The National Defense Authorization Act of FY2012 (NDAA) has taken the nation by storm with its intended application of the keyword “authorization.” The Act enables military force against American citizens, presumably on American soil, while further allowing indefinite detention of citizens without first applying the due process of law. Conservatives led the outcry against the Senate’s bi-partisan plan to remove rights from the people by drawing attention to sections 1031, 1032 and 1033 of the Act that specifically authorize military detainment of civilian personnel subjectively linked to al-Qaeda and Taliban terror efforts. The NDAA sections encompassing indefinite detention contradict themselves on the bearing the Act will actually have on American citizens; to which a waiver policy ensures anyone selected by government can be apprehended by both an increasingly militarized police force and the U.S. military itself. The implications on the NDAA are far more reaching then most realize.
Appropriate loss in Obama Administration trust
The sense of trust lost with the Obama Administration has come with good reason. Many were alarmed when President Obama stood before the U.S. Constitution and very succinctly declared how he would seek to circumvent the U.S. Constitution in order to essentially legalize indefinite detention. The Obama Administration raised even more concerns when defining Right Wing Extremists to include military veterans and further linking the two with word “terrorist.”[i] Conservatives embracing personal liberty were taken back by the back-room tactics utilized by the Obama Administration in the “transparent” handling of the Patient Protection and Affordable Patient Care Act.[ii] For many, America was rapidly spiraling into a nation whose Constitution was a mere afterthought. Concerns were raised over the Pentagon’s program providing local law enforcement agencies with military grade equipment.[iii] Thursday, the White House released its new homegrown terror strategy that further blurs the authority of local law enforcement missions and that of full blown militarization agianst civilian personnel.[iv] The NDAA only validates suspicions harbored against the Obama Administration.
New dimension of Obama’s kill list
Many Americans were also called to alarm by the disclosure of President Obama’s “kill list.”[v] The notion that the U.S. Government would select an American citizen to execute without due process, awakened Americans to the plausibility of living under a government without the protections of constitutional rights.
U.S. done attacks on American soil
A once far-fetched notion was that of U.S. military drones patrolling, tracking and targeting citizens over American skies; a notion that is rapidly coming to fruition.[vi] The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued some 266 active testing permits for civilian drones to fly over U.S. skies.[vii] Police departments in Florida, Texas, and Minnesota have expressed interest in the technology citing it will greatly aid in the apprehension of fleeing criminals while further increasing public safety during criminal pursuit efforts.
FAA officials have limited the permits to testing and have not issued permits to fly over national airways due to concerns drones currently lack adequate detect, sense and avoidance technology to mitigate midair collision risks. Despite this current FAA limitation, drone technology proponents insist drone activity will soon be a part a of every American’s life. Wired at War author, Peter W. Singer makes this very clear. “But the technology is here. And it isn’t going away. It will increasingly play a role in our lives. The real question is: How do we deal with it?” This ideology is fully backed by the Aerospace Industries Association. “It’s going to happen,” said Dan Elwell, vice president of civil aviation at the Aerospace Industries Association. “Now it’s about figuring out how to safely assimilate the technology into national airspace.”
Americans leery of an ever encroaching government that has now established a precedent of executing American citizens through its utilization of military drones, are concerned the elevation in local police forces to combat suspected terrorist activity coupled with the Senate’s proposal to authorize the U.S. military against civilians without due process, equates to military drone strikes on U.S. soil. The Obama Administration’s cavalier rationalization that it easier to kill a U.S. citizen than it was to attempt to capture him also sets an alarming precedent.[viii] If the Senate plan were to be signed into law unchanged; it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when the first strike on domestic soil will occur as American’s right to due process is effectively stripped by the Senate’s Act. Moreover, the Senate, through its voting down the attempt to specifically exclude American citizens on U.S. soil from being subjected to military detainment or attack, demonstrates their willingness to forgo constitutional rights in order to advance their agenda.
Veto schools of thought
President Obama has made clear his intent to veto the Senate’s Act. Many have found a sense of comfort in the idea of a well utilized veto. As fitting a veto may be, the two schools of thought on President Obama’s rationale to veto the Act are not centered on a presidential intervention in the name of the preservation of personal liberty. The first and more sophomoric speculation is the Act’s detainee provisions would grant a detained U.S. citizen Prisoner of War status. This would grant the detainee rights and protections under the Geneva Convention. The claim is that the Act would forcibly deter the Obama Administration’s suspected pattern of torturing captured terrorists abroad in CIA prisons. [ix],[x]
A more academic school of thought shares the ideology that a veto is not in defense of loss of personal rights, but differs in that a would-be veto is designed to thwart a loss of governmental secrecy. A person detained in a manner as perscribed in the Act could seek a habeas corpus hearing before a federal judge. This would require the federal government to prove the association between the detainee and the Taliban or al-Qaeda forcing the government to either release secret information that could hinder a larger anti-terrorism effort, or allow the detainee to be released to safeguard such information.
While President Obama’s presumed motivation to veto the Senate’s NDAA remains unclear, the loss of rights the Act represents is only a concern when it impacts the Office of the President as evident by Executive Office of the President’s Statement of Administration Policy in regards to the NDAA.
The Executive Office of the President did express constitutional concerns over S. 1867.[xi] It is their contention that sections 223 and 1241 would compel the President into a position of transparency in that diplomatic communications would have to be shared beyond that of the closed door meetings in the White House. This, the Executive Office claims, would infringe on the Constitutional rights of the Office of the President of the United States as the Office would be required to adhere to a larger order under the Act. The Office also dissented from sections 1031, 1032 and 1033; again, because it is felt the Act infringed upon the Government’s rights through the Act’s forced release of information by the Obama Administration, forced adherence to international law, while further claiming detention sections of the Act micro-manage government’s anti-terrorism and counterintelligence assets. Disappointingly, the rights removed from the people are simply not an issue.
What has become apparent, the Democrat Party has united with the Republican Party to aggressively remove the rights of the people while advancing a police state agenda against their own constituents. The Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act shared 48 Democrat aye votes and 44 Republican aye votes.[xii] Senators who once stood against the Act’s infringement on personal rights, ultimately voted in favor of the loss of rights. “Please know that I am committed to ensuring that our nation has the appropriate tools to combat terrorism, and committed to upholding our fundamental constitutional rights.” Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote before voting in support of the Act.[xiii]
Conservative voters, fueled by a renewed vigor for individual liberty, dissented most aggressively from the Act highlighting the blatant disregard for personal liberty and infringement of rights contained in sections 1031, 1032 and 1033 of the Act. It is felt these sections authorize indefinite detention of American citizens without due process. Many Republican voters will be both alarmed and disappointed to learn that one of their own was the key architect of the detainee provision that has directly resulted in their dissent. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was not only instrumental in turning the National Defense Authorization Act against the people; he was a key element in gathering Republican support for the Act with his detainee clause. Criticisms against the detainee sections were vehemently countered by the Senator. “The idea that an American citizen helping al Qaeda doesn’t get due process is just a lie,” Graham said.[xiv] However, other Senators openly expressed concerns that these same sections represented a direct assault on personal rights while further attempting to add a provision exempting U.S. citizens on American soil; the amendment failed 45 – 55.[xv]
The nation’s political elite whom support the Act and its detention clauses claim section 1032 will not be used against American citizens. However, section 1033 reads in such a manner enabling a waiver process to expand the Act’s reach to anyone the political elite deem as a threat to national security as cited in sections 1031 and 1032. Nowhere does the Act contain verbiage that expressly protects the rights of American citizens when facing militarized force as authorized by the Act. Not surprisingly, the Act is laden with such contradictions that can be used against American citizens – elements of the Act authored by the Right’s political class.
It is important to note at this point, the NDAA’s lack of popularity is driven by a sound conservative movement to return a sense of constitutionalism to America. The Republican disconnect is simple; conservative voters resoundingly support politicians whom lack the expressed values of their voters. Perhaps this most evident in the failed Herman Cain who enjoyed unprecedented Tea Party support, despite his overt lack of support of constitutional political theory and personal liberty.[xvi] The Left is highly faulted for the Act as it was authored by Carl Levin, D-MI. [xvii] The irony is equally simple; it is the Right that is not only attacking personal rights in this Act, but leading a unified support for the loss of personal rights at the hand of the Democrat written Act. The Republican elected class could not be further disconnected from their voter base than they currently are today. This phenomenon largely exists because the Republican voter continually votes in direct denial of their own values. Until this behavior is corrected, and Republican voters grow strong enough in character to openly discuss the shortcomings in their Party, the gap between Republican voters and the Republican elected elite will only widen and hinder all American progression towards individual freedom.
[i] N.A. Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division. Coordinated with the FBI. Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment. 04 09, 2011. [Cited 12 07, 2011].
[ii]Johnson, Paul E. The Repeal of Health Care Reform. Suite101.com [Online]. 01 19, 2011. [Cited 12 09, 2011]. http://paul-johnson.suite101.com/the-repeal-of-health-care-reform-a334774
[iii] Newman, Alex. U.S. Military Program Arming Local Police Expands. TheNewAmerican.com [Online]. 12 07, 2011. [Cited 12 07, 2011].
[iv] Madhani, Aamer. White House unveils new strategy to combat homegrown terror. USAToday.com[Online]. 12 08, 2011.[Cited 12 08, 2011]. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2011/12/white-house-unveils-new-strategy-to-combat-homegrown-terror/1?loc=interstitialskip
[v] Jackson, David. Obama panel can put Americans on ‘kill list’. USAToday.com [Online] 10 09, 2011. [Cited 12 08, 2011]. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2011/10/obama-panel-can-put-americans-on-kill-list/1
[vi] Whitehead, John W. Drones Over America: Tyranny at Home NJToday.net. [Online] 06 30, 2010. [Cited: 12 07, 2011.] http://njtoday.net/2010/06/30/drones-over-america-tyranny-at-home/
[vii] Hennigan, W.J. Drones could patrol in U.S., FAA says. Newsobserver.com [online] 11 29, 2011. [Cited: 12 07, 2011.] http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/11/29/1677472/drones-could-patrol-in-us-faa.html
[viii] N.A. EDITORIAL: Obama’s killing of U.S. citizens. WashimgtonTimes.com [Online]. 10 11, 2011. [Cited 12 07, 2011].http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/oct/11/obamas-killing-of-us-citizens/
[ix] Cole, Matthew., Ross, Brian.EXCLUSIVE: CIA Secret ‘Torture’ Prison Found at Fancy Horseback Riding Academy.ABCNews.com [Online]. 11 09, 2009. [Cited 12 08, 2011].http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/cia-secret-prison-found/story?id=9115978#.TugK0NX4JPI
[x] Kelly, John. Obama’s secret CIA torture prison, same as it ever was. DailyKos.com [Online]. 07 16, 2011. [Cited 12 09, 2011]. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/07/16/995265/-Obamas-secret-CIA-torture-prison,-same-as-it-ever-was
[xi] N.A. Executive Office of the President. Statement of Administration Policy, S. 1867 – National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012. WhiteHouse.gov [Online]. 11 17, 2011. [Cited 12 06, 2011]. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/112/saps1867s_20111117.pdf
[xii] Levin, Carl. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. OpenCongress.org. [Online] N.D. [Cited 12 07, 2011]. http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-s1867/show
[xiii] American Civil Liberties Union Petition.Tell the Senate to Pass the Feinstein Amendment. ACLU.org [Online]. N.D. [Cited 12 09, 2011]. https://secure.aclu.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=3865
[xiv] Kasperowicz, Pete. Effort to ease detainee language faces harsh bipartisan opposition in Senate. TheHill.com [Online]. 11 29. 2011. [Cited 12 07, 2011. http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/195903-effort-to-ease-detainee-language-faces-harsh-bipartisan-opposition-in-senate
[xv] Lopez, Ralph. Why Obama Will Not Veto NDAA Military Detention of Americans: He Requested It. OpEdNews.com [online]. 12 11, 2011. [Cited 12 12, 2011]. http://www.opednews.com/articles/Why-Obama-Will-Not-Veto-ND-by-Ralph-Lopez-111210-198.html
[xvi] Pye, Jason. Herman Cain would trade liberty for security. Unitedliberty.org. [Online] 05 25, 2011. [Cited: 05 25, 2100.]http://www.unitedliberty.org/articles/8150-herman-cain-would-trade-liberty-for-security.
[xvii] Levin, Carl. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. OpenCongress.org. [Online] N.D. [Cited 12 07, 2011]. http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-s1867/show