May 16th, 2011. The thread linked to a post on the ACLU blog[11] that claimed the bill would “authorize a new worldwide war.” As of January 3rd, 2012, there have been 31 threads related to the bill that have reached the front page of Reddit with a score over 1,000.

On Blogs

Politico[16][17][18] writer Josh Gerstein published several blog posts regarding the bill, often pointing out the criticism coming from President Obama’s liberal base. The left-wing political blog Wonkette[20][21] published articles criticizing the President’s refusal to veto the bill.

On January 3rd, BoingBoing[14] writer Mark Frauenfelder posted about the NDAA urging readers to tell their representatives to repeal that act, linking to a form on the progressive online campaign website Demand Progress.[15] The same day, The Huffington Post[19] posted an article debunking claims that the bill would not authorize the detention of United States citizens.

Anonymous Response

On December 3rd, 2011, the YouTube channel anonymous04210 published a video titled “Anonymous – Message to the American People” that included a statement by a member of Anonymous about the dangers of the NDAA and warned the American people that it was turning the country into a “police state.” The video was subsequently posted to the tech blog Digital Trends[22] on December 8th.

Dear brothers and sisters. Now is the time to open your eyes!

In a stunning move that has civil libertarians stuttering with disbelief, the U.S. Senate has just passed a bill that effectively ends the Bill of Rights in America.

The National Defense Authorization Act is being called the most traitorous act ever witnessed in the Senate, and the language of the bill is cleverly designed to make you think it doesn’t apply to Americans, but toward the end of the bill, it essentially says it can apply to Americans "if we want it to.

Bill Summary & Status, 112th Congress (2011 -- 2012) | S.1867 | Latest Title: National Defense Authorization Act for.

This bill, passed late last night in a 93-7 vote, declares the entire USA to be a “battleground” upon which U.S. military forces can operate with impunity, overriding Posse Comitatus and granting the military the unchecked power to arrest, detain, interrogate and even assassinate U.S. citizens with impunity.

Even WIRED magazine was outraged at this bill, reporting:

Senate Wants the Military to Lock You Up Without Trial

…the detention mandate to use indefinite military detention in terrorism cases isn’t limited to foreigners. It’s confusing, because two different sections of the bill seem to contradict each other, but in the judgment of the University of Texas’ Robert Chesney -- a nonpartisan authority on military detention -- “U.S. citizens are included in the grant of detention authority.”

The passage of this law is nothing less than an outright declaration of WAR against the American People by the military-connected power elite. If this is signed into law, it will shred the remaining tenants of the Bill of Rights and unleash upon America a total military dictatorship, complete with secret arrests, secret prisons, unlawful interrogations, indefinite detainment without ever being charged with a crime, the torture of Americans and even the “legitimate assassination” of U.S. citizens right here on American soil!

If you have not yet woken up to the reality of the police state we’ve been warning you about, I hope you realize we are fast running out of time. Once this becomes law, you have no rights whatsoever in America. -- no due process, no First Amendment speech rights, no right to remain silent, nothing.

The US senate does not want us to speak. I suspect even now orders are being shouted into telephones and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?
Cruelty and injustice…intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance, coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told…if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War. Terror. Disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you and in your panic, you turned to the now President in command Barack Obama. He promised you order. He promised you peace. And all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.

More than four hundred years ago, a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness. Justice, and freedom are more than words – they are perspectives. So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you, then I would suggest that you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek…then I ask you to stand beside one another, one year from November 5th, 2011, outside the gates of every court house of every city DEMANDING our rights!!

Together we stand against the injustice of our own Government.

We are anonymous.
We are Legion.
United as ONE.
Divided by zero.
We do not forgive Censorship.
We do not forget Oppression.
Expect us!!

OWS Protest

On January 3rd, 2011, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators gathered at New York City’s Grand Central station to protest Obama’s signing of the NDAA. According to The Huffington Post[23], 3 people were arrested and 2 people were issued summonses to appear in court.

Notable Examples

Image Macros

After President Obama signed the bill into law, image macros began circulating that were critical of the President’s decision:


Search Interest

Search queries for “ndaa” and “national defense authorization act” began picking up in November of 2011, the same month the senate version of the bill was voted on.

External References

[1]US Government Printing Office – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

[2] – Statement of Administration Policy

[3]Open Congress – H.R.1540 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

[4]Open Congress – S.1867 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

[5]Trendistic – #ndaa

[6]Guardian – The NDAA’s historic assault on American liberty

[7]Think Progress – Obama Signs Defense Authorization Bill

[8]UCSBStatement on Signing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

[9]Reddit – WHAT THE FUCK? Congress ready to vote on worldwide war bill

[10]Gawker – 20 Things You Should Know About the Bill That Could Ruin America

[11]ACLUHouse Gets Ready to Vote on New Worldwide War

[12]Business Insider – Welcome To The United Police States of America, Sponsored By Twitter

[13]International Business Times – Are NDAA, SOPA, Occupy Wall Street and Anonymous Off-Limits on Twitter?

[14]Boing Boing – Missing portion of Obama Hope poster revealed

[15]Demand Progress – Tell Congress To Undo The NDAA, Ban Indefinite Military Detention Of Americans

[16]Politico – On National Defense Authorization Act, Obama pulls veto threat

[17]Politico – National Defense Authorization Act passes House, 283-136

[18]Politico – On National Defense Authorization Act, Robert Mueller not satisfied

[19]The Huffington Post – The National Defense Authorization Act Our Disappearing Rights and Liberties

[20]Wonkette – Obama Won’t Veto Law That Turns Military Into Domestic Police Force

[21]Wonkette – Barack Obama Guiltily Signs Off On Eternal Imprisonment Without Trial

[22]Digital Trends – Anonymous turns its attention to the U.S. Senate over controversial bill

[23]The Huffington Post – Occupy Wall Street Protests In Grand Central Against Signing Of NDAA

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