WASHINGTON — Floyd Mori, JACL’s national executive director, issued the following action alert to JACL members and supporters on Monday.
“Just over a week ago, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which in its current form will allow the military to place American citizens suspected of terrorism in indefinite detention without charge or trial.
“JACL is deeply concerned with the language of this bill because of our own experience with illegal indefinite detention during World War II. The United States has rightly condemned its decision to forcibly relocate and indefinitely detain individuals of Japanese descent, including American citizens, without due process, and efforts to redress this extraordinary wrongdoing continue to this day.
“Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), with the strong support of JACL leadership and chapters that made its enactment our priority, was the lead sponsor of the legislation that became the Non-Detention Act of 1971. We do not want to see the work of Sen. Inouye in leading the way towards the Non-Detention Act of 1971 — and our own work as an organization that worked for its enactment — rendered meaningless by NDAA provisions.
“Sections 1031 and 1032, the provisions that authorize indefinite detention, were drafted behind closed doors by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). These provisions will declare the entire country a war zone and allow the military to imprison American citizens based on nothing more than suspicion.
“Indefinite detention will not make us any safer from terrorism. Top security experts, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, CIA Director David Petraeus, White House Advisor for Counterterrorism John Brennan and Department of Justice National Security Division head Lisa Monaco, have all expressed their opposition.
“As of now, NDAA is in conference committee. The chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Forces Committees — including Sens. Levin and McCain — will decide on a final version of the bill. It is expected to go to the Senate and House floors for a final vote as early as this week. Supporters of the bill are determined to pass it quickly and quietly before Congress adjourns for winter recess.
“In times of war, fear can lead to the unnecessary sacrifice of our basic constitutional rights. President Obama has said that he will veto NDAA, but it should not come down to that. Members of Congress must be reminded not to repeat the past mistakes of internment.
“JACL requests your immediate action to prevent indefinite detention. If NDAA still contains the indefinite detention provision, we must tell Congress to vote NO on NDAA and tell President Obama to keep his word and veto this bill.
“To familiarize yourself with the issue further, you can find detailed information on the ACLU website, www.aclu.org.”