A friend brought this latest assault on American liberty, and what used to be our taken for granted constitutional protections, to my attention this morning (Monday, 11/28/11). We've been treated recently to the killing of American citizens in Yemen, without constitutionally guaranteed due process of charge and trial, by the Obama administration --a real shock for sure to those who thought that the violation of the rule of law would not come home to Americans in a major way. But like Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens said:
"But it was impossible to save the Great Republic. She was rotten to the heart. Lust of conquest had long ago done its work; trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home; multitudes who had applauded the crushing of other people's liberties, lived to suffer for their mistake in their own persons. The government was irrevocably in the hands of the prodigiously rich and their hangers-on; the suffrage was become a mere machine, which they used as they chose. There was no principle but commercialism, no patriotism but of the pocket."
Glenn Greenwald mentioned today on Democracy Now! that:
If you look back at what the Congress did in the wake of 9/11 when it enacted the authorization to use military force, if you look at that authorization, it’s incredibly narrow, as it turns out. If you go and actually read it, it says the President is authorized to use military force against those who perpetrated the 9/11 attack and those countries who harbored those individuals. That’s it, that’s the only authorized use of military force. Well, here we are more than a decade later, and there was an article in The Washington Post from a week ago where U.S. officials anonymously are saying that, in essence, Al Qaeda, the group that perpetrated the 9/11 attack according to the government, is now dead. There’s only two leaders left they say in that entire region. It [is] already rendered "effectively inoperable". There is no more Al Qaeda left in Afghanistan or Pakistan according to the U.S. government. The group that perpetrated 9/11, according to it is no longer even existing. And yet, here we are engaged in extraordinarily broad military efforts, constantly escalating in numerous parts of the world. There’s six different countries in which the U.S. is actively using drones; in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, against groups that didn’t even exist at the time that 9/11 was perpetrated. And constantly, what you find is we are killing all sorts of civilians.
Now we have S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill. Pertinent section HERE.
Congress, with its all-time low approval ratings, is arguably the most despised political institution America, and now the Senate is considering a bill that allows the military to arrest you and send you "to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime." See link to read the ACLU's objections and to lodge your protest to Senators. Senators John Mc Cain and Carl Levin are said to have produced this proposed legislation in secret. The House apparently passed similar legislation back in May.
The Senate voted 61-to-37 on Tuesday, 11/29, to defeat Sen. Mark Udall's amendment to delete the indefinite detention provisions.
Here is the primary objectionable section (1031):
(b) COVERED PERSONS.—A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
Here is my synopsis of the interview of the ACLUs Christopher Anders by Scott Horton on AntiWar Radio:
The current version of the legislation would allow the indefinite detention of American citizens without charge or trial. "It doesn't require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It doesn't require any trial."
The 5th Amendment provides protection against the deprivation of life or liberty without due process of law. However, the detainee could begin to rot in jail while the courts decide that issue.
According to Anders, Habeas Corpus (Article 1, section 9) at a minimum provides a right to have a court decide whether the detention of an American citizen is lawful or not. Habeas Corpus does not provide a right to not be detained except as decided by the court--so you have a right to have a court decide whether your detainment is lawful as you sit in jail for perhaps years (as was the case with Jose Padilla).
The old 1878 Posse Comitatus act says basically that the military can't be used to enforce laws in the United States, but because it is a statute and not a Constitutional amendment, it can be changed by Congress, as by the bill before the Senate.
As in the Patriot Act, powers can lead to over reach or mistakes. After 9/11 there were some 1200 people who were held and never charged with a terrorism offense. Under the current pending legislation a citizen could be detained "for the rest of their lives without ever seeing a court room." The definition in Section 1031 "is so broad that it includes support for people involved in terrorism. So it doesn't mean that you've ever picked up a gun, it doesn't mean that you're fighting anybody anywhere, it can mean writing a check to someone who you think is a charity. . . ."
With this bill you can be detained on suspicion alone.
Listen as "Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel in the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, discusses his article [linked also above]: Senators Demand the Military Lock Up American Citizens in a ‘Battlefield’ They Define as Being Right Outside Your Window" on AntiWar Radio.
President Obama, who has no problem with killing American citizens abroad, including children, without due process, is reported to have "threatened" to veto it, but then he promises a lot of things.
Another article states:
If passed in its present form, the bill would give the President the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world.“ [Hey, aren't they already doing that in other lands?] The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself,” Anders warned. Anders also noted that presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) voiced his concerns about the detention provisions in the legislation in a Republican candidates' debate. Ironically, President Obama, who has frequently been criticized by libertarians of both the left and right for exceeding his powers as Commander-in-Chief, is opposed to the legislation and has threatened to veto it if it passes both houses of Congress. Both the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General of the United States have called the indefinite detention provisions of the bill harmful and counterproductive. But Senator Lindsey Graham has praised those same provisions for saying “for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and that people can be arrested without charge or trial, “American citizen or not.” Freshman Senator Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, declared that the provisions are necessary because “America is part of the battlefield.”
Congressman Ron Paul:
“I have a personal belief that you never have to give up liberty for security. You can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights,” responded Rep. Paul. “You can prevent crimes by becoming a police state . . . So if you advocate the police state, yes, you can have safety and security and you might prevent a crime, but the crime then will be against the American people and against our freedoms.”
Congressman Ron Paul
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has offered an amendment to delete the indefinite detention provisions and “[set] up an orderly review of detention power,” Anders said. “It tries to take the politics out and put American values back in.” The provisions raise a great many political, sociological, and constitutional questions, including whether all of the “homeland,” formerly known as “the land of the free,” should be designated a battlefield and whether people arrested anywhere in the world, including here in the United States, should be considered “enemy combatants” even if they were captured nowhere near a scene of actual battle."
Battlefield America: U.S. Citizens Face Indefinite Military Detention in Defense Bill Before Senate
Senate wants to turn USA into battlefield, internment for Americans
S. Floyd Mori: Internment specter raises ugly head in forgetful U.S. Senate
Senators Demand Military Lock Up Americans in “Battlefield” Defined as Outside Your Window
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