Americans at Risk from Anti-Terrorism Law
by ALAN CARUBA
December 13, 2012
While Americans were going about their lives Wednesday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives voted for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), said to provide the government with great means to fight terrorism.
One of its provisions would permit government law enforcement authorities to detain terror suspects without trial and thus eviscerate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution that protect citizens "against unreasonable searches and seizures" and to ensure that "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a grand jury..." with some exceptions.
On December 14th, Politico.com reported that "the measure split Democrats right down the middle, with 93 voting in favor and 93 against legislation that President Barack Obama tactily endorsed earlier in the day be retreating from a veto threat." Civil liberties and human rights groups "were in a furor Wednesday night over Obama's decision to drop his veto threat following changes made to the detainee-related sections of the bill."
Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch said, "By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in U.S. law."
In Michigan, its House of Representatives unanimously voted to oppose NDAA 107-0. Its bill asserts that no state employee or agency would assist the federal government-in any way-in the detainment of people under the 2012 NDAA. The Obama administration has reportedly aggressively argued in court that the executive branch has this power. It does not. NDAA not only is unconstitutional, it poses the greatest threat to individual freedom every proposed by the government.
A law suit was instituted in March against NDAA and it was initiated by leading members of the nation's left. They include Michael Moore, Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, Noam Chromski, Naomi Wolf, and Cornell West. The suit was brought against President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, House Speakers, and Department of Defense representatives for "injunctive relief barring the implementation of the National Defense Authorization Act's ‘homeland battlefield' provisions for indefinite detention and suspension of Habeus Corpus.
Chris Hedges, a New York Times reporter, said at the time that "I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists. But does not make me one," warning that "if there is no rolling back of the NDAA law we cease to be a constitutional democracy. Totalitarian systems always begin by rewriting the law. They make legal what was once illegal."
"Crimes become patriotic acts," warned Hedges. "The defense of freedom and truth becomes a crime. Foreign and domestic subjugation merges into the same brutal mechanism. Citizens are colonized. And it is always done in the name of national security. We obey the new laws as we obeyed the old laws, as if there was no difference. And we spend our energy and our lives appealing to a dead system."
The lead attorney, Carl Mayer, said, "The Homeland Battlefield Law is as Orwellian as its name implies. America is not a ‘battlefield'; it is a democratic republic. This law is unconstitutional because it violates the free speech and due process rights of American citizens."
The issue of lost rights and protections is beginning to manifest itself in the public forum. In a column published in the Washington Post in January, JonathanTurley, the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University, identified the many ways the civil liberties we take for granted have been rolled back in the wake of 9/11. They include the assertion under both President Bush and Obama to assassinate any citizen deemed a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism. Both assert indefinite detention and the president may now order warrantless searches, the use of secret evidence, and secret courts, as well as immunity from judicial review. This is not just unconstitutional, it is totalitarianism in bold letters.
A former member of the National Security Agency, William Binney, recently warned that all Americans are under virtual surveillance. Binney said that "the FBI can access the emails of virtually everybody in the nation." The former director of the CIA, Gen. David Patreaus, discovered that to his dismay.
On May 16th, an Obama-appointed judge, Katherine B. Forrest, blocked the section of last year's NDAA that purported to ‘reaffirm' the 2001 authorization to use military force against al Qaeda. The judge agreed with the plaintiffs that the relevant section of the law was "not merely an ‘affirmation." Judge Forrest pointed out that a variety of other statutes permit the detention of those engaged in terrorism or its support.
The wording of the law passed by the House reinstates the provision to detain anyone the federal government deems a terrorist threat for any reason, including as Hedges pointed out, having dinner with a suspected terrorist.
Does it come as any surprise that, on December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the NDAA, codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trail into law for the first time in American history?
Sad to say, the Bush administration asserted similar claims of worldwide detention authority to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody. The ACLU, a liberal organization, is on record saying that "any military detention of American citizens or others within the United States is unconstitutional and illegal, including under the NDAA" adding that "the breadth of the NDAA's detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war."
When those on the far left line up against such a law, you have to know it is noxious, unconstitutional, and a threat to the life and liberty of every American. It is nothing less than a form of Nazism.
© Alan Caruba, 2012