Group Says Defense Act Exploits Fear Of Terrorism

Organized opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 is rolling into Lane County. People Against the NDAA (PANDA) question the act’s authority to undermine basic rights in cases of suspected terrorism, with two subsections in the 2012 NDAA allowing for indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens without trial. The law affirms the 9/11-era Authorization for Use of Military Force that granted the president enhanced powers against suspected terrorists until the “end of hostilities” in the “War on Terror.”

PANDA will hold town hall meetings with presentations by founder Dan Johnson in Springfield and North Bend next week, protesting misuse of the NDAA, which exists to authorize the military’s budget. “Instead it became a haystack bill,” Johnson says. “Politicians would throw needles in and hope they never got seen.” Nearly 200 amendments were proposed.

The 2014 NDAA passed the House last month, while key amendments to change the 2012 provisions were voted down. Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader voted against it; Rep. Greg Walden voted in favor. “It was kind of disappointing,” says Shane Ozbun, Oregon state coordinator for PANDA.

Days later, Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson wrote Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Rep. DeFazio to keep the issue bubbling. Sorenson says, “I think that the federal courts will strike down the ‘military detention’ component.” He refers to Hedges v. Obama, a case in the U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit in New York, held in limbo since February. A decision would deem parts of the NDAA unconstitutional. “This case, unless mooted, is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he says.

A Coos County vote may reject the maligned parts of the NDAA, starting a process for Oregon to join states like Indiana, where the full Senate passed a resolution against them. PANDA and partners Oath Keepers and The Patriot Coalition want opposition to be too big to ignore.

Johnson worries that we’re on a slippery slope. The definition of “terrorist” is ripe for political manipulation and indefinitely detaining Americans is a big concern. “One day it’s Al Qaeda. The next day it’s you,” he says.

Events are 6 pm Monday, July 15, at North Bend Library and 6 pm Wednesday, July 17, at Springfield Public Library.

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