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Subject:  At the Bar: NDAA Date:  12/30/2011  12:40 PM
Author:  WuLong Number:  53717 of 53867

I wrote a lengthy (for a posting board) essay in PA about the detention bill that Congress has passed. For those that are interested in the discussion in that venue: http://boards.fool.com/indefinite-detention-approved-2974937...

With the holiday weekend and all, it might just scoll past and not get traction. But since I actually have thought about this a lot, and since it took a while to detail out, I've decided to repost it here. With luck, there will be some reasoned discussion.

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The ability to arbitrarily suspend an individual's freedom and rights for an indefinite period is the antithesis of why this country was founded.
The ability to detain individuals without due process is the antithesis of this country's founding. The question becomes what defines "due process" in our current situation. I will attempt to define this a bit below. Note that I may fail - it happens.

Let's start with an assumption: We are engaged in a struggle against an organization which seeks to disrupt or overthrow our country thru the use of physical attack.

I'm using several word here very purposefully and it is worth hi-liting them.

First, engaged. Is this true? Are we still engaged in a struggle? It's been 10 years since the Towers fell, bin Laden is dead.
I think we are. Defeat is an event that occurs in the mind of an enemy, and I'm not convinced our enemies are prepared to stand down. Nevertheless, this is the most important word in the assumption - how will we know when we are done?

Second is struggle. I did not say "war". If this were a war we would be able to define things fairly easily. We would detain enemy soldiers as POWs and return them according to negotiated protocols. Note that we did this even during the Cold War (which while not declared by Congress was still for all other intents and purposes a war). Because it is a loosely defined struggle, we have a loosely defined set of parameters for detaining participants.

Third is organization. I did not say "country". We have no one we can approach thru diplomatic channels to attempt to create protocols for handling participants. Further, this makes it difficult to define who is and is not a participant.

Finally, physical attack. Remember the Towers. Remember Madrid. Remember the Cole. Failure to identify and detain participants has deadly consequences. As citizens, we have a responsibility to attempt to protect ourselves. An ounce of prevention....

OK then. Let's look at the specific statements in the press release (