Indefinite Detention Gross Violation of Civil Rights

Bob Marx
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Bob Marx

REPORT FROM THE BOB MARX FOR CONGRESS CAMPAIGN – Bob Marx, Hilo lawyer and candidate for Hawaiʻi’s Second Congressional District, spoke out on Monday against provisions of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA allows the President to indefinitely detain individuals suspected of aiding or being involved with terrorists.

The act would also allow the President to detain those who have committed a “belligerent act” against the country, in addition to those merely suspected of terrorism. Under the new bill, detainees would not have a right to trial; in addition, the bill requires those detained to be held in US Military custody. Several groups have spoken out against the bill, including the ACLU, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and The Center for Constitutional Rights.


Marx voiced his opposition to the bill, remarking, “[The bill] subjects Americans to treatment grossly inconsistent with the protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.” When asked about the effectiveness of the bill in combating terrorism, Marx responded: “Even if the bill manages to combat terrorism—which is unlikely—the bill gives the president power to suspend the right to Habeas Corpus for those who are not enemy combatants…if one American is wrongfully detained for any period of time without trial, our government has failed to protect our civil rights.”

The bill is especially controversial because it allows for the indefinite detention of individuals not directly involved in hostilities. International law currently recognizes indefinite detention for prisoners of war and enemy combatants, but the NDAA would set a precedent for suspending the rights of civilians merely suspected of aiding terrorists. In the future, such a precedent could be used to justify further overreach of government authority, such as targeted killings of American citizens without trial.

Marx noted that if elected, he would “vote against any bill that suspends the civil rights of American citizens. The American government has an obligation to the people, and any bill that interferes with civil rights and liberties is in opposition to our freedom.”

The Second Congressional District encompasses most of rural Oʻahu and all the neighbor islands. Mr. Marx, a Hilo attorney and long-time community activist, is running against Oʻahu residents Mufi Hannemann, Tulsi Gabbard, and Esther Kia‘aina for the open seat. Marx lives in the district and is the only candidate in the race from a county other than Honolulu.