Posted by on December 09, 2011 in Blog
Last week, the Senate passed a dangerous piece of legislation. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, as its name implies, finances most defense expenditures for the year, but this year’s bill also contains what we believe to be unconstitutional additions.
The worst of them: the authorization for the military to effectively detain American citizens, at home or abroad, indefinitely, without a trial.
The bill’s architects, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), argue that these measures are necessary to protect the United States in a time of war – never mind that the “war on terror,” is more similar to the “war on drugs” than an actual military conflict, and remains nebulous, indefinable, and likely indefinite.
Our Constitution expressly guarantees all persons the right to a fair trial, but the authors of the bill appear to think that exceptions can be made when the individuals in question are accused of supporting terrorist organizations or causes. We’ve already seen the myriad ways these suspicions can be misguided and misplaced – witness the number of non-terrorists stuck in Guantanamo – and we also know that the government hasn’t hesitated to abuse these powers in the past to monitor and arrest people from charges totally unrelated to terrorism.
An amendment put forward by Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) to strip out the egregious provision was voted down, 38-60.
The bill in its current form has been opposed by almost every government body that actually works on counter-terrorism and homeland security, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, CIA Director David Patraeus, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and countless others.
President Obama has promised to veto the legislation, and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) has issued a compelling letter to amend out the detention provision before the bill is sent to the President, but considering the fact that the bill passed 93-7 in the Senate, Obama will be under a lot of pressure to sign it into law. Don’t let that happen.
If you don’t live in Oregon, then at least one of your Senators voted for this bill. Write them–and your House Representative–an email and let them know you won’t stand idly by while they trample the Constitution and endanger the very liberties that make this country great.
Together we can stop this law, before it’s too late.