Naomi Wolf / Naomi Wolf.org & Joe Wolverton II / The New American – 2012-01-03 01:04:08
NDAA: Congress Is Signing Its Own Arrest Warrants
Naomi Wolf / Naomi Wolf.org
WASHINGTON (January 2, 2012) — I never thought I would have to write this: but — incredibly — Congress has now passed the National Defense Appropriations Act, with Amendment 1031, which allows for the military detention of American citizens. The amendment is so loosely worded that any American citizen could be held without due process.
The language of this bill can be read to assure Americans that they can challenge their detention — but most people do not realize what this means: at Guantanamo and in other military prisons, one’s lawyer’s calls are monitored, witnesses for one’s defense are not allowed to testify, and one can be forced into nudity and isolation. Incredibly, 93 Senators voted to support this bill and now most of Congress: a roster of names that will live in infamy in the history of our nation, and never be expunged from the dark column of the history books.
They may have supported this bill because — although it’s hard to believe — they think the military will only arrest active members of Al Qaida; or maybe, less naively, they believe that ‘at most’, low-level dissenting figures, activists, or troublesome protesters might be subjected to military arrest. But they are forgetting something critical: history shows that those who signed this bill will soon be subject to arrest themselves.
Our leaders appear to be supporting this bill thinking that they will always be what they are now, in the fading light of a once-great democracy — those civilian leaders who safely and securely sit in freedom and DIRECT the military. In inhabiting this bubble, which their own actions are about to destroy, they are cocooned by an arrogance of power, placing their own security in jeopardy by their own hands, and ignoring history and its inevitable laws.
The moment this bill becomes law, though Congress is accustomed, in a weak democracy, to being the ones who direct and control the military, the power roles will reverse: Congress will no longer be directing and in charge of the military: rather, the military will be directing and in charge of individual Congressional leaders, as well as in charge of everyone else — as any Parliamentarian in any society who handed this power over to the military can attest.
Perhaps Congress assumes that it will always only be ‘they’ who are targeted for arrest and military detention: but sadly, Parliamentary leaders are the first to face pressure, threats, arrest and even violence when the military obtains to power to make civilian arrests and hold civilians in military facilities without due process. There is no exception to this rule.
Just as I traveled the country four years ago warning against the introduction of torture and secret prisons — and confidently offering a hundred thousand dollar reward to anyone who could name a nation that allowed torture of the ‘other’ that did not eventually turn this abuse on its own citizens — (confident because I knew there was no such place) — so today I warn that one cannot name a nation that gave the military the power to make civilian arrests and hold citizens in military detention, that did not almost at once turn that power almost against members of that nation’s own political ruling class.
This makes sense — the obverse sense of a democracy, in which power protects you; political power endangers you in a militarized police state: the more powerful a political leader is, the more can be gained in a militarized police state by pressuring, threatening or even arresting him or her.
Mussolini, who created the modern template for fascism, was a duly elected official when he started to direct paramilitary forces against Italian citizens: yes, he sent the Blackshirts to beat up journalists, editors, and union leaders; but where did these militarized groups appear most dramatically and terrifyingly, snapping at last the fragile hold of Italian democracy?
In the halls of the Italian Parliament. Whom did they physically attack and intimidate? Mussolini’s former colleagues in Parliament — as they sat, just as our Congress is doing, peacefully deliberating and debating the laws.
Whom did Hitler’s Brownshirts arrest in the first wave of mass arrests in 1933? Yes, journalists, union leaders and editors; but they also targeted local and regional political leaders and dragged them off to secret prisons and to torture that the rest of society had turned a blind eye to when it had been directed at the ‘other.’
Who was most at risk from assassination or arrest and torture, after show trials, in Stalin’s Russia? Yes, journalists, editors and dissidents: but also physically endangered, and often arrested by militarized police and tortured or worse, were senior members of the Politburo who had fallen out of favor.
Is this intimidation and arrest by the military a vestige of the past? Hardly. We forget in America that all over the world there are militarized societies in which shells of democracy are propped up — in which Parliament meets regularly and elections are held, but the generals are really in charge, just as the Egyptian military is proposing with upcoming elections and the Constitution itself.
That is exactly what will take place if Congress gives the power of arrest and detention to the military: and in those societies if a given political leader does not please the generals, he or she is in physical danger or subjected to military arrest.
Whom did John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
National Defense Appropriations Act
Indefinite military detention for U.S. citizens now in the hands of a secretive conference committee
December 8, 2011 — by Donny Shaw
Ron Paul Calls National Defense Authorization Act “Slip Into Tyranny”
Joe Wolverton, II / The New American
(December 30, 2011) — ‘A dictator enjoys unrestrained power over the people. The legislative and judicial branches voluntarily cede this power or it’s taken by force. Most of the time, it’s given up easily, out of fear in time of war and civil disturbances, and with support from the people, although the dictator will also accumulate more power with the use of force.’
Those prescient words of Republican presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) are taken from his book Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom. The tyrannical assumption of power by the President and the cession of unheralded power to him by the Congress has taken place precisely as Dr. Paul warned.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an unprecedented, unconstitutional, and unchecked grant of dictatorial power to the President in the name of protecting the security of ‘the homeland.’ Ron Paul described the bill (soon to be signed into law by the President) as a ‘slip into tyranny,’ one that will almost certainly accelerate ‘our descent into totalitarianism.’
What of the NDAA? Are there indeed provisions contained therein that so ferociously tear at the constitutional fabric of our Republic?
In a word — yes.
This liberty-extinguishing legislation converts America into a war zone and turns Americans into potential suspected terrorists, complete with the full roster of rights typically afforded to terrorists — none.
A key component of this reconciled bill mandates a frightening grant of immense and unconstitutional power to the executive branch. Under the provisions of Section 1021, the President is afforded the absolute power to arrest and detain citizens of the United States without their being informed of any criminal charges, without a trial on the merits of those charges, and without a scintilla of the due process safeguards protected by the Constitution of the United States.
Further, in order to execute the provisions of Section 1021 described in the previous paragraph, subsequent clauses (Section 1022, for example) unlawfully give the President the absolute and unquestionable authority to deploy the armed forces of the United States to apprehend and to indefinitely detain those suspected of threatening the security of the ‘homeland.’ In the language of this legislation, these people are called ‘covered persons.’
The universe of potential ‘covered persons’ includes every citizen of the United States of America. Any American could one day find himself or herself branded a ‘belligerent’ and thus subject to the complete confiscation of his or her constitutional civil liberties and nearly never-ending incarceration in a military prison.
In his assessment of the danger inherent in such acts, Paul is in good company. This suspension of habeas corpus, a right central to Anglo-American freedom from despotism for over 500 years, was described by Alexander Hamilton as one of ‘the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny.’
Congressman Paul eloquently expressed his assessment of such an assault on liberty:
The president’s widely expanded view of his own authority to detain Americans indefinitely even on American soil is for the first time in this legislation codified in law. That should chill all of us to our cores.
As reported by The Hill, in a phone message to supporters, Paul cited the Founders and their intent to bequeath to their descendants a government fettered in such a way as to threaten as little as possible man’s innate freedom:
The founders wanted to set a high bar for the government to overcome in order to deprive an individual of life or liberty. To lower that bar is to endanger everyone. When the bar is low enough to include political enemies, our descent into totalitarianism is virtually assured.
The Patriot Act, as bad as its violation against the Fourth Amendment was, was just one step down the slippery slope. The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act continues that slip into tyranny, and in fact, accelerates it significantly.
Adding insult to injury, Congress has stuffed the bill full of funding for illegal and unconstitutional foreign wars so that the American people will pay over $670 billion dollars for the privilege of being deprived of their God-given rights and for the building of the American empire.
This appalling story doesn’t end there, however. The NDAA’s rap sheet of crimes against the Constitution is long. As Congressman Paul explained:
The Fifth Amendment is about much more than the right to remain silent in the face of government questioning. It contains very basic and very critical stipulations about the due process of law. The government cannot imprison a person for no reason and with no evidence presented and without access to legal counsel. The danger of the NDAA is its alarmingly vague, undefined criteria for who can be indefinitely detained by the U.S. government without trial.
While all the foregoing is harrowing and enough to make any reasonable man fear for the future of this Republic, there is another aspect of the law that is perhaps more frightening still. That is the vagueness of the terms. Terms so ill-defined are ripe for the wresting and within the penumbras of these provisions could be found lurking the tools of tyranny. Wrenches that could force anyone into a predetermined ‘terrorist’ hole.
Ron Paul sets forth the source of such chilling concern as contained in the NDAA:
It is no longer limited to members of al Qaeda or the Taliban, but anyone accused of substantially supporting such groups or associated forces. How closely associated, and what constitutes substantial support? What if it was discovered that someone who committed a terrorist act was once involved with a charity? Or suppose a political candidate? Are all donors of that candidate or supporters of that candidate now suspects and subject to indefinite detainment? Is that charity now an associated force?
Despite the bipartisan and bicameral support for the defense budget bill, President Obama originally vowed to veto the measure over his disagreement with the delegation of power over the cases of detainees.
He has since withdrawn his objection and has signaled his intent to sign the bill into law.
The crux of the White House’s opposition to the NDAA was President Obama’s desire that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) should have plenary power over the disposition of issues related to the custody and prosecution of all terror suspects detained domestically.
The Obama administration insisted that cutting out the FBI would reduce the overall effectiveness of investigations, as well as hamstring the efforts of intelligence officers from gathering reliable intelligence from those believed to be fighting against the United States in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Specifically, the White House promised to veto the legislation if it ‘challenges or constrains the President’s critical authorities to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, [or] protect the nation.’
Such swords disguised as shields are reminiscent of the words of James Madison. The Father of the Constitution warned, ‘The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become instruments of tyranny at home.’
Again, Ron Paul finds himself in the company of the Founders. In his closing remarks, Congressman Paul cited very succinctly the indictment that should be handed down by the American people against the NDAA:
The Bill of Rights has no exceptions for really bad people or terrorists or even non-citizens. It is a key check on government power against any person. That is not a weakness in our legal system; it is the very strength of our legal system.
The NDAA attempts to justify abridging the Bill of Rights on the theory that rights are suspended in a time of war, and the entire United States is a battlefield in the war on terror. This is a very dangerous development, indeed.
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