NDAA sneakily steals rights

The National Defense Authorization Act For The Fiscal Year 2012 – don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t heard of it, because there isn’t a single major news network running a story on it, and those that have dropped its name have done so in the most sickeningly nonchalant manner possible. However, the implications of this bill are very real. They are blatantly unconstitutional. They are downright terrifying. Worst of all, they’re gaining momentum.

As the title of the bill implies, this is not the first NDAA bill ever proposed – on the contrary, there has been a similar bill put through Congress every year for the last forty-eight years. This is because the NDAA is typically nothing more than the budget for the Department of Defense in the coming fiscal year, with the occasional footnote about someone receiving the Medal of Honor, and the ever amusing “sense of Congress” passages (“It is the sense of Congress that we are at war with Al-Qaeda”) are brilliant stuff. But there’s something very different about this year’s bill.

The contents of this bill redefine the War on Terror as a completely global war – and yes, that includes United States soil. I bet you hadn’t even noticed you’d been living a war zone this entire time, had you? But according to this bill, your front lawn is just as much a part of the conflict as downtown Kabul. Why does this matter, you ask? What makes this anything more than a silly, semantic definition? Well, I’ll tell you why: because if your backyard is no better than Baghdad, it gives the United States Armed Forces leave to carry out police action within our borders and seize enemy combatants to be held indefinitely, without charge or trial. And if you didn’t know that your backyard was a battlefield, I’d bet my bottom dollar you had no idea that you too could be an enemy combatant. That’s right – United States citizens are not exempt.

Section 1031 of this bill gives the military the authority to apprehend anyone suspected of terrorist activity and hold them “until the end of hostilities” – a roundabout way of saying forever. Likewise, “suspected” is nothing more than a codeword for probable cause, which is itself little more than another way of saying “it’s pretty much entirely arbitrary.” Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky was quick to point out some of the more absurd activities which are considered to be suspicious, such as having more than seven days’ worth of food in your home. At least that keeps college students safe, I suppose. No one ever fed an underground terrorist cell on two packets of ramen noodles. All right, no more jokes.

“But never fear!” says the skeptic, “part of the bill says it doesn’t apply to Americans!” Don’t fall for it. Senators McCain and Levin, the comic book villains who authored this madness from their offices at the Legion of Doom, have thrown us a bone: indeed, there is a paragraph in section 1032 that states, “The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.” But the wording is intentionally misleading; it only states that indefinite detention is not unilaterally required for citizens suspected of terrorist activity. But paragraph four of the very same section says that indefinite may be allowed by the Secretary of Defense (or the President) at any time in the interest of “national security.” In a nutshell: indefinite detention is not required for United States citizens, but it can be “if we say so.”

I know the whole thing sounds crazy. I know it sounds like it could never pass. But as I mentioned earlier, it’s gaining momentum. The NDAA has already passed the Senate with a staggering vote of 93-7. Two possible amendments to the bill, which would have removed the harmful provisions, were proposed by Senators Udall and Feinstein, but both of them were shot down. Despite the clearly poisonous implications of this bill, it has passed the Senate largely unchanged. And my inner cynic tells me that the vote in the House will fare little better. President Obama has threatened a veto (and kudos to him for that), but I still have my doubts. This bill is, after all, over 900 pages worth of budget. If Obama wants to veto Sections 1031 and 1032, he’s going to have to veto the entire thing, which could cause a fair bit of grumbling from the Armed Forces.

This bill puts your constitutional rights on the chopping block.. Ninety-three of your Senators betrayed you this past week, and gambled away your basic freedoms in the name of “security.” Let them know that we will not stand for this. Send the emails, make the phone calls. Make your voice heard, and make them listen. Otherwise, say fare-thee-well to Amendments IV through VIII of the Bill of Rights – you won’t be needing them in Battlefield America.

21 thoughts on “NDAA sneakily steals rights

  1. This reminds me of a Ben Franklin quote.
    “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

  2. seems the martial law aspects wouldn’t hold up to a constitutional challenge in any case. also going to be pretty hard to convince g.i. johnny he’s got to round up uncle joe for buying too many groceries. obama does want to be “exhaulted ruler” pretty bad though. worth keeping an eye on.

    1. Brett Painter, please remember the court is stacked 5:4 against civil liberties. This decision will be maintained by them. Enjoy your police state, Guantanamo North.

    1. And, you are an idiot to think we believe our senseless words! This is the most heinous bill ever created in our nations history you moron… Wait, you’re not a moron – you’re the one percent…

      1. Your ignorant name calling without addressing any of the salient issues shows that you have no clue as to the truth of the issues. Thank God that Congress doesn’t govern exclusively from emotion.

  3. No Shawn. The article is right. If you listen to Lindsey Graham and John McCain defending this evisceration of the 6th Amendment, they say what the article says.
    They want to be able to put Americans away in military camps.

    If they say this, it makes it real. Why? Because courts reviewing the Constitutionality begin my looking at the plain wording of the law and then use legislative history if anything isn’t clear. This bill’s language isn’t clear, so the legislative history – especially the justifications of the proponents – Graham, McCain, Ayotte – will be crucial.

    Rand Paul got this one so right. His dad didn’t raise a complete dummy.

  4. Thanks for spreading this, it’s so very, very hard to do! I leave you this link to another article, it actually has the full PDF of the bill (before a minor amendment that is also addressed in the article).

    http://progressivetoo.com/2011/12/07/the-exact-wording-of-the-indefinite-detention-provision-of-the-national-defense-authorization-act/

    Here’s also a video about the House probably not going to try to veto it

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLiKvSz_wX8

    Watch till the end for some suggested actions!

    Protect your freedom!!

  5. I’ve posted this to everyone at CNN and MSNBC a few times, but they will not touch the most heinous Bill ever created by our congress in its entire history – WTF?!!!!

    1. To whoever compared me to Matt Taibbi, I am well and truly flattered.

      I hope all of you who feel as I feel about this incredibly dangerous bill do everything you can to get the word out. You may feel free to re-post my article wherever you please. Alternatively, you could just use the REAL Matt Taibbi’s…

      http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/indefinite-detention-of-american-citizens-coming-soon-to-battlefield-u-s-a-20111209

      Thanks, everyone. I appreciate all of your comments.

  6. Some people are claiming that this bill is only aimed at “traitors who join forces with the enemy,” and that it is completely consistent with existing law.

    If this was the case there wouldn’t be much debate. If an American goes to Afghanistan and joins the Taliban, he can be detained by military. But more is going on.

    When one uses a phrase like” traitors who join forces with the enemy” two images come to mind. Benedict Arnold type traitors who join the enemy during a land war in the US. Or John Walker Lynn type traitors who leave the US to join foreign forces. But this bill reaches beyond military involvement. If this act was limited to person who literally cooperation with enemy armies inside the US (like in Civil War), I wouldn’t care.

    But the people pushing the bill like Lindsey Graham don’t limit its scope to those fighting our troops in combat zones like Afghanistan or Iraq. Using an expansive “battlefield” concept, they would create an imaginary war inside our territory.

    By stretching the concept of battlefield beyond recognition, this bill turns nonmilitary acts into military acts. Someone like Jose Padilla wouldnt be tried in a federal court by a judge and jury, consistent with the 6th Amendment. Even someone away from any combat zone could be deprived of jury trial and detained indefintely in a military brig. Basically Jose Padilla becomes no different from John Walker Lynn.

    The proof of this is in 1031. Section 1031 reaches a “person who was a part of or substantially supported” but expressly says is not limited to “who has committed a belligerent act.” Substantial support in real cases has included acts well short of Benedict Arnold or John Walker Lynn type military cooperation.

    Who decides the threshold for substantial support? Not a judge or jury . . . but our armed forces. This bill would hand the decision to detain Americans who “substantially support” to military personnel who not only may not have gone to law school, but not even college. When someone joins the enemy like Benedict Arnold or John Walker Lynne, no “substantial support” determination is needed. The plain, easily viewed, undeniable fact they are with the enemy allows troops to determine their status.

    Not only are our troops not trained and prepared to make legal determinations, do we really want them doing so? I don’t think American troops bat an eye at detaining a John Walker Lynne who they catch with the enemy in Afghanistan. But will they feel comfortable arresting and detaining an American citizen residing in the US, who merely give speeches and write articles about the need for Muslims to resist American imperialism? I have already seen posts from soldiers saying they dont want to do this. That the police and the FBI should be doing this.

    Finally, your contention like Graham’s that the acts in question are already covered by existing law is misleading and disingenuous. Many of us believe the existing law in this area is wrongly decided and insufficiently protective of the Constitutional rights of Americans. So saying, we are already doing this begs a big question. Should we be?

    But the fact is, we aren’t already doing it. In his Senate remarks, Graham claims that this law is consistent with decisions in the Padilla case. This is dissembling. And Graham knows it.

    In Padilla, the Bush Administration grabbed Padilla and stuck him in a military brig, just two days before he would have been issued a warrant in federal court. They didn’t want the civilian courts to have him. They wrongly held him in military brigs for 3 and a half years, two years without counsel.

    Eventually, the Supreme Court ordered the Padilla moved to a jail in Miami. In ordering him released from the military brig they held, “without clear Congressional approval . . . President Bush cannot detain an American citizen arrested in the United States and away from a zone of combat as an ‘illegal enemy combatant.'” After Padilla was handed over the was tried and convicted.

    Padilla proves that the normal civil non-military justice system works with Americans citizens assisting terrorists. We don’t need new legislation. We don’t need to ignore the plain wording of the 6th Amendment and other law to deal with cases like his.

    But that isn’t good enough for Graham. The Supreme Court ordered Padilla turned over to civilian authority because the Bush Administration had not been given the authority by Congress to detain an American citizen arrested in the United States away from a zone of combat as an enemy combatant.
    This is precisely what Graham wants to do – to give Congressional authority for the President and the miliitary to to arrest American citizens away from a zone of combat.

    Think about it. If already existing law did the job just fine, why would Graham and others even propose 1031 and 1032? Just to have two laws that do the same thing? It is a basic principle of statutory construction that drafters do not write superfluous provisions. Let alone completely unneeded legislation.

    It is clear what Graham is after. People like Bush and Graham wanted to keep Padilla in the brig in . . . .South Carolina indefinitely. They wanted to interrogate him and use the torture or near torture techniques they used on him indefinitely. But they were told they couldn’t continue to hold him in the brig. Graham can’t stand that.

    So he is written a law, which gives Congressional authority for the military to toss American citizens who “substantially support” terrorists into the brig, despite the fact they aren’t near a real combat zone, under the imaginary ludicrous notion that the whole world is a combat zone.

    This isn’t just an effort to reverse the Supreme Court decision in Padilla, it gives the military the power to detain and “interrogate” American citizens who did much less than Padilla. Unlike Padilla, they would never get a jury trial in a civilian court. They could be held and tortured or near tortured indefinitely

    Padilla deserved the prison sentence he got. But as an American citizen who committed illegal acts away from a combat zone, he deserved a jury trial under the 6th Amendment.

    This bill takes away that Constitutional right.

  7. One last thing. I have a little petition here that I would all of you to sign if you agree with my concerns over the NDAA. This is a petition to President Obama to veto the bill. Please sign and pass along.

    http://wh.gov/jeY

    1. Nearly half way to 25,000… But a Bill like this one… it should be hitting 10x the expected target if it has any hope of sending the required message.

      While a aparatchik internee monitors for any numbers exceeding the percentile calculated “safe”, they wlll whoop and holler at any results just meeting or beating officially required numbers.

      “It’s A Trap!”
      Because this duly respectful protest is not just unsuccessful but a real FAIL, Reassured, they have hard data to embolden and spur them into action. The message? There’s slack out there to allow extra ratcheting with bigger power-grabbing Laws. It’s all bench-marking data for them. We hand the enemy our own battlefield moral assessments, in effect. Just like Banksters use our own Credit Card activity data to refine models targeting wherever we seem to show financial “weakness”.

      Once a Law goes on the books, it almost NEVER gets taken of. I think the UK managed to finally repeal a Dark Ages Law banning Witches only about 10 years ago.. Pubs had hugely inconvenient drinking laws aimed at WWI factory workers repealed about 70 years after the Armistice.

      These petitions… man. Giving them info like this is a double-edged sword. It looks like Democracy but they must be hugging themselves and smirking with mirth at how hard we work to feed them vital Intel.

      Do these petitions ever work? Yea, or nay, THEY decide.

    1. That’s it ! He finally, recently lost Cenk Uyger’s support by 99% (Young Turks)

      I’m going the extra 1%. My tag for Obama from now on is “Shaft”. For every right reason and for some that aren’t.

      Or “President Shaft” if it’s a public holiday or State Occasion..

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