On Tuesday evening seven Occupy D.C. protesters were arrested outside the White House as they protested the law Congress passed last week permitting the indefinite detention of American citizens, the Washington Examiner reported. -- "This was the latest of three consecutive protests against the NDAA outside the White House this week; 11 were arrested at a protest Monday night. Protester Marshall Scott said the group plans to continue the nightly protests until Obama vetoes the bill," Aubrey Whelan said. -- A Washington Post blog posted a clip of Jon Stewart denouncing NDAA 2012 on "The Daily Show." -- In an editorial, the Salt Lake Tribune called NDAA 2012 "the most direct assault so far on the concept found in the Declaration of Independence that humans are endowed with certain inalienable rights" and called it a "disgusting turn of events." -- A letter in the Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA) denounced Sen. Charles Grassley for supporting NDAA 2012, telling him that "I cannot begin to fathom why you would support circumventing the Constitution. To say that I’m disappointed in you is an absolute understatement." -- Brian Morton of Baltimore's City Paper pointed out "one of my main problems with the latest defense authorization bill: The language in it leads one to think that there is no end to this conflict. Oceania will always be at war with Eastasia. As long as there is one person on the planet who stands up and says, 'I am al-Qaida,' these provisions will be in effect." -- "[W]e are now prisoners to fear." ...
SEVEN OCCUPY D.C. PROTESTERS ARRESTED OUTSIDE WHITE HOUSE
By Aubrey Whelan
December 20, 2011
U.S. Park Police arrested seven Occupy D.C. protesters outside the White House Tuesday night after they sat on the sidewalk and refused to move when police asked them to leave.
The Occupiers were protesting a section in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 that they say permits the indefinite detention of terror suspects regardless of their nationality. Many said they wouldn't vote for President Obama unless he vetoed the bill.
About 25 protesters marched in a circle outside the White House until police told them to move behind a police line they'd set up between two light poles. There were about 25 U.S. Park Police on scene. This was the latest of three consecutive protests against the NDAA outside the White House this week; 11 were arrested at a protest Monday night.
Protester Marshall Scott said the group plans to continue the nightly protests until Obama vetoes the bill.
'INDEFINITE DETENTION' PROVISION STIRS ONLINE ANGER -- AND JON STEWART (VIDEO)
By Melissa Bell
December 8, 2011
Last week, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act and it could be signed into law by President Obama by Friday.
However, online protests have started to surface surrounding an attached provision to the bill -- Section 1031 -- that could allow the military to detain American citizens indefinitely without a trial.
The White House originally threatened a veto, citing serious legal and policy concerns about a number of detainee provisions, including Section 1031. However, a new online petition contends the administration wanted the provision to pass, despite its veto threat. The petition points to a video of Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) on the Senate floor saying the administration asked the Armed Services Committee to remove language in Section 1031 that would have made American citizens exempt from indefinite detentions.
VICTORY FOR TERROR
Salt Lake Tribune
December 19, 2011
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were followed by two giant, and wholly self-inflicted, wounds on the American people. One, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, formally came to an end Thursday.
The other, the ongoing war on the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, continues. In fact, when President Obama signs, as he is expected to, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, it will be the most direct assault so far on the concept found in the Declaration of Independence that humans are endowed with certain inalienable rights.
The record should show that, while the bill rolled through Congress on the Tough on Terror bandwagon, Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Jason Chaffetz had the guts to vote against it. Sadly, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Reps. Rob Bishop and Jim Matheson voted for it.
Lee, in fact, has filed legislation that would take the edge off some of the more heinous provisions of the defense bill. His bill would make it clear that, even when Congress has declared war or otherwise authorized military actions, the habeas corpus rights of all U.S. citizens and legal residents found within the borders of the United States are not compromised.
The defense bill will, for the first time, actually codify the vulgar idea, previously only assumed and argued, that the president may order, and the military may enforce, the detainment and indefinite custody of any person accused of being a member, agent, sympathizer or admirer of the al-Qaida terror network.
The bill specifically cuts the civilian criminal justice system -- judges, prosecutors, FBI agents -- out of the loop, unless the president goes out of his way to bring them back in on specific cases. And with that structure, of course, goes all judicial oversight, all public accountability, all constitutional guarantees of trial by jury, the right to confront witnesses against you, the requirement that evidence be submitted to a judge and be substantive enough to justify the continued detainment of anyone not yet duly convicted of a crime.
This is a disgusting turn of events on many levels. The most troubling is the fact that Obama, after running for office on a promise to be smart, not just mean, about the war on terror, has finally shoved aside all pretense of standing for the rule of law over political gain.
Despite some last-minute changes that gave the president more flexibility, but offered the rest of us no protection, this bill is the most damaging strike on Americans’ liberties in a long time. That makes it a victory for terrorism.
NATIONAL DEFENSE ACT RIPS APART BILL OF RIGHTS
By Devin L. Juel
Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA)
December 21, 2011
Dear Sen. Grassley,
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in you and your decision to support the National Defense Act. A piece of legislation that rips the Bill of Rights out of the U.S. Constitution.
I have supported you for many years. You, sir, have now lost my support. You appear to have lost sight of what your responsibilities are as a senator of the United States. You have forgotten that your position as a senator is an honor and that you work for us, the people of the great state of Iowa, and for all the people of the United States. You have failed us.
I’d love an honest explanation why you would ever think the idea of detaining American citizens without trial, seizing their assets without due process, eliminating habeas corpus would be a good idea.
Ben Franklin said: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Essential liberties are our rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution of the United States, and you are throwing them away. I cannot begin to fathom why you would support circumventing the Constitution.
To say that I’m disappointed in you is an absolute understatement. God Bless the United States and those that uphold the Constitution.
Devin L. Juel
THE FEAR OF FEAR ITSELF
By Brian Morton
** It’s not like poverty, drugs, or terror are going to suddenly jump up and shout, “OK—I give up!” **
City Paper (Baltimore, MD)
December 21, 2011
For all the information the internet instantaneously delivers to our greedy eyes, the curse that rides along with it is hyperbole. The net has been driven to a fever pitch over the last fortnight regarding the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 -- the bill that covers funding for the Pentagon, the military’s actions overseas (including the “end” of the Iraq War), and, most importantly in this instance, what the Bush administration used to call the Global War on Terror.
This writer has never been a fan of the construction where one declares war on abstract nouns, if only because it is a recipe for war without end, where a “victory” can only be declared by the institution that made the declaration in the first place. It’s not like poverty, drugs, or terror are going to suddenly jump up and shout, “O.K. -- I give up!”
And that brings me around to one of my main problems with the latest defense authorization bill: The language in it leads one to think that there is no end to this conflict. Oceania will always be at war with Eastasia. As long as there is one person on the planet who stands up and says, “I am al-Qaida,” these provisions will be in effect.
Much of the furor that went around over the provisions in the NDAA as it came out of the Senate was justified. It would have considered the United States to be a battlefield; it would have opened the door to the military being able to pick up and detain American citizens indefinitely without charge or trial and in military custody to boot. Habeus corpus, a cornerstone of the legal system going back to the Magna Carta? Poof, gone.
Many of the most odious provisions of the NDAA as it stood when it was passed by the Senate were stripped or modified once it made it through the House-Senate conference report, and that’s why President Obama said he’d sign the bill. The language changed included a number of caveat paragraphs inserted (specifically, Section 1022, paragraphs [b] 1-2; do a search for it in the PDF) that exempt United States citizens and lawful resident aliens from military custody. [NOTE: Unfortunately, this is not the case; see here. --M.L.] But all this overlooks a central point, something that the bill itself points out. This horse was let out of the barn a long time ago.
If there’s one document upon which the entire campaign against terrorism was based, it was the Authorization for Use of Military Force that was passed a week after Sept. 11. No fancy political name like the PATRIOT Act, just a dry statement of permission, barely a page and a half long. Yet this one paragraph -- "That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons" -- set the stage for every Constitution-shredding act to come. It was this provision that allowed then President Bush to believe he could spy on American citizens and conduct an end run on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2005. It was this provision that allowed his solicitor general, Paul Clement, to stand in front of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that same year when asked by a judge if he was “prepared to boldly say that the United States is a battlefield in the war on terror.”
Clement responded, “I can say that, and I can say it boldly.”
So we, as Americans, long ago allowed our fear of what seemed like an invisible foreign enemy to infect our political system and gut the checks on democracy instituted by our Founding Fathers. It hasn’t been the first time in our history that our politicians -- Democrat and Republican -- have failed us, but that is cold comfort to the fact that power surrendered is rarely returned. This latest bill is just another timely reminder that we have leaders too craven to fear to put a sunset on what were supposed to be temporary limits to freedom. Fear of weakness, fear of what might happen should there be any kind of successful terrorist attack, from a failed underwear bomber to an apocalypse. After all, think of what kind of ads an opponent might run in the next election.
But we are now prisoners to fear; as Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick put it, “Congress appears determined to do away with every tactic that has identified and halted terror attacks in the past 10 years, and to enshrine into the law everything that has failed.” Our current political climate, which insists on denying the legitimacy of the current president as commander-in-chief, even micromanages counterterrorism in this bill to the point where it mentions one detainee in Guantanamo Bay, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, by name.
This is just one more drop in the river. Sadly, we stopped watching it a long time ago.
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