Bill of Rights Day

by wjw on December 17, 2011

So the National Defense Authorization of 2012 has passed, aided by the lobbying efforts of defense contractors such as Honeywell and Bluewater Defense, who are no doubt looking forward to being paid billions for building LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of prisons and torture chambers.

The bill passed on December 15, which happens to be Bill of Rights Day.  Thank you for the fucking irony, asshats!

Thirteen senators voted against, neatly divided into six Republicans, six Democrats, and one Independent.

Senator Lindsay Graham set the us-against-them tone in his rant:

“I hope you believe America is part of the battlefield.” The United States is at war, he insisted, and anyone alleged to be in opposition to the US government’s game will now be subjected to military-style detention indefinitely.

In his remarks Thursday afternoon, Senator Graham attacked America’s current legal system, critiquing it for allowing suspected terrorists to be treated as “common criminals.”

“We think al-Qaeda operatives, citizens or not, are not common criminals. We think they are crazy people,” he said.

“If you’re an American citizen and you want to help…destroy your own country, here is what’s coming your way,” cautioned the senator. The threat he went on to impose involved indefinite military detention for everyone.

The act’s draconian provisions were somewhat modified in a House/Senate conference committee.  No longer is the military the sole agency authorized to deal with domestic terrorism.  And US citizens and legal aliens are no longer automatically remanded to military custody without benefit of counsel, now they need a hearing before a judge (without benefit of counsel). 

Actually the wording of the bill is pretty hilarious:  “the requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States [or] to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.”

In other words, the requirement does not extend to military custody.  Now it’s just an option.

Oboy.   I feel so much better now.

What is sad is that none of this is new.  This law is merely a clarification of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, one of a great many ill-considered acts passed in the hysteria following 9/11.  It’s a sad comment that the congress remains in hysterics even after the death of Osama and the reduction of al-Qaeda to a few hundred people hiding in the wilderness (or possibly in luxury accommodation furnished by the Pakistani government and paid for by the American taxpayer).

Still, politicians up for re-election are rarely known for their courage.  No one wants to be accused of being soft on terror, or not supporting the military.  Not when every single inch of the United States of America is a war zone!

And our president, who once threatened to veto the bill, has implemented one of his smooth, strategic acts of cowardice and has withdrawn his threat.  After all, he’s up for re-election, too.

Our only consolation is that the bill is so flagrantly unconstitutional that the courts will rule it null and void.  But this will take years of expensive litigation and drag on forever.

(NOTE: I would have commented on Bill of Rights Day itself, but I was too busy getting in as much holiday partying as possible before the Black Ops guys descend and carry me off to Guantanamo.)

PhilRM December 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Actually, it’s even worse than that: the only reason Obama was threatening to veto the bill was on the grounds that what the President decides to do is none of Congress’s fucking business.

Anonymous December 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm

“…and anyone [b]alleged[/b] to be in opposition to the US government’s game will now be subjected to military-style detention indefinitely.”

Alleged? “I say you may be guilty, I will find a pocket judge and have him lock you up. If he does not agree to lock you up, he must be part of the conspiracy! We will get you unless we run out of places to lock up judges who don’t agree.”

Don’t forget, if they don’t want to run you past one of their pet judges, they maintain the right to just shoot you. (If they later change their mind, they can refund your family the cost of the bullet.) It makes me wonder when they will pass the, “Cameras in American Bathroom for Freedom Act?” CIA BF A?

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) December 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm

It sure looks as if the US government is declaring war on its own people. That would make us all terrorists, and subject to any penalties they feel like imposing.

And see Charlie Stross’ blog for a convincing argument that the SOPA and PIPA bills in Congress are at least partially motivated by the desire to prevent an “Arab Spring” style rebellion here in the US. It’s a two-pronged approach: they turn off the internet under the authority of SOPA so we can’t communicate our dissent, then detain under NDAA us so we can’t demonstrate. Then they can go back to their card game with the lobbyists without worrying we might do something to upset their little applecart.

DensityDuck December 19, 2011 at 6:09 am

This is what you get when people claim that foreigners shooting at American soldiers on behalf of a non-American political organization in a foreign country should be get exactly the same level of legal protection as some dude who ran a red light.

DensityDuck December 19, 2011 at 6:11 am

Bruce: The Republicans from the 1990s called, they want their government-takeover conspiracy theories back.

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