QUESTION: The 2012 NDAA bill and it's rejected ammendments.

question / pregunta: 

Why is there a need for the NDAA? What is the need to consider the world at large and more specifically the United States of America a battle ground? Why were the ammendments restricting said considerations to outside of the US rejected? Isn't congress sworn to uphold and protect the constitution, and wouldn't passage of this act be a clear act of it's (the constitution) destruction? If so, couldn't voting yay on this, and nay on the ammendments, be considered an act of treason?


A thoughful friend recently posted a few sites featuring analysis of the NDAA and Obama's signing statement that I thought might be worthwhile posting here.

This is a generally center-left bunch of resources, but will perhaps serve to balance more generally heard interpretations coming from both "right" and "left."

rhetorical questions?

I suspect this one may be languishing due to the sense one gets that the questions are posed rhetorically. Yet there are certainly information needs expressed. The answers might need to be broken down bit by bit. I would suggest:

Need for NDAA: routine act authorizing defense spending - what are the historical roots of the practice?

World and US as battleground: development of the "war on terror" rhetoric, compare/contrast principles of War Powers Act (for example) with practice of police actions of the Executive, PL 107-40, etc. - This would probably be the "meatiest" reference area.

Amendments to NDAA-2012: selective news item list with some annotation and relevant Gov. citations: Armed Service Committee page, etc.

Treason and the US Congress: information on Article III, section 3 of US Constitution for literal address of question.

I've been meaning to work on this using the above framework, but would more than welcome any help.

The 2012 NDAA bill and its rejected amendments.

If you are near a large academic library, especially at a public university which generally has to grant database access to everyone onsite (though often with a guest password), it's well worth checking a legal database such as Westlaw or LexisNexis Academic. In LexisNexis, you could select "US Legal" and search "Law Reviews", using proximity search such as: ndaa w/20 unconstitutional, which looks for the words in the text no more than 20 words apart (including vertically in the text). If you get hundreds of hits, you can narrow the proximity, say w/5, or if too few hits, try w/50 etc. You can change the default title list to "Expanded list", to see the search words in context - and they are hot-linked to the full text.

But if you have no ready access to these big libraries, it's well worth trying free government sites. In, the site search: ndaa unconstitutional gets 41 hits; ndaa constitutional gets 367; ndaa constitutionality gets 208. But I suspect their search engin is doing a bit of "word stemming" - these are often very long documents (hearings, etc) and using CTRL-F to find search words in the documents seems to get mixed results.

The Senate may have a better search engine. The site search: ndaa constitutional gets 137 hits, and it tells you that total; you don't need to scroll page to the end of the list as in the House search. also has a "Bill search" under its "Legislation and records" tab, that links you to the Library of Congress Thomas search. In its Advanced Search, Thomas will even let you limit to specific congresses, back to the 93rd (1973-1974), if you want to get some historical precedent in earlier hearings.

You can even get VERY early arguments on war/defense legislation from the Library of Congress' site American Memory, where its Government & Law topic includes A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875. You could spend quite a bit of time searching the many sections of that site.

Finally, it would be very wise to search for books on "constitutional law" and "war powers", etc. to get more general background on this. Once you find a book in Worldcat, if it's not in a nearby library (and you can enter location - City, ST or ZIP - to rank them by nearest to you), your local public library should be able to borrow it on Interlibrary loan.

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