For most Americans, the debate over the indefinite detention provisions included in the National Defense Authorization Act plays out primarily as an academic exercise. The average Joe walking down Main Street U.S.A. simply doesn’t worry about armed government thugs snatching him up, throwing him in the back of a van and hauling him off to some camp somewhere.
But one Washington State senator plunged into the NDAA fray with much more than academic, political or rhetorical interest. For Senator Bob Hasegawa, indefinite detention without due process is personal.
His family lived it.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. It authorized the secretary of war and the U.S. Army to create military zones “from which any or all persons may be excluded.” As a result, Hasegawa’s parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, along with their entire community, spent three years living in barrack shacks behind barbed wire and armed guards at Minidoka Internment Camp in southern Idaho, not knowing if or when they would get out.
“While they were constructing the camp, my family lived in horse stalls in the stables at the Puyallup Fairgrounds,” he said. “They were all U.S. citizens.”