New National Defense Authorization Act Hurts America's Ability to Fight Terror


Certain information surely would create risks for our national security.

The National Defense Authorization Act was the risk the Obama administration and Congress undertook earlier this month. The defense bill places a military custody requirement on suspected terrorists. The bill has significant flexibility to transfer detainees between military and civilian custody. The bill also consists of a $700 billion hold on Pakistan aid, adds sanctions to Iran’s central bank, and strengthens ties with Georgia, the nation which two years ago was attacked by Russia.

But the most important aspect of the bill is its influence on terror detainees. This is not the change in policy we want in regards to suspected terrorists. The bill changes the way the U.S. combats terrorism domestically, and in a less effective way. 

First, trying suspected terrorist in civilian courts disables the results of terrorist investigations. Once word gets out that a member of a particular cell is to be put on trial, other cells can be notified and warned to dismantle themselves. Thus the civilian trial inadvertently adds another mask to sleeper cells, and can help them stay anonymous.  

Secondly, the custody requirement takes away from the military’s role in combating terrorism. The power to conduct the War on Terror seems to now have been shifted from the hands of military commanders and into hands of the civilian president. The role our military will play will be described as one that works side by side with civilian forces, especially with agencies like the FBI.

Third, the defense bill has an estimated $662 billion in military personnel, weapons systems, and funding for the war in Afghanistan. For the safety of America the money is being well-allocated but the bill funding fails to mention the additional military costs it will create for detaining and processing these terror suspects.

The ground-breaking step the bill takes in the War on Terror enables suspected terrorist trails in civilian courts, the taking on of more national security risks, shifting more power to the President, and using our military more domestically damaging federal agency efforts. The policy changes the way the U.S. combats terrorism domestically and in a less effective way. 

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