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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Welcome, Police State!

A frightening bill is now being debated in the Senate.  Quoting this article:  
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Defense Authorization Act will allow the U.S. military to declare national territory part of the "battlefield" in the “War on Terror.”

Authored by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the act would “permit the federal government to indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil, without charge or trial, at the discretion of the President...”
Fortunately, Senator Rand Paul has been a front line opponent of the bill.  From The Hill:
Republican Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and John McCain (Ariz.) battled on the Senate floor Tuesday over a proposed amendment to the pending defense authorization bill that could allow American citizens who are suspected of terrorism to be denied a civilian trial. 
The video of the debate and a transcript of Paul's remarks can be found here. The text of the bill can be found here

Note this particularly misleading passage in the bill Section 1032 (4) (b):  
APPLICABILITY TO UNITED STATES CITIZENS AND LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS.— (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS.—The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
Therefore, under this provision, the government is simply not "required" to detain a US citizen under the law. But you can be detained.  In other words, it does not say that US citizens can not be detained indefinitely and held in a military prison without due process, only that it is not a "requirement" that they be detained (as opposed to a non-US citizen who would have to be detained).  As you can observe in the linked video above, when Senator Paul asked Senator McCain the direct question of whether American citizens could be held indefinitely without due process, McCain, without answering directly, essentially says "yes." 

As I stated before in my ongoing attempt to chronicle attempts to usurp individual rights, rather than directly identifying and proving these direct threats to the United States and confronting them:

[T]he United States is constructing a vast police state, an "alternative geography", to monitor and control the flow of ideas within our own borders. At what point will any criticism of the government be regarded as "hate speech" or a potential "terrorist" threat which provokes government investigations and censorship?
While the threat to Americans from terrorism may be real, I agree with Paul when he says:
“Should we err today and remove some of the most important checks on state power in the name of fighting terrorism, well then the terrorists have won,"...[D]etaining American citizens without a court trial is not American."
Uh, yeah!!!!


J Motes said...

A few blogs reprinted some of the text of the bill, and I noted that it is generously sprinkled with references to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, etc. Perhaps McCain imagines that this bill will only be applied to true terrorists who have jihadist objectives. I guess his own intentions and expectations were all that he had in mind when he and Lindsey Graham dismantled parts of the Geneva Conventions, which eventually lead to wooly caterpillars being denounced as implements of torture.

Too many of our government betters (e.g., Janet Napolitano, Harry Reid) have been quick to define the Tea Party as terrorists. James Wesley Rawles at survivalblog.com (http://tinyurl.com/5wzs84t) warns us that "Incredibly, in the United States of America today belief in our founding legal principles is now grounds for being labeled a domestic terrorism. Imagine how they would respond to some of the known statements of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry or George Mason concerning the issue of individual liberty and limited government." Do read that entire post, as it is a frightening peek into the ideas Homeland Security is inculcating into American law enforcement training. The list of characteristics that identify domestic terrorists is shocking (I fit into the list: me, little old lady me).

If we know anything about politicians and the slippery slope, then we know that laws initially aimed at a specific group will eventually be used against everybody. Any restrictions, definitions, and policies will eventually be stretched to extend far beyond the original intent (assuming the original intent is merely misguided, not actually malign).

I find it most odd that McCain fought so hard during the Bush administration to overturn laws that did not grant American legal protections to enemy combatants, yet he now wants to overturn laws that guarantee American legal protections to Americans on our own soil. Whose side is he on?

The Rat Cap said...

J Motes,

Thanks for you thoughtful comment.

I agree that the government is attempting to use the "terrorist" label as a justification for violating rights. At first, they will point to Islamic terrorists and claim that this effort is limited in scope. But once the precedent is set, anyone, including a Tea Party activist who opposes government intervention or who supports limited government, can be labeled a "terrorist" and incarcerated indefinitely BY THE MILITARY WITHOUT ACCESS TO A LAWYER AND WITHOUT A TRIAL.

It appears from the law that merely the suspicion of "terrorism" can be grounds for this treatment and wide discretion is given to the president to determine if they should be held by the military.

Absolutely frightening and totally off the mainstream radar screen. The country can not think in principle to understand the implications of this effort.

Steve D said...

'Whose side is he on?'

Not my side, that's for sure!