Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bill of Rights eviscerated on their anniversary

On December 15, 1791 - 220 years ago, today - the Bill of Rights were officially ratified and added to the Constitution.

How sad it is that on this day of all days, President Obama signed the 2012 version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes Section 1031. This section gives the President the option of ordering the military to indefinitely detain American citizens without charges, evidence, or trial if the citizen is suspected of terrorist activity. Of course, if you have ever read the PATRIOT Act, "terrorist activity" is pretty much whatever the government wants it to be.

There are plenty of people who continue to insist that people like me are confused, and that Section 1031 of the NDAA does not apply to American citizens. The Hill, for instance reports that,
In both cases, the bill does not create any new authority to detain U.S. citizens, ensuring their rights to a fair trial, and the military detention language does exempts U.S. citizens.
Of course, that assurance leaves me with little comfort when all one has to do is listen to the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), insist that the power to detain American citizens does indeed exist because after all, it was President Obama who insisted that that power be included in the bill. Don't take my word for it. Watch this:

In addition to Senator Levin's candid assertions, there also exists a letter, signed by 40 members of Congress - many of whom I usually disagree on many other issues - that was sent to the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. In the letter, the signatories express their concerns about the application of NDAA Section 1031, stating:
...[T]he Senate-passed version of the NDAA, S. 1867, contains Section 1031, which authorizes indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists without protecting U.S. Citizens' right to trial. We are deeply concerned that this provision could undermine the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth amendment rights of U.S. Citizens who might be subjects of detention or prosecution by the military.
I know that many people will scoff at these events and say that we average American citizens have nothing to worry about; that this law is only meant to snag American citizens of middle-eastern background who are actively engaging in planned terrorist attacks against the United States on our own soil. The problem with this myopic view is that anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear and a brain to think knows that inevitably, the power of government grows over time, and what was once unthinkable in our society eventually becomes commonplace, especially if the government is given what appears at first to be some innocuous tool meant for a specific purpose that they eventually use as a broad brush.

Don't forget that just yesterday, Obama stated without ambiguity or secrecy that if Congress didn't do what he wants done, he is just going to bypass them and do it anyway, saying
"Well, what we're going to have to do is continue to make progress on the economy over the next several months. And where Congress is not willing to act, we're going to go ahead and do it ourselves. But it would be nice if we could get a little bit of help from Capitol Hill."
With that kind of unconstitutional attitude, do you really want to put into Obama's hands, the kind of power that Section 1031 of the NDAA affords? Really?

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson


Darren said...

Happy Boston Tea Party Day!

W.R. Chandler said...

Damn straight!