December 16, 2011
Obama supports draconian FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act provisions. Justification given is national security and war on terror hokum.
Henceforth, anyone anywhere, including US citizens, may be indefinitely held without charge or trial, based solely on suspicions, spurious allegations or none at all.
No reasonable proof is needed, just suspicions that those detained pose threats. Henceforth, indefinite detentions can follow mere membership (past or present) or support for suspect organizations.
Presidents now have unchecked dictatorial powers to arrest, interrogate and indefinitely detain law-abiding citizens if accused of potentially posing a threat.
Constitutional, statute and international laws won't apply. Martial law will replace them if so ordered.
As a result, US military personnel anywhere in the world may arrest US citizens and others, throw them in military dungeons, and hold them indefinitely outside constitutionally mandated civil protections, including habeas rights, due process, and other judicial procedures.
In other words, presidents may order anyone arrested and imprisoned for life without charge or trial. Tyranny arrived in America. Abuse of power replaced rule of law protections.
Even someone erroneously arrested and cleared of wrongdoing could be held indefinitely without charge, given non-civil trials, none at all, or, for foreign nationals, sent abroad to torture prison hellholes.
Civil Libertarian Responses
On December 14, an ACLU press release headlined, "White House Backs Away from Defense Bill Veto Threat," saying:
Obama "support(s) passage of the (FY2012) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains harmful provisions (to) authorize the US military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians, including American citizens, anywhere in the world."
Responding, ACLU Washington Legislative Office director Laura Murphy said:
"The president should more carefully consider the consequences of allowing this bill to become law. If (he) signs this bill, it will damage both his legacy and America's reputation for upholding the rule of law."
The last time Congress authorized indefinite detentions for uncharged US citizens without trial was in 1950 over Harry Truman's veto.
The Emergency Detention Act provision of the Internal Security Act authorized incarceration for those considered likely to commit espionage or sabotage.
It was never used, then repealed by the 1971 Non-Detenton Act, stating:
"No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress."
At issue was never again subjecting US citizens to lawless internment the way Japanese Americans were in 1942. At the time, loyal citizens were forced into War Relocation Camps lawlessly.
Murphy faintly hoped Obama would emulate Truman. However, Senate bill sponsor Carl Levin said he insisted on subjecting US citizens to the same draconian treatment as foreign nationals. The original Senate bill excluded them. At his request, they were added.
ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer called NDAA "an awful bill...." He and other civil libertarians are outraged by its passage. Jaffer added:
This bill will "make permanent as an American law this fixture of worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial. (It's) a bill that would further militarize counterterrorism policy."
It's "a bill that will make it harder to close Guantanamo. It has all the problems that we identified earlier, and it is really quite astonishing and disappointing that (Obama) is withdrawing his veto threat."
All along, of course, it was disingenuous and hollow. As explained above, he insists on subjecting uncharged US citizens to the same draconian treatment as foreign nationals.
On December 14, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said:
Obama "made a choice with chilling consequences today when he announced he would not veto the NDAA despite the lack of change to provisions of the bill that make it even more difficult to shut down the prison at Guantanamo and make indefinite military detention(s) without trial a permanent feature of the US legal system."
Throughout his tenure, Obama exceeded the worst of George Bush. Besides trashing rule of law principles and other democratic values, waging multiple imperial wars, sanctioning torture, wrecking America's economy, and turning a blind eye to growing human need, he's taking a major step toward institutionalizing tyranny by supporting the "indefinite detention of citizens and non-citizens alike without charge or trial...."
On December 15, Bill of Rights Day, the Senate passed NDAA following House passage on December 14. On December 16, Obama will sign it into law, in defiance of Bill of Rights protections he'll further abrogate with his signature.
As a result, December 15 may become known as a day of infamy when tyranny replaced constitutional law.
Henceforth, no one anywhere will be safe, and there's no place to hide.
Major Media Scoundrels for Tyranny
Notably, US media scoundrels largely ignored the bill for months. On December 14, ahead of its enactment, The New York Times misreported its significance by failing to explain how US citizens are affected. Instead, it discussed inconsequential language changes and quoted a White House statement, saying:
"As a result of (House/Senate conference committee changes), we have concluded that the language does not challenge or constrain the president's ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the American people, and the president's senior advisors will not recommend a veto."
A same day Washington Post (WP) article also ignored the bill's draconian provisions. It quoted the same White House statement, and falsely claimed civilian authorities, not America's military, will be authorized to make arrests on US soil.
A December 13 WP editorial also misreported, claiming US citizens won't be subjected to military detention. In addition, like The Times and is own December 14 article, it discussed (ahead of passage) inconsequential changes while omitting explanation of constitutionally destructive draconian provisions.
Of course, no one ever accused America's major media of being long on truth and full disclosure. In serving wealth and power, they fail on all counts by inverting truth and avoiding what journalists are supposed to do - their job.
Readers, viewers and listeners have a choice. Growing numbers exercising it by walking away.
They're tuning out and making credible choices for real news and analysis more needed today perhaps than ever, given America's draconian direction.
Hopefully eventually they all will before it's too late to matter.
A Final Comment
On December 14, Nader.org headlined, "Congressional Tyranny, White House Surrender," saying:
The FY 2012 NDAA "will finish off some critical American rights under our Constitution." Two retired four-star marine generals (Charles Krulak and Joseph Hoar) urged an Obama veto, saying:
"One provision would authorize the military to indefinitely detain without charge people suspected of involvement with terrorism, including United States citizens apprehended on American soil. Due process would be a thing of the past..."
"A second provision would mandate military custody for most terrorism suspects. It would force on the military responsibilities it hasn't sought....for domestic law enforcement...."
"A third provision would further extend a ban on transfers from Guantanamo, ensuring that this morally and financially expensive symbol of detainee abuse will remain open well into the future."
Other military, security, and former government officials also expressed opposition.
This law will deny US citizens due process and judicial fairness. It will let military forces become law enforcers. It will make America a police state. It will abolish constitutional freedoms besides others already lost.
This "arbitrary, open-ended dictatorial White House mandate was never subjected to even a House or Senate Committee hearing....It was rammed through by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees without the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees invoking their concurrent jurisdiction for public hearings."
As president, Obama's done the impossible. He's governed worse than his fiercest critics feared, worse than Bush on domestic and foreign policies.
This law furthers destroy American freedom. Obama's support and moral cowardice assures it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.