Laurens County, South Carolina, passed a resolution this week urging the state to reject the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)’s indefinite detention provisions, making the county the eight local government in the country to resist the language, which was initially passed in the 2012 version of the military funding bill.
According to a press release from People Against the NDAA (PANDA), which has long campaigned against indefinite detention, “Resolution 2018-31 provides inhabitants of Laurens County their first legal defense against indefinite detentions since passage of the 2012 NDAA.”
PANDA’s founder, Dan Johnson, spoke to the council on behalf of the resolution, asserting it is not only the county’s right but its responsibility to push back against the still-controversial legislation. “These are fundamental rights, and you has a county council have the duty to defend and protect the Constitution,” he said at a hearing at the end of June while advocating the resolution, which passed on Tuesday.
The resolution states that Laurens County believes it to be “improper, unlawful, and therefore unconstitutional to”:
“…it is unconstitutional, and therefore unlawful for any person to:
“a. Arrest or capture any person in Laurens County with the intent of ‘detention under the law of war,’ or
“b. Actually subject a person in Laurens County to ‘disposition under the law of war,,’ or
“c. Subject any person to targeted killing in Laurens County …”
According to Councilman Stewart Jones, who sponsored PANDA’s resolution:
“When due process is ignored, it means that the government doesn’t have to prove anything. They simply have to accuse someone of a crime and secretly send them off to a prison or assassinate them. This goes against the very fibers of a civil and free society. We should never trade liberty for security, and we don’t have to!”
Laurens County joins towns in states like Idaho, Massachusetts, and New York in rejecting the indefinite detention clauses codified in Sections 1021 and 1022 of the 2012 NDAA. The most recent version of Congress’ annual NDAA continues the policy, though the Bush administration had previously asserted its right to engage in similar treatment of American citizens before the 2012 NDAA.
PANDA notes that while some states previously attempted to nullify the legislation, including California, Alaska, and Virginia, the “Restoring Constitutional Governance Act/Resolution prohibits any person, local, state, federal, or international, from utilizing the powers of the ‘law of war’ under the 2012 NDAA or any similar law or authority, in any city, county, or state.”
Jason Casella, PANDA’s National Director, told Anti-Media that state bills like those passed in California, Alaska, and Virginia left room for indefinite detention to be carried out. Other bills that worked their way through state legislatures but eventually died before passage also failed to adequately nullify NDAA.
In contrast, he said, the Laurens County resolution is clear. “There are several terms that are completely undefined in the NDAA leaving it broad and open for interpretation,” he said. “Basically what they passed in California and Virginia left plenty of loopholes that an attorney can drive a truck through. Our legislation is iron clad.” Casella clarified that the Laurens County resolution protects American citizens both domestically and abroad.