By Benjamin Wittes & Robert Chesney
The volume of sheer, unadulterated nonsense zipping around the internet about the NDAA boggles the mind. There was a time–only a few months ago–when the NDAA detention provisions were the obscure province of a small group of national security law nerds. Now, however, this bill has rocketed to international notoriety. The added attention to it is a good thing. It’s an important subject and warrants genuine debate and discussion. The trouble is that much of the discussion is the intellectual equivalent of the “death panel” objections to the health care bill. While certain journalists have done a good job covering the controversy, it’s much easier to get bad information than good. The reader who wants answers to simple questions faces a confusing array of conflicting information.
Here then, as a public service, is an NDAA FAQ–a simple attempt to lay out the key questions people are asking about the NDAA and answer them as simply and neutrally as we can. Many of the answers here we have discussed in greater depth elsewhere on the blog. We will link to those posts for readers who want greater depth. This is an overview, a Guide for the Perplexed.