Congresswoman Susan Davis’ Office gets “Occupied” by Activists Protesting Defense Bill

by on December 20, 2011 · 20 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Politics, Popular, San Diego

By Nadin Abbott / December 19th, 2011

Members of a coalition of Democrats, Occupy San Diego, Move-On and other liberal groups, took over Congresswoman Susan Davis’ (D) office today to protest of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. They first drove to the Clairemont Mesa Office of the Democratic Party, where they intended to stage a sit-in, but the office was locked and a sign on the door indicated they would be holding limited hours during the holidays. Before they left the Clairemont Mesa area several people spoke, while the protesters held signs that were received well by drivers. Among them was Mr. Dick Eiden, running as an Independent against Congressman Darrell Issa (R-49th District.) He invited protesters to get involved in his campaign, since his intention is to “Occupy Congress.”

Mr. Joe Howard Crews from Fallbrook, brought his voter registration form, he is ready to switch party affiliation from Democrat to Decline to State, given this Bill and its attack on civil rights. Another Fallbrook resident has been a registered Democrat all his voting life and a party activist, and he is ready to do the same. Both were members of Veterans for Peace.

Frank Gormlie explained to all why they called for the sit in. The National Defense Authorization Act has two provisions, these are 1031 and 1032. According to him they will lead to a “police state,” since they will allow for the indefinite detainment of US Citizens on US soil. He emphasized that this could happen “just for lying to a Federal Officer.” He also emphasized that according to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) Provision 1031 designates the United States as part of the territory under jurisdiction for the Global War on Terror. He also mentioned that these provisions are problematic for the American Civil Liberties Union, for the reasons he stated.

According to Mr. Gormlie these two sections “will destroy the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment. They will remove the rights to trial, to avoid self incrimination, and could lead to troops arresting people in the Continental United States. They will also remove “the right to public trial and reasonable bails.” It is also an indirect attack on the First Amendment, and a direct attack on the right of Habeas Corpus. This right, translating to bringing or presenting the body, goes all the way back to the Magna Carta in Medieval England, and guarantees the right of the accused to be presented with his accusers and the court. If this Bill is signed, according to Mr. Gormlie, we will lose these fundamental citizen rights.

Several other speakers spoke to the crowd of about twenty people, including long time party activist, Gregg Robinson, that wants the party to get a backbone and start saying no to these disastrous laws. Among those present was John Kenney, who has now stopped his hunger strike. He also emphasized how disastrous this bill is to US Citizens. He emphasized that this would be damaging to the People of the United States in ways that continue the war on our civil rights started with the United States Patriot Act.

After arriving at Susan Davis’ San Diego headquarters, the group crowded into the small office. The staff seemed surprised that they came, but once the protesters sat down they were admonished to leave the passageway clear due to Fire Regulations. Mr. Kenney reminded the staff that “we are traditionally aligned with the democratic party, like Move On. Progressives for America and Occupy San Diego.” That “we are Susan Davis’ people.” They also emphasized that this was  a peaceful protest.

Moreover, one of the Occupiers suggested that the timing of this was extraordinary and that he wondered if this was related to the rise of the Occupy movement. Another said “when I voted for Obama I thought he’d follow the example of Martin Luther King. I’d like Obama to explain himself to California Students,” after the pepper spraying of students at UC Davis. Most of those present were very disappointed with the President and the Congresswoman for the course they have taken.

The staff promised to give them an official statement. This was done by the office of the Congresswoman, after consultations with the Washington Office. There were no arrests.

All photos by Nadin Abbott

EDITOR: The following is this statement by Congresswoman Davis that was sent to us late yesterday.

Congresswoman Susan A. Davis

Representing the 53rd District in San Diego, California

For Immediate Release
December 19, 2011

Contact: Aaron Hunter

Statement for National Defense Authorization Act Demonstration

“Thank you for visiting my office today and bringing your concerns to my attention. I am currently working in Washington DC and therefore cannot speak to you personally.

“The National Defense Authorization Act passed both chambers under the regular legislative process. Included in this bill were provisions dealing with military custody of terrorist suspects. These provisions are not in any way intended to restrict the habeas rights of American citizens or limit the ability of Americans to exercise their constitutional rights.

“In fact, this bill explicitly exempts U.S. citizens from any changes to current law. Section 1022 states that, “The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.”

“I share your concerns and would not have voted for this bill if I felt the basic rights and freedoms of Americans were being limited or removed. I supported the defense bill because of the positive impact it will have on our national defense, our local economy, and on our men and women in uniform.”

“I appreciate you being here today and making your voices heard. My staff has related your concerns to me and I will continue to keep them in mind in my work in Washington. “

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie December 20, 2011 at 10:26 am

Thanks for the pictures and info on what happened Monday. I appreciate what you all are doing.

Frank, Nadin, anyone – is what Susan Davis said true? That the bill specifically exempts US citizens? Or is there some vital asterisk she’s leaving out?


Joe Howard Crews December 22, 2011 at 3:00 am

ANNIE – You inquired if what Susan Davis said true, i.e., “That the bill specifically excempt US citizens?”
Here is the analysis of an expert, Joanne Mariner, director of Hunter College’s Human Rights Program:
“Subtitle D of the NDAA
“What is now known as Subtitle D of the NDAA—the section on detention—made its first appearance in March of this year. Called the Detainee Security Act in the House, and the Military Detainee Procedures Improvement Act in the Senate, the bills, introduced by Representative Buck McKeon and Senator John McCain, respectively, were meant to shift counterterrorism responsibilities from law enforcement to the military. The clear goal of the two bills was to require that suspected terrorists either be tried before military commissions or be held in indefinite detention without charge.

“By May, the House version of the bill had been added to the NDAA, a $662 billion spending bill that finances the military’s annual operations. It passed by a vote of 322-96, even as President Obama issued a veto threat, complaining that the bill improperly limited the government’s ability to fight terrorism effectively.

“The Senate version of the bill, which also became part of the NDAA, passed in November on an overwhelming 93-7 vote. Prior to the Senate’s passage of the bill, nearly every government official with responsibility over counterterrorism, from FBI head Robert Mueller to CIA director David Petraeus, had voiced concerns that the bill would have a negative impact on US counterterrorism efforts.

“President Obama again issued a veto threat after the Senate vote, but as soon as the bill was modified slightly during the process of reconciling its House and Senate versions, the threat was dropped. The final version of the bill passed both houses of Congress last week with large majorities.

Substance and Procedure in the NDAA:
“Subtitle D of the NDAA consists of twelve sections, covering issues that range from the military’s power over detention to technical amendments to the Military Commissions Act of 2009. Overall, the thrust of its provisions is to create a presumption of military jurisdiction over terrorism suspects, expand post-hoc congressional scrutiny of decisions over the detention and prosecution of such suspects, and effectively prevent Guantanamo from being closed.

“Rather than establishing categorical rules to achieve these ends, however, the bill mostly relies on an array of procedural techniques like reporting, briefing and certification requirements. The substantive rules that it does establish are, in large part, qualified by waiver options and other potential loopholes.

“Nonetheless, nearly every provision in subtitle D is objectionable from the standpoint of human rights and civil liberties. Among the controversial provisions are sections 1026, 1027 and 1028 of the bill, which restrict detainee transfers and releases from Guantanamo. But while human rights organizations are worried about these limitations, their gravest concerns pertain to sections 1021 and 1022.

“Sections 1021 and 1022:
It is sections 1021 and 1022 that human rights organizations have in mind when they say that the NDAA enshrines indefinite detention without charge into US law.

“Section 1021 purports to “affirm” the military’s authority to hold people in indefinite detention without charge pursuant to the AUMF. Although the original House version of the bill would have stated explicitly that the US continues to be in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated groups, the final version of the bill is somewhat more circumspect.

“Section 1022 takes a subset of the persons possibly subject to military detention under section 1021—focusing essentially on persons with a stronger connection to terrorism—and creates a presumption that they will be held in military detention.
The bad news is that, as passed, sections 1021 and 1022 represent clear congressional approval of what, up to now, has been solely the executive branch’s decision to hold people in indefinite detention without charge. (Remember that the AUMF itself was silent on detention questions.) Giving the practice a firm and explicit statutory grounding not only makes it less vulnerable to legal challenge, it may well make the practice more permanent.”


Trevor S December 20, 2011 at 11:31 am

outlines 3 of the “vital asterisks” that her office is indeed leaving out. The bill itself is contradictory, and though it states american citizens are “exempt”, it also explicitly codifies the US as a warzone and permits “detention without trial until the end of hostilities.”

It’s time for Susan Davis to step up and explain why she’s endorsing such a blightful and poorly written piece of legislation. If it’s out of fear of seeming weak on “terror”, then she should be far more afraid of her constituents for showing such a blatant disregard for the strength of their own civil liberties.


Annie December 20, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Thanks for the info, Trevor – very helpful. I’m really disappointed in Susan Davis, though that is no different than how I feel about most politicians right now.


Gordon Wagner December 20, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Our beloved leaders view us citizens as if we were ants, and I mean that literally.


nadin abbott December 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I just report…

And try to be as balanced about it as possible…

But I do have my concerns. As a trained historian the pattern over the last ten years has been all but not worrisome.


Frank Gormlie December 21, 2011 at 11:02 am

Thanks so much Nadin for reporting on our action on Monday. The Democratic Party HQ workers saw us coming, and slipped that “closed” sign on to get us to go away. Very cowardly on their part. They could have invited us in for coffee and doughnuts.


Nadin December 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm

You welcome. We live the Chinese Curse…

Coffee and doughnuts, now that be an interesting set of photos!



peter shilikov January 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Just out of curiosity, what is a “trained” historian?


Brandt Hardin December 20, 2011 at 12:19 pm

The NDAA only goes to further stifle our Constitutional Rights without the approval of the Americans, just as the Patriot Act was adopted WITHOUT public approval or vote just weeks after the events of 9/11. A mere 3 criminal charges of terrorism a year are attributed to this act, which is mainly used for no-knock raids leading to drug-related arrests without proper cause for search and seizure. The laws are simply a means to spy on our own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents without trial or a right to council. You can read much more about living in this Orwellian society of fear and see my visual response to these measures on my artist’s blog at


imominous December 20, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I will say only this. Regardless of what groups are “targeted” by this piece of totalitarian potential, our lawmakers are fond of playing with semantics.

Taxes become fees. Redefinition avoids legal problems. What is to keep my government from labeling me something I’m not, and then acting upon it?


S Robins December 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

What ever happened to Congress’ commitment to the constitution and to not pass anything unconstitutional? We are slowly but surely having our democracy disassembled by Coalitional Powers that do not represent the true interests of the people. Don’t fool yourselves into thinking a superpower like the USA can not collapse. Where would we all be then? Even the upper middle class would be out in the cold with nothing. Our money, investments, security and life as we know it would be destroyed and the World, not just the USA, would become totally chaotic with the greedy, alpha dogs taking advantage of anything and anyone they can.


unWASHEdwalmaRtthONG December 20, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I propose that we start all over from the grassroots up and write another constitution.
Remove the inequalities in the present document.
Remove the loopholes.
Remove the loopholes favoring the govorporation.
Remove the tax exempt status of so many organizations or . . .
Design a point of sale tax & remove some aspects of the income tax.
Strengthen the weak parts of the Constitution and create a parallel society that could overtake the present one in about two decades.
Start writing another one. Start w/ the present one as a template; use other docs, like Magna Carter, & strengthen & increase the rights of the populace.
From this point there is no where to go but up. The corruption, malfeasance, abuse of power inherent in the present govorporation has seen little equal in the past two centuries. We hear the words of the politicians, but they get the power & the money.
We the 99% get nearly nothing. Oh, I got a new cell phone last year when I resigned w/ Credo! almost forgot.


Dana Deima December 21, 2011 at 7:43 am

I am very proud of this group who ‘sat in’ and spoke their minds to Susan Davis; proud at a very ‘not so proud’ time in our history. Where is the rest of our citizenry?


RB December 21, 2011 at 8:01 am

Don’t blame Susan……..when has she ever had an original thought or position?


TRICIA December 21, 2011 at 10:47 am

Great job on this article.This is where I seem to be getting most of my local news.You guys are doing a great job


Dianne Lane December 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Thanks for the report on the sit-in. Sorry I was unable to attend. I guess it won’t be my last opportunity???


dorndiego December 22, 2011 at 9:01 am

Get up off your asses, everyone, the time has come. The NDAA this year establishes martial law. Gulp. Yes, it’s true.
Thank you OB Rag, for using Salon and the NYTimes to show us a bill with one weasely worded provision designed to lull people like Rep. Susan Davis, who essentially said after the default sit in at her office: “Well, the military isn’t REQUIRED to arrest us and throw away the key.” The rest of the provisions, as the Rag helpfully establishes, say clearly that the Armed Forces damn well CAN arrest us all. If you feel comfortable with a belief they never would, consider those who’ve received ominous letters from Homeland Security warning them they could be prosecuted for sending medical supplies to Iraqis. Consider that SD Police Department sent a minimum of four black and whites with cameras filming the 30 or so of us at the lights-out Demo HQ up on war-torn Clairemont Mesa Blvd. last Monday. “Whoopee, We’re All Going To Jail,” can be sung with conviction now because the War on Terror is not limited to Vietnam or Grenada or the Middle East or the Far Pacific any longer, it’s now being brought to a neighborhood near you by a Bi-Partisan Congress and a Democratic President.
Call the White House, sure, but call your friends first.


jim December 22, 2011 at 10:21 am

Ron Paul supporters, Move On, and Occupiers. Keep up the good work. Hold these so called Democrats feet to the fire. Obama’s lies regard reducing Military is more than I can stand. It is time for a President that does not identify with Napoleon.


Lois February 2, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Susan Davis seems to have an excuse and rationalization for everything. Especially loved her response 6 months later about my concerns for my unemployment problems.


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