Today – March 1st – the NDAA Goes Into Effect: Welcome to the End of the Rule of Law … Until It’s Repealed

by on March 1, 2012 · 7 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights, Military, Organizing, Politics, Popular, San Diego

Anti-NDAA action at Congressman Hunter's office, Feb. 3, 2012. Photo by Hugh Moore.

Passed by both Congressional chambers in December, signed into law by President Obama on December 31st, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 goes into effect today, March 1, 2012.

This is the Act that allows the indefinite detention of American citizens on American soil by our government.  It is the Act that allows the US military to be used as law enforcement inside the borders of the country – for the first time since the Civil War. The Act effectively disembowels the Bill of Rights – the Charter of our basic and fundamental rights as American citizens.

From now until the worst of its language is overruled or repealed, ours is not a nation ruled by those laws and provisions of rights laid down over two centuries ago, but a nation ruled by the whims of whomever is in the White House.  Welcome to the end of the rule of law in this nation.

The OB Rag has written extensively about the NDAA of 2012, such as the post Why Congress Needs to Feel Our Anger Over the NDAA of 2012. It said :

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.

And explained:

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.

 The Push Back Against the NDAA

It is not all hopeless, of course.  There is a visible push back against the passage of this dastardly Act. The NDAA has spawned new protest groups that have pledged to fight it- such as the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the StopNDAA. It has also resulted in a flurry of bills introduced in the House and Senate that would repeal the Act.

And locally, the Act has caused local activists to form a coalition of sorts  – Save the Bill of Rights – here in San Diego.  This group has been meeting regularly, sponsored actions at local Congressional offices, and a large rally in downtown San Diego when the State Democrats held their convention here. The group has a website – SavetheBillofRights.net – and is planning future actions and teach-ins about the issue.

 Law Suit Against Act

A lawsuit against the United States government was filed this week on behalf of a group of plaintiffs that includes Pulitzer prize-winning author Chris Hedges, Professor Noam Chomsky, the Pentagon Papers’ Daniel Ellsberg, an Icelandic Parliamentarian, and three women activists engaged in work they believe will put them in imminent danger under the NDAA.

Virginia Senate Passes Anti-NDAA Measure

Just recently, the Virginia Senate voted 39 to 1 in favor of House Bill 1160 (HB1160), the “NDAA Nullification Act.” The legislation would codify in law that no agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia – including defense forces and national guard troops, will comply with or assist the federal government in any way under it’s newly claimed powers to arrest and detain without due process.

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, armed conflicts, and wars cannot authorize the detention of American citizens or lawful permanent residents without charges or trial.

House Bill 3702 is the companion bill for the House sponsored by Rep. John Garamendi of California.

 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.

New Bill Introduced to Amend the NDAA

A new bill – H.R.4092 – has also just been introduced by Representative Chris Gibson, a Republican of the New York 20th District, which would amend the NDAA of 2012 “to provide clarification of the relationship of certain constitutional rights to provisions of law relating to the military detention of certain covered person.” The bill was referred to the Committee on Armed Services and to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Here’s the language of HR 4092:

 A BILL

 To amend the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 to provide clarification of the relationship of certain constitutional rights to provisions of law relating to the military detention of certain covered person.

 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

 SECTION 1. CLARIFICATION OF RELATIONSHIP OF CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO PROVISIONS OF LAW RELATING TO THE MILITARY DETENTION OF CERTAIN COVERED PERSONS.

 The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112-81) is amended–

(1) in section 1021, by adding at the end the following new subsection:

`(g) Preservation of Constitutional Rights- Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the writ of habeas corpus shall remain available to any individual detained within the United States and no American citizen or lawful resident may be detained without all the rights of due process to include, but not limited to–

`(1) the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury;

`(2) the right to be informed of the nature of the accusation;

`(3) the right to be confronted with the witnesses against them;

`(4) the right to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in their favor;

`(5) the right to have the assistance of legal counsel; and

`(6) all other rights afforded to them by the Constitution of the United States.’; and

(2) in section 1022, by adding at the end the following new subsection:

`(f) Preservation of Constitutional Rights- Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the writ of habeas corpus shall remain available to any individual detained within the United States and no American citizen or lawful resident may be detained without all the rights of due process to include, but not limited to–

`(1) the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury;

`(2) the right to be informed of the nature of the accusation;

`(3) the right to be confronted with the witnesses against them;

`(4) the right to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in their favor;

`(5) the right to have the assistance of legal counsel; and

`(6) all other rights afforded to them by the Constitution of the United States.’.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar goBallistic March 1, 2012 at 11:40 am

NDAA is not just another chipping away at Freedom. What is next? More Gitmo types of detention centers? Call your Rep and tell em to support 4092. Then show ur support by rallying with SaveTheBillOfRights.net

Reply

avatar rick trujillo March 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Frank (hope it’s OK to address you in the 1st person),
Terrific article, once again sounding the alarm for all our fellow citizens, still in political hibernation.
If I may, a few points to further clarity:
1. The second paragraph (an outstanding summary of the clear and present danger [ndaa] we now face) uses the pronoun “our” twice.
2. In the first instance, I would ask, isn’t it their (not our) government (the 1% or there about)) along with all the mechanisms devised and used by them $ to serve their interests?
3. In the second instance, “our basic and fundamental rights,” reads much more accurate. Because it is , in general, irrefutable.
I refer to this malady of pronoun usage as the pronoun disease. We all fall prey to it. Our civil rights are not, and never have been a stagnant existence. For our part, it is a living entity, constantly under attack by , usually, right wing forces. That has changed, and gives most of us pause (fear) because the Black guy in the White House, signed a piece of paper that goes against just about everything that we struggled for, in the civil rights department, for decades; rights that, also, ensured him and others, clear passage to the Oval Office. This, in my opinion, doesn’t make common Democrats fools…but it does strongly suggest they have been fooled at best and betrayed, in the most malignant way, at worst.
The fight back is a loser…this battle (to regain lost ground) will not be won at the ballot box or, e-mails to the enemy, or the internet (great tool) WITHOUT a massive out pouring of independent thinking and actions separate from the House or Senate floor. Virginia is a surprise, to some degree–still looking for the hook.
Counter attacks are designed to stop losing ground and to regain the initiative toward a victory, that is, to defeat “our” opponents, all of them. This critical battle is far from over, it is neither a retreat or surrender. it’s a regrouping to orgnize and mount a counter-attack with and for the 99%. The odds are with us so long as we stay independent. This is not just about arguing a bill, that may have merits, it’s about building a movement that challenges “their apparatus” every day. Toxic waste (anti-democratic forces) must be neutralized, contained and then disposed.

Reply

avatar Frank Gormlie March 1, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Good points – it’s best to stay independent, but also to search for and work with allies.

Reply

avatar rick trujillo March 2, 2012 at 7:35 am

Thanks for your reply Frank, it is why I stick with the Rag, always have. It is the progressive wing–there are millions–of the Democratic Party that needs accommodating not the Republicans in bi-partisan fashion. It is they who are losing faith, and for good reason(s)–but as I stated, this is regroup time, not retreat or surrender. How to organize the fightback is the big Q and there is not a whole lot of time.
This much, I think , you will agree is true. In our Southwest, the residents before Columbus or the Union Army were somewhat of an organized state. We are still here with common cultural ties south of the Alamo—-thousands of years of history. just like our Irish in the north of Ireland. Talk about zero civil rights.
What do us, the older and newer (wage slave) residents, in Aztlan (arpaio & co. shudder at this unifying name), of all nationalities, seek, today? Just about everything our sisters and brothers, in Ocean Beach seek. It’s not about comparing wounds or books (thoroughly researched and true on exploitation)
it’s about honoring the planet, and simply caring for each other in creative civil discourse. this is threatened by fleas who need the National Guard to enforce NDAA. that’s what’s afoot. None of us Chicano’s fear arpaio. We ran him out of town twice–that’s a fact. the cops guarding him (arpaio and his pulgas in Scottsdale or Vail or SD, or Tuscon), the ones beating our allies at Civic Center, were our primary concern——we have learned our history and most have shed ultra-left baggage to build common ranks. This fightback offers enormous possibilities, for unity. Community to community, there is much to yet accomplish. How about banning Tasers, altogether?

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avatar Deborah Stone March 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Great article and let’s keep on fighting the good fight!

Reply

avatar Christine Schanes March 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Frank,

Wonderful, wonderful article about a terrible, terrible law. Thank you for being vigilant and protective of our Bill of Rights.
Christine

Reply

avatar Shahid Buttar March 2, 2012 at 10:49 am

Great to see your organizing on the ground! Let us know if you need any help connecting with allies in SF, LA, Berkeley and Humboldt. I sent an email to Frank last week and know the LA and SF crews were both planning activities this week. Finally, if you’re willing for your contact info to appear publicly for others as a point of local contact, please submit your campaign for our forthcoming interactive website: http://constitutioncampaign.org/campaigns/dueprocess/submit.php.

Keep up your inspiring work!

Shahid

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