January 20, 2012
“More proof Ron Paul needs to be president. He took a break from the campaign to speak out against the NDAA in congress.” –KTRN
Ron Paul took a day off from the campaign trail on Wednesday, not to pause from politics, but to urge his colleagues on Capitol Hill to overturn the provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that allows indefinite detention for Americans.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or the NDAA, was inked by President Barack Obama on New Year’s Eve, despite immense opposition from Americans who were concerned by vague language that could allow the commander-in-chief to use military forces to domestically police the United States. Under Section 1021 of the NDAA, any person, US citizen or not, can be held without trial by American armed forces if they are suspected of being engaged in hostilities against the country by al-Qaeda or associated forces.
Opponents of the act — and there are many — have questioned the language of the specific section, as it could be written to allow the president to enforce the law to imprison anyone suspected of any crime that could be considered by the right person in office to be an act of terror. President Obama said that he would not abide by this rule, but despite a signing statement that his administration won’t act in that manner, it does not mean that the promise will be upheld.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero called Obama’s approval of the legislation is “a blight on his legacy,” insisting that “he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” and the Council on American-Islamic Relations called the bill an “ill-conceived and un-American legislation” that will “forever be seen as a stain on our nation’s history — one that will ultimately be viewed with embarrassment and shame.” Additionally, this week RT reported that noted journalist Chris Hedges has filed a lawsuit against the White House over the legislation, questioning the legality of the authorization and calling it “a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.”
On Wednesday this week, however, Ron Paul spoke from Capitol Hill, not South Carolina where the rest of his Republican Party rivals were campaigning before the state’s primary scheduled for this weekend. While in Washington to vote against raising the debt ceiling, Congressman Ron Paul also used the opportunity to go after Obama for signing the NDAA and offered a proposal that, if passed, would strike Section 1031 off the Act.
Journalist Chris Hedges Sues Obama Admin over Indefinite Detention of U.S. Citizens Approved in NDAA
January 18, 2012
“This is awesome. Chris Hedges should be given an award for his bravery.” –KTRN
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges has filed suit against President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes controversial provisions authorizing the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world, without charge or trial. Sections of the bill are written so broadly that critics say they could encompass journalists who report on terror-related issues, such as Hedges, for supporting enemy forces. “It’s clearly unconstitutional,” Hedges says of the bill. “It is a huge and egregious assault against our democracy. It overturns over 200 years of law, which has kept the military out of domestic policing.” We speak with Hedges, now a senior fellow at the Nation Institute and former New York Times foreign correspondent who was part of a team of reporters that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism. We are also joined by Hedges’ attorney Carl Mayer, who filed the litigation on his behalf in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. [includes rush transcript]
January 16, 2012
By Jonathan Turley
“Wouldn’t it be amazing if we were really free? –KTRN
Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.
Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?
While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of “free,” but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit.
These countries also have constitutions that purport to guarantee freedoms and rights. But their governments have broad discretion in denying those rights and few real avenues for challenges by citizens — precisely the problem with the new laws in this country.
The list of powers acquired by the U.S. government since 9/11 puts us in rather troubling company.
Assassination of U.S. citizens
President Obama has claimed, as President George W. Bush did before him, the right to order the killing of any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism. Last year, he approved the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaqi and another citizen under this claimed inherent authority. Last month, administration officials affirmed that power, stating that the president can order the assassination of any citizen whom he considers allied with terrorists. (Nations such as Nigeria, Iran and Syria have been routinely criticized for extrajudicial killings of enemies of the state.)
Under the law signed last month, terrorism suspects are to be held by the military; the president also has the authority to indefinitely detain citizens accused of terrorism. While the administration claims that this provision only codified existing law, experts widely contest this view, and the administration has opposed efforts to challenge such authority in federal courts. The government continues to claim the right to strip citizens of legal protections based on its sole discretion. (China recently codified a more limited detention law for its citizens, while countries such as Cambodia have been singled out by the United States for “prolonged detention.”)
The president now decides whether a person will receive a trial in the federal courts or in a military tribunal, a system that has been ridiculed around the world for lacking basic due process protections. Bush claimed this authority in 2001, and Obama has continued the practice. (Egypt and China have been denounced for maintaining separate military justice systems for selected defendants, including civilians.)
The president may now order warrantless surveillance, including a new capability to force companies and organizations to turn over information on citizens’ finances, communications and associations. Bush acquired this sweeping power under the Patriot Act in 2001, and in 2011, Obama extended the power, including searches of everything from business documents to library records. The government can use “national security letters” to demand, without probable cause, that organizations turn over information on citizens — and order them not to reveal the disclosure to the affected party. (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan operate under laws that allow the government to engage in widespread discretionary surveillance.)
The government now routinely uses secret evidence to detain individuals and employs secret evidence in federal and military courts. It also forces the dismissal of cases against the United States by simply filing declarations that the cases would make the government reveal classified information that would harm national security — a claim made in a variety of privacy lawsuits and largely accepted by federal judges without question. Even legal opinions, cited as the basis for the government’s actions under the Bush and Obama administrations, have been classified. This allows the government to claim secret legal arguments to support secret proceedings using secret evidence. In addition, some cases never make it to court at all. The federal courts routinely deny constitutional challenges to policies and programs under a narrow definition of standing to bring a case.
The world clamored for prosecutions of those responsible for waterboarding terrorism suspects during the Bush administration, but the Obama administration said in 2009 that it would not allow CIA employees to be investigated or prosecuted for such actions. This gutted not just treaty obligations but the Nuremberg principles of international law. When courts in countries such as Spain moved to investigate Bush officials for war crimes, the Obama administration reportedly urged foreign officials not to allow such cases to proceed, despite the fact that the United States has long claimed the same authority with regard to alleged war criminals in other countries. (Various nations have resisted investigations of officials accused of war crimes and torture. Some, such as Serbia and Chile, eventually relented to comply with international law; countries that have denied independent investigations include Iran, Syria and China.)
The government has increased its use of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has expanded its secret warrants to include individuals deemed to be aiding or abetting hostile foreign governments or organizations. In 2011, Obama renewed these powers, including allowing secret searches of individuals who are not part of an identifiable terrorist group. The administration has asserted the right to ignore congressional limits on such surveillance. (Pakistan places national security surveillance under the unchecked powers of the military or intelligence services.)
January 2, 2012
By Mike Adams
“Obama saying he will not enforce the part of the NDAA that mentions Americans being detained is a joke. Let’s just say he keeps his word, who is to say the next president won’t use this part of the law? Get it?” –KTRN
In the aftermath of the signing of the NDAA by the traitorous President Obama, some citizens remain completely hoodwinked by the language of the bill, running around the internet screaming that the law “does not apply to American citizens.”
This is, naturally, part of the side effect of having such a dumbed-down education system where people can’t even parse the English language anymore. If you read the bill and understand what it says, it clearly offers absolutely no protections of U.S. citizens. In fact, it affirms that Americans are subjected to indefinite detainment under “existing authorities.”
Let’s parse it intelligently, shall we?
First off, the offending section of the bill that used to be called 1031 was moved to 1021. Here is the title:
SEC. 1021. AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.
The two relevant sections to consider are titled and stated as follows;
(d) CONSTRUCTION. — Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
By PARSING the language here, we must split it into two sentences based on the “or” operator. This statement essentially means:
• Nothing in this section is intended to LIMIT the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
• Nothing in this section is intended to EXPAND the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
In other words, this section places no limits whatsoever of the “authority of the President” to use military force (against American citizens). Keep that in mind as you read the next section:
(e) AUTHORITIES. — Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.
January 2, 2012
By Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones
“The USA is now a true police state – thanks Obama.” –KTRN
Barack Obama’s signing statement that was added to the passage of the NDAA bill in an effort to dampen concerns over the ‘indefinite detention’ provision of the bill is smoke and mirrors for a number of reasons – prime amongst them the fact that it was the White House itself – not lawmakers – who demanded Section 1031 be expanded to empower the government to detain U.S. citizens without trial.
On first reading, Obama’s signing statement appears to assuage fears that American citizens could be targeted for arrest and detention without trial.
“My administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens … Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation,” wrote Obama.
However, the statement is meaningless for a number of reasons.
Firstly, even if Obama manages to fulfil one of the rare occasions on which he keeps his word, this does nothing to stop future administrations from exercising the power to indefinitely detain American citizens without trial.
Secondly, the Obama administration is already carrying out even more egregious measures than those supposedly authorized within the NDAA, by targeting American citizens worldwide for state-sponsored assassination with no legal process whatsoever.
December 23, 2011
If you’re upset that congressional approval of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 can send you away to military prisons and be tortured in America, don’t worry — it could be worse.
The US could send you somewhere else.
No, really. They could. And they can. Anywhere else, too. Really.
While the bill that left Capitol Hill last week and awaits authorization from US President Barack Obama allows for the United States to indefinitely detain and torture American citizens suspected of aiding enemy forces, one provision in the bill specifies that that detention doesn’t necessarily have to occur domestically — nor does it have to be in a foreign prison run by the US.
The ongoing detention of foreign terror suspects at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has been a hot topic since the War on Terror began, with American military authorities torturing could-be criminals without ever bringing them to trial. An exposé years earlier on the Abu Ghraib facility in Iraq revealed how American troops were subjecting detainees to disgusting, inhumane conditions; conditions which left some dead without ever going to trial. While Abu Ghraib has since been shut down, Guantanamo Bay continues to hold suspected criminals despite a promise to Obama to shut it down.
When the commander-in-chief inks his name to NDAA FY2012, Americans can be on their way to the same torture cells that have kept al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked terrorists for the last decade. It’s now been revealed, however, that US citizens and anyone suspected of a crime against America can be sent all over the world.
Under the legislation, the president has the power to transfer suspected terrorists “to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.”
China? Sure. Iran? Why not! North Korea? That’s a possibility too. David Glazier, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, tells Mother Jones that this was an authority that the president has had before, but only under the new NDAA is the legislation endorsed and insured that it could be applied to Americans.
December 20, 2011
By Aaron Cynic
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 breezed through Congress and headed to the White House, even though public opposition to parts of the bill, now directed at President Obama in the hope of a hail Mary veto, remains strong. The most troubling aspects of the bill violate fundamental rights provided in the U.S. Constitution to American citizens by giving the government sweeping power to indefinitely detain citizens without trial. Like many other pieces of legislation, this year’s NDAA is another push in a long series of movements marching the U.S. Towards a hard right, nearly fascist state.
In addition to this, the NDAA also contains troubling language regarding Department of Defense interests in Iran, China, Wikileaks, defense contractors and more. A report from a conference on the NDAA contains tough talk in respect to both China and Iran. Considering the amount of saber rattling many warhawks have already engaged in, one has to wonder seriously whether the U.S. Could further engage in military actions towards Iran and what exactly, the DOD believes our attitude towards the Chinese will be in the coming year. The bill contains an amendment which requires economic sanctions towards entities in Iran as well as a provision for “an independent review of current U.S. Capability gaps to counter Iran and China” (emphasis mine). The conference report also says it “takes steps to ensure that the United States is fully prepared to defend our vital interests against an emerging competitor” in regards to China.
Given the information dumps from Wikileaks over past two years, as well as the horrid treatment of Private Bradley Manning, on trial for providing information to Wikileaks, the Pentagon is very interested in keeping other potential whistleblowers at bay. The Defense Department’s research arm already expressed interest this year in employing a disinformation campaign against would be Wikileakers. The NDAA conference report codifies that interest, saying it:
Requires the Secretary of Defense to establish a comprehensive program to detect unauthorized uses of classified information. Requires technological solutions, updated policies and procedures, and enforcement measures to assist with detection of such unauthorized activities.
December 15, 2011
By Paul Joseph Watson
“It’s a sad day in US history when the government doesn’t see a problem with detaining its own citizens without a trial.” -KTRN
Obama has dropped his threat to veto the bill and is now expected to sign it into law. Remember – it was Obama’s White House that demanded the law apply to U.S. citizens in the first place.
The bill which would codify into law the indefinite detention without trial of American citizens is about to be passed and sent to Obama’s desk to be signed into law, even as some news outlets still erroneously report that the legislation does not apply to U.S. citizens.
“The House on Wednesday afternoon approved the rule for the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), setting up an hour of debate and a vote in the House later this afternoon,” reports the Hill.
Mainstream news outlets like The Hill, as well as neo-con blogs like Red State, are still pretending the indefinite detention provision doesn’t apply to American citizens, even though three of the bill’s primary sponsors, Senator Carl Levin, Senator John McCain, and Senator Lindsey Graham, said it does during speeches on the Senate floor.
“It is not unfair to make an American citizen account for the fact that they decided to help Al Qaeda to kill us all and hold them as long as it takes to find intelligence about what may be coming next,” remarked Graham. “And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them, ‘Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.’”
As Levin said last week, it was the White House itself that demanded Section 1031 apply to American citizens.
December 2, 2011
By Paul Joseph Watson
Two new amendments that would attempt to halt the indefinite detention of American citizens on U.S. soil under a section of the National Defense Authorization Act have been introduced and could be voted on by the end of the day, even as Obama administration lawyers reaffirmed their backing for state sponsored assassination of U.S. citizens.
Ron Paul’s Campaign For Liberty website has the details.
Senate Amendment (SA) 1126 would “clarify” Section 1031 to explicitly state within the section that the authority of the military to detain persons without trial until the end of hostilities does not apply to American citizens.
SA 1125 would limit the mandatory detention provision in Section 1032 to persons captured abroad, not in America.
However, given the fact that a previous amendment which merely sought to provide oversight for the egregious Section 1031 of the NDAA bill was voted down comprehensively yesterday, getting these two new amendments passed seems a tall order.
Indeed, despite some expressing confidence that Obama will veto the NDAA bill because of the indefinite detention provision, the Obama administration today reaffirmed the notion that it considers American citizens as legitimate targets for state assassination in the war on terror.
More critical voices have warned that the passage of the bill would hand the federal government unprecedented powers on the scale of Stalinist North Korea, which routinely imprisons political dissidents in concentration camps, having first declared them enemies of the state, of course.
November 30, 2011
By Paul Joseph Watson
“John McCain is not American. Anyone who wrote a bill suggesting that American citizens could be held indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay is out of touch with reality.” –KTRN
Senator Rand Paul told Judge Andrew Napolitano last night that Americans could be stripped of their rights and sent to Guantanamo Bay under the terms of the ‘indefinite detention’ provision of the National Defense Authorization Act set to be passed by the Senate this week.
Appearing on Napolitano’s Fox Business show, Paul said it perplexed him “how anyone could vote to send an American citizen who’s been accused of a crime to a detention center in a foreign land without due process”.
Paul has offered an amendment to the NDAA bill that would completely strip Section 1031 from the legislation, although it’s unlikely to pass following yesterday’s rejection of Senator Mark Udall’s weaker amendment that would have merely provided more oversight.
The Senator said that he had spoken with other Republicans who had pointed out the numerous instances where the Constitution specifically mentions the right to a speedy trial, habeas corpus and legal due process, all of which would be completely eviscerated with the passage of the ‘indefinite detention’ provision of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Republican supporters of the bill are citing Supreme Court cases to justify the provision that don’t even validate their argument. As Napolitano pointed out, even a saboteur for the Nazis during World War II was allowed to have a trial because he was an American citizen and had innate rights that could not be stripped away.