Exactly 220 years to the date after the Bill of Rights was ratified, the US Senate today voted 86 to 13 in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, allowing the indefinite detention and torture of Americans.
After a back-and-forth in recent days between both the Senate and House yielded intense criticism from Americans attempting to hold onto their Constitutional rights, NDAA FY2012 is now on its way to the White House, where yesterday the Obama administration revealed that the president would not veto the legislation, cancelling out a warning he offered less than a month earlier.
Obama has finally brought about change to America, but it’s nothing to be hopeful about.
Speaking before the Senate this afternoon, Sen. Lindsey Graham (Rep-SC) told his colleagues, “I hope you believe America is part of the battlefield.” The United States is at war, he insisted, and anyone alleged to be in opposition to the US government’s game will now be subjected to military-style detention indefinitely.
As RT reported earlier, one provision in NDAA FY2012 will allow for the reinstatement of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” essentially making waterboarding and forms of psychological torture a very possible reality for anyone America deems to be a threat, including its own citizens who, prior to the ruling, had the US Constitution on their side.
Among the corporations which have lobbied in support of NDAA FY2012 are several military contractors, including Honeywell and Bluewater Defense, who together have received millions of dollars in Pentagon guarantees this year alone.
In his remarks Thursday afternoon, Senator Graham attacked America’s current legal system, critiquing it for allowing suspected terrorists to be treated as “common criminals.”
“We think al-Qaeda operatives, citizens or not, are not common criminals. We think they are crazy people,” he said.
“If you’re an American citizen and you want to help…destroy your own country, here is what’s coming your way,” cautioned the senator. The threat he went on to impose involved indefinite military detention for everyone.
“What this legislation does,” lectured Levin, “says from the Congress’ point-of-view, that we expressly authorize the indefinite detention” of someone deemed a threat. “We recognize the authority of this president and every other president to hold an enemy combatant indefinitely, whether they are captured home or abroad, because that only makes sense.”
Under the Act, those suspected of “belligerent” crimes can be subjected to the treatment. Graham tried to calm fears by insisting that suspected criminals will all be allowed a day in federal court, but made it clear that as long as a judge deems someone a suspect in a crime, that indefinite detention can begin without the help of any legal counsel for the defense.
“How long can you hold them? As long as it takes to make us safe,” said Graham.
The senator added that, “when you join the enemy…we aren’t worried about how we’re going to prosecute you right away.” Because of this, Miranda Rights should not be read to suspected criminals and additionally the right to an attorney is also suspended under the act.
In his closing marks, Graham ironically recited that in respect to “civil liberties and the American way of life,” US citizens must fight. “If we don’t fight for it, we’re going to lose it.”
Before the Senate came to their final vote today, Sen. Levin asked that a remark from the White House yesterday insisting that the president’s aides will no longer recommend a veto be added to the record.
Opposition in the Senate was thin but existent today. Senator Mark Udall (Dem-CO) cautioned lawmakers that these provisions will “deny American citizens their due process rights,” and thus not only “make us less safe, but would serve as an unprecedented threat to our constitutional liberties.”
“If we start labeling our citizens as enemies of the United States without any due process, I think we will have done serious damage” to the Constitution, he added, before also calling the legislation politically expedient.
Despite his reservations, Senator Udall reluctantly stated that he was voting in favor, noting that America’s military depends on a quick passing of the act. Still, he said of the dangerous provisions to the act that will allow for the indefinite detention, “I remain unconvinced of their benefit.”
“Now we may be jeopardizing entire cases by adding new layers of bureaucracy and questionable legal processes,” added Udall. He said the legislation will present “numerous constitutional questions” and will go against a counterterrorism community he described as “already nimble.”
“For those of you who join me in voicing opposition to the detention provisions, I want to thank you,” said Udall.
“Though I intend to vote for the final passing of the bill…I want to make clear that I do not fully support this bill. I sincerely believe that this debate is not over and there is much work to do.”
Udall waved a copy of the US Constitution from the Senate floor before his colleagues as he made his closing remarks, reminding them that they all took an oath to uphold it. In the first ten amendments, collectively called the Bill of Rights, the Constitution grants Americans freedoms against searches, arrests and seizure without a probable cause. That legislation would have turned 220 years old today, had Congress not crushed it on the Senate floor.