December 14, 2011
GOP Reps and Senators Join Democrats in Takedown
Today the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Conference Report of the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1867/H.R. 1540), which is arguably one of the most important – and dangerous -- bill ever presented to Congress for consideration. If the House says “Yes,” the bill goes to the Senate – the last stop before being sent to the president for his signature. And then? We’ll talk about that in a minute.
are being urged to “melt the phone lines” -- but don’t
bother trying to call a bunch of congressmen: There’s simply not
enough time. Call your own representative in the House and your two senators.
Call both their district and D.C. offices. You can find contact information
at www.house.gov and
OK. So what’s this all about?
The NDAA is the bill that basically defines the entire United States as a “battlefield” in the War on Terror and allows the U.S. Military to arrest American citizens on American soil. These can be indefinite detentions, without trial -- and for that matter, without charge.
The legislation will “basically say for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), enthusiastically explained on the floor of the Senate.
As attorney and Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald describes it, S. 1867 (the Senate version):
(1) mandates that all accused Terrorists be indefinitely imprisoned by the military rather than in the civilian court system; it also unquestionably permits (but does not mandate) that even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil accused of Terrorism be held by the military rather than charged in the civilian court system (Sec. 1032);
(2) renews the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) with more expansive language: to allow force (and military detention) against not only those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and countries which harbored them, but also anyone who “substantially supports” Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces” (Sec. 1031); and,
(3) imposes new restrictions on the U.S. Government’s ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo (Secs. 1033-35).
On Thursday, Dec. 1, the Senate approved S. 1867 by an overwhelming 93-7. This is more than a little amazing. It’s a disaster. The only serious opposition came from three Republican senators: Rand Paul (Ky.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Tom Coburn (Okla); three Democrats: Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Tom Harkin (Iowa); and one Independent: Bernard Sanders (Vt.).
This was another Sen. Harry Reid Holiday Special. The really objectionable sections were drafted in secret by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and introduced Nov. 15, in the days before Thanksgiving. Debate didn’t get really underway until Nov. 27, and it was all over by Dec. 1.
The Senate action was a replay of an earlier vote in the House. H.R 1540, introduced by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), passed 322-96 on May 26. Only six Republicans had the gumption to break with the GOP leadership and vote No: Tom McClintock (Calif.), Ron Paul (Texas), Justin Amash (Mich.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Tom Campbell (Calif.), and John Duncan (Tenn.). They were joined by 90 Democrats (with 95 Democrats voting Aye).
What’s going on here?
It’s been just over a year since American voters – inspired by the enthusiasm of the Tea Party movement and angry over ObamaCare and other legislation being shoved through Congress by Democrats and the Obama administration – took back the House and sent 63 new Republican members to D.C., along with six new GOP senators.
In January they arrived in Washington, with their Gadsden flags and promises of getting government “off our backs,” all eager to fight for liberty, the Constitution, and the restoration of the Republic.
At least that’s what many of us were counting on. These new members had been given a “to-do list” of sorts that called for the repeal (or at least amending) of the raft of legislation passed in the earlier session – everything from ObamaCare and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act to the regulations mandating the use of “twirly” light bulbs. That was for starters.
It was a pretty hefty list. Perhaps it was too much to expect from these newly-sworn congressmen and senators.
But at least they could have held the line for the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Maybe they couldn’t fix things and make matters better. But whatever they failed to accomplish the one thing I didn’t expect was that they would Make Things Worse.
And never in my wildest nightmares did I think GOP congressmen would vote for legislation that essentially repeals the Posse Commutates Act and statutizes the role of the military in domestic law enforcement.
But that’s just what they did. And the damage to our political system and our country could well be irreparable.
It’s not as through lawmakers weren’t alerted to concerns of their constituents. Activists from dozens of groups – representing all points of the political spectrum -- have been pounding on Congress to reject the NDAA – or at least the most odious sections. There’s the ACLU, the John Birch Society, the Tea Parties, the Occupiers, Glenn Beck’s 9-12 Project – and so on.
Alex Jones at Infowars.com has come out in opposition, as have writers at NewsWithViews.com. Just this Monday attorney Jonathan Emord had a piece on Battlefield USA. Presidential candidate Laurie Roth, Rev. Chuck Baldwin, J.B. Williams (he calls the bill “treasonous”), have published excellent analyses of S. 1867. Al Duncan sounded the alarm back in May, detailing Sec. 3034 in H.R. 1540.
But Congress almost to a person completely ignored their pleas. But maybe, just maybe, enough phone calls will persuade Congress to rethink this.
NOTE: I received this update yesterday (Tuesday) from Campaign For Liberty which has important information for activists planning on making calls today. Here’s a key section:
“Now, it's important to make something very clear here. We've received a number of messages from well-intentioned folks who contacted us saying something like, "But, Section 1032 already says it doesn't apply to U.S. Citizens, you're making a fight where there isn't one and really just being used as pawns in the ACLU's liberal agenda..."
I cannot stress this enough (nor can I express how many times I responded to it by email, phone, and private message) -- don't be fooled by Section 1032, Subsection (b) on "Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens."
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Despite what a straight-forward reading of the text would appear to say, that the "requirement to detain a person" does not apply to U.S. Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens this is just cleverly worded political-speak to deceive the American people. Just because they aren't "required" doesn't mean they aren't allowed.
With all that cleared up (hopefully clear as glass rather than mud) let's look at where we're at now.
For the entire email, click here.
- Jonathan Emord: Battlefield
America: Dec. 12, 2011
2 - Laurie Roth: Military Can Arrest and Hold U.S. Citizens: Dec. 9, 2011
3 - Chuck Baldwin: No Wonder America's Founders Distrusted Standing Armies: Dec. 1, 2011
4 - J.B. Williams: Is Defense Authorization Act Treasonous? Dec. 6, 2011
5 - Al Duncan: War, Part 6: May 20, 2011
Articles / Additional Sources
- ACLU: Senators
Demand the Military Lock Up American Citizens in a "Battlefield"
They Define as Being Right Outside Your Window: Nov. 23, 2011:
2 - ACLU: Senate Rejects Amendment Banning Indefinite Detention: Nov. 29, 2011:
3 - Glenn Greenwood: Congress Endorsing Military Detention, a New AUMF: Salon.com, Dec. 1, 2011
4 - Dr. Andrew Bosworth: Treason from Within: The Road Towards a Police State: Global Research.ca: Nov. 28, 2011
5 - For text of all versions of S. 1867 and H.R. 1540, plus congressional actions including roll calls and Conference Report, go to www.thomas.gov – enter bill number in search box. Both versions are over 900 pages.
6 - Downsize D.C. and Campaign for Liberty: For updates, action alerts, and sample letters to Congress.
© 2011 Sarah Foster - All Rights Reserved
Sarah Foster is a political researcher and freelance writer in Sacramento, Calif. She holds a B.A. in anthropology from U.C., Berkeley and a M. A in folklore-mythology from U.C.L.A. A regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com, her writings have also appeared in WorldNetDaily, Reason Magazine, Orange County Register, and other libertarian/conservative publications.
Sarah can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.