2012′s civil liberties apocalypse has already happened
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
January 19, 2012
In case you missed it, President Barack Obama has signed a death knell for the Bill of Rights. It’s a hell of a way to begin a year many believe will mark the end of the world.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) makes a mockery of our basic civil liberties. It shreds the intent of the Founders to establish a nation where essential rights are protected. It puts us all at risk for arbitrary, indefinite incarceration with no real rights to recourse.
The Act authorizes a $626 billion dollar defense budget (which does not include the CIA, special ops, various black box items, etc). Obama’s signing statement says it does address counterterrorism at home and abroad as well as Defense Department modernization, health care costs and more.
But it also includes Sections 1021 and 1022, bitterly opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, among many others. The New York Times urged Obama to veto the bill because of them. The UK-based Guardian said NDAA 2012 allows allows for indefinite detention of US citizens “without trial [of] American terrorism subjects arrested on U.S. soil, who could then be shipped to Guantanamo Bay.” The Kansas City Star was equally blunt, stating that the NDAA is “trampling the bill of rights in defense’s name.”
Section 1021 reasserts the President’s authority to use the military to detain any person “who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” It also includes the military’s power to detain anyone who commits a “belligerent act” against the U.S. or its coalition allies under the law of war. Despite widespread public pressure, Obama did not veto the bill. In his signing statement he said: “I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”
Citing the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, the NDAA states that those detained may be detained “without trial, until the end of the hostilities authorized by the [AUMF].” The NDAA also allows trial by military tribunal, or “transfer to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin,” or transfer to “any other foreign country or any other foreign entity.” This last practice is known as “rendition.” Read the rest of this entry →