Editor: The following is the text that was handed out by the Save the Bill of Rights coalition on February 11th at their rally in front of the State Democrats’ Convention at the Convention Center in downtown San Diego.
REPEAL THE NDAA – The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012
During last December, both the US Senate and the House of Representatives passed this Act and President Obama signed it into law on December 31, 2011. It is now the law of the land.
The Act includes provisions that would allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens without any recourse to legal interventions or civil rights if accused of a “belligerent act” or any terror-related offense.
These provisions mean that anyone of us – or any group of us – could be imprisoned without arraignment, without access to a lawyer, without access to habeas corpus, without a jury trial, without due process – without the protection of the Bill of Rights, our basic, fundamental rights as citizens.
These detentions can occur at the whim of the Executive Branch, and the President doesn’t have to provide any evidence, testimony or proof whatsoever; there is no judicial or Congressional oversight or review; and there is no requirement even to acknowledge that a person has been detained.
The detention can last as long as the detainee’s life allows – however short that might be. Around the world, this despised and fearsome procedure is known as “disappearing” and is the weapon of choice of tyrants, despots, and dictators against their own citizens. Victims are usually those people who are seen to challenge the government or the wealthy.
Our Congress has now granted the President this power – to disappear U.S. citizens and use the armed forces to do so – at any time against any American citizen anywhere on American soil and for whatever reason. And nothing needs to be justified, explained, or acknowledged!
We believe that there is a civil rights emergency in this country because this Act is law and our sacred Bill of Rights has been totally undermined. Join us in finding common ground with political activists across the spectrum and in demonstrating against both major political parties. Half of the Democrats and nearly all the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for the passage of the NDAA, and all but 13 Senators voted for it – which was then signed into law by President Obama.
Why the NDAA of 2012 Is So Bad
The Act violates the Fifth Amendment right to due process of law; it violates the Sixth Amendment right to trial, as well as the Posse Comitatus Act which prohibits the domestic deployment of the military as law enforcement.
Activists could be indefinitely detained. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies treat peace, environmental, animal-rights, and anti-tax activists as “terrorists”. By legalizing the indefinite detention of anyone accused of a terror-related crime, this Act gives the federal government the unchecked power to silence critics, deny the right to trial, and override the presumption of innocence.
The heads of the FBI, Defense and National Intelligence, the chairs of Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees were all opposed to this Act. They all could see that indefinite detentions would threaten Constitutional rights, force the military to perform domestic law enforcement which it is ill-prepared to do and erode trust in our justice system. Even President Obama had reservations initially about the bill before he signed it, and then when he signed it, he issued a “Signing Statement” that supposedly assured us that his Administration would not use the Act to violate the rights of American citizens. But – we ask – what about future Administrations and Presidents?
In addition, military detention without trial removes the courts from our system of checks and balances. The NDAA erodes the separation of powers as well as individual rights.
The NDAA passed without a single Congressional hearing and over the objections of Congressional committees denied the chance to review it. Many members of Congress did not and still do not even understand it. The mainstream corporate media did not cover any of the Act’s provisions, and we did not have any national debate over such drastic changes to our basic, fundamental rights.
A group of us here in San Diego County have formed a coalition of sorts, called Save the Bill of Rights. We have been meeting weekly, have a website – SavetheBillofRights.net – and we’re planning future actions and teach-ins about this issue.
We have hooked up with a national group called the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (http://www.bordc.org/) and our group joined others in a recent National Day of Action against the NDAA on Feb. 3rd with protests at both Cong. Susan Davis (D) and Cong. Duncan Hunter (R) offices.
Members of Congress have also offered new bills:
Senate Bill 2003 – sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein – called the Due Process Guarantee Act – is to clarify that military actions, wars cannot authorize the detention of American citizens or lawful permanent residents without charges or trial.
House Bill 3785 – Sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul – would repeal an onerous provision of the NDAA of 2012.
House Bill 3676 – sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Landry with 58 co-sponsors – including Susan Davis. It would amend the NDAA to specifically state that US citizens may not be detained without all the rights of due process or established by the Constitution.
Join the Save the Bill of Rights committee
Our website: SavetheBillofRights.net
Contact us for future meetings and events: firstname.lastname@example.org