Even a single attempt at violating one’s freedoms is beyond reprehensible, especially when the culprits are our own public servants. But the fact that our politicians have sought to done so several times – in just this past decade alone – is as vile as it is disturbing. I’m not sure how Congress has the audacity to actually attempt to legislate such clearly unethical and unconstitutional laws.
The Senate plans to vote on whether to grant the office of the president the power to detain anyone around the world, without charge or evidence. As the ACLU reports:
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. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night’s Republican debate. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.
The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday. The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing…
…In support of this harmful bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that the bill will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial “American citizen or not.” Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also declared that the bill is needed because “America is part of the battlefield.
Click the hyperlinks within this excerpt for more detail about the provisions. Needless to say, the premise would be disquieting enough without being applicable to potentially everyone else on the planet. As if this effort weren’t pushing the standards of decency enough, a few days ago the Senate was also looking into repealing the anti-torture measures of a previous anti-torture amendment. Again, the ACLU reports:
If passed, an amendment introduced by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) to the Defense Authorization bill would roll back torture prevention measures that Congress overwhelmingly approved in the 2005 McCain Anti-Torture Amendment, as well as a 2009 Executive Order on ensuring lawful interrogations. It would also require the administration to create a secret list of approved interrogation techniques in a classified annex to the existing interrogation field manual.
In a related development, republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann renewed her attack on the prohibition of waterboarding and other forms of torture in her claim that the ACLU runs interrogations. But in fact, the director of the CIA, General David Petraeus and the Secretary of Defense (and former CIA Director) Leon Panetta have both said that the 2009 Executive Order applying the Army Field Manual government-wide and the 2005 McCain Anti-Torture Amendment work and are consistent with good national security.
As a side-note, I find it curious that the same GOP that reveres the Constitution as a sacred document, and postures itself as the true defenders of individual liberty, is behind both efforts (though by no means are all Republicans in agreement with this, nor are all Democrats guiltless). It would seem that the shrilly expressed cause for small government is suspended with respect to issues of “national security” and “public safety.
If anyone wants to act on this, as I certainly will, click the ACLU hyperlinks to access the main articles and follow their instructions. There are both grassroots efforts, as well as counter-amendments in Congress, that are being utilized to combat this affront on our freedoms. If there’s anything that would better contribute the curtailing of our civil liberties, it’s apathy and ignorance. Don’t let cynicism or indifference facilitate these sorts of noxious efforts – however understandable such sentiments would be, given the precedence.