America is opening up a new warfront and it’s in your own backyard. It’s in your neighbor’s house, it’s three states over and it’s on the other side of the Mississippi.
That’s what a new legislation could lead to and the consequences are dire and constitutionally damning.
The United States Senate is set to vote this week on a bill that would categorize the entire USA as a “battlefield,” allowing law enforcement duties to be dished out by the American Military, who in turn could detain any US citizen as a war criminal — even coming into their own homes to issue arrests.
The National Defense Authorization Act regularly comes before Congress for changes and additions, but the latest provision, S. 1867, proves to be the most powerful one yet in raping constitutional freedoms from Americans. Move over, Patriot Act. Should S. 1867 pass, lawmakers could conjure the text to keep even regular citizens detained indefinitely by their own military.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of the bill, has explicitly stated that the passing of S. 1867 would “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and could lead to the detention of citizens without charge or trial, writes Chris Anders of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington office.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H) sits on the same side of the aisle and agrees wholeheartedly. “America is part of the battlefield,” says the lawmaker.
America’s Military is already operating in roughly 200 countries, dishing out detention and executions to citizens of other nations. As unrest erupts on the country’s own soil amid a recession, economic collapse and protests in hundreds of cities from coast-to-coast, is it that much of a surprise that lawmakers finally want to declare the US a warzone?
Maybe not, but if the Senate has their way, the consequential could be detrimental to the US Constitution.
“The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president — and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world,” adds Anders. “The power is so broad that even US citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.”
“American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?” asks Anders.
Just like its supporters, the provision has attracted its share of critics as well. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill if it makes its way through Congress, but given the president’s poor standing among the American public (his disapproval rating is at its highest ever in recent polling), a hawkish Republican could usurp Obama as commander-in-chief as the 2012 election is less than a year away and the unemployment level stays stagnant and sad. With the exception of Congressman Ron Paul, the frontrunners currently vying for the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency have remained outspoken in their support for not just increasing American military presence overseas at a time when the Pentagon’s budget dwarfs many governmental sectors, but in adding provisions to the Patriot Act itself to further remove freedoms from the people.
During last week’s GOP debate televised on CNN, former House speaker Newt Gingrich said that the country must “try to find that balancing act between our individual liberties and security.” That same night, pizzaman Herman Cain said suspected terrorists should be killed before identified and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum suggested that Muslims should be profiled by the American government because, “obviously,” they are the group “that are most likely to be committing these crimes,” speaking broadly of his assumption of those that construct terrorist attacks.
“I have a personal belief that you never have to give up liberty for security. You can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights,” responded Rep. Paul. “You can prevent crimes by becoming a police state . . . So if you advocate the police state, yes, you can have safety and security and you might prevent a crime, but the crime then will be against the American people and against our freedoms.”
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has already aligned himself as an opponent of the legislation, but needs to garner the backing of others if he wants to keep Congress from enacting the provision. “One section of these provisions, section 1031, would be interpreted as allowing the military to capture and indefinitely detain American citizens on US soil,” the Senator said in a speech last month. “Section 1031 essentially repeals the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 by authorizing the US military to perform law enforcement functions on American soil. That alone should alarm my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but there are other problems with these provisions that must be resolved.”
Udall isn’t the only one on Capitol Hill that has seen a problem with the provision, which was developed under shady circumstances. The text itself was drafted in secrecy in a closed-door meeting by US Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, two of the biggest names in Washington. No hearing was held to discuss the details and it was passed in a closed-door committee meeting, reports Infowar’s Paul Joseph Watson.
Watson continues to conjure up a list of characteristics that the Department of Homeland Security have identified as traits of domestic terrorism, calling into question past maneuvers from the government that led to those owning guns, buying gold and even donating to charity being considered America’s enemy. At last week’s debate, Ron Paul added that “It’s anybody associated with organizations, which means almost anybody can be loosely associated,” referring to how the government can use its discretion — or lack thereof — to bring terrorism charges against its own people. Calling into question the recent execution of two Americans with alleged ties to Al-Qaeda, Paul added, “So, that makes all Americans vulnerable, and now we know American citizens are vulnerable to assassination.”
The provision itself passed in the House all the way back in May, and only now is going before the Senate. Justin Amash, a Republican representative from Cascade Township, was one of the five House Republicans that voted against it. “It is destructive of our Constitution,” he writes on his Facebook page. It would “permit the federal government to indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil, without charge or trial, at the discretion of the president.”
Given that the passing of the provision would allow for legally lengthy and questionable detention, it becomes bizarre why Sen. McCain, a former prisoner of war, would pen such a bill. McCain was imprisoned in North Vietnam for over five years in a camp where he was detained and tortured before entering American politics.
“The president should not have the authority to determine whether the Constitution applies to you, no matter what the allegations,” adds Amash, who also writes, “Note that it does not preclude US citizens from being detained indefinitely, without charge or trial, it simply makes such detention discretionary.
“Please urge your Senators to oppose these outrageous provisions.”
As a solution, Sen. Udall has offered a counter act, being dubbed the Udall Amendment, that would keep S. 1867 from its critical consequences and would instead require lawmakers to examine the necessity of detaining citizens domestically, and instead would make Congress consider whether any detention legislation is needed at all.
In the meantime, Anders and ACLU are calling on Americans to voice their concerns to the US Senate. As political posturing keeps the country divided and the branches of government fight to find a solution to the crumbling economy, infrastructure — and now the Constitution — a solution to this problem is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the assaults on Americans that is underway.