The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a federal law specifying the budget and expenditures of the United States Department of Defense. Each year's act also includes other provisions, some related to civil liberties.
The FY13 NDAA includes the Shaheen Amendment, a provision that gives servicewomen and military dependents who are survivors of rape and incest the same abortion coverage provided to other women enrolled in federal health care. Previously, servicewomen and members of military families seeking an abortion following rape or incest were singled out and denied insurance coverage.
The NDAA also includes provisions that have implications for civil liberties. First, it jeopardizes President Obama's ability to meet his promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Second, the law contains a troubling provision compelling the military to accommodate the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of all members of the armed forces without accounting for the effect an accommodation would have.
Click here for more on the ACLU’s position on these provisions >>
In December 2011, President Obama signed the 2012 NDAA, codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA's dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield. The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.
Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress now assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again. The ACLU believes that any military detention of American citizens or others within the United States is unconstitutional and illegal, including under the NDAA. In addition, the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war.