MEDIA ROOTS — The U.S. blindly took another giant step further into tyranny last week—no, really.
In most corporate and, even, many independent news outlets, the public was kept up-to-date with the deaths of singer Davy Jones and conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart. However, relatively little attention was given to the annihilation of Constitutionally-protected civil liberties executed by the National Defense Authorization Act, which went into effect Wednesday, March 1. On the very same day two celebrities coincidentally died from unexpected heart-attacks in the U.S., a bipartisan Congress carefully dealt orchestrated attacks against the First Amendment.
Instead of the anti-democratic new law merely taking effect, the House resolved to further the scope of the NDAA by preventing assembly near public officials guarded by the Secret Service. Not only is the U.S. tradition of protesting at the White House under siege—now those vying to replace the presidency are also exempt from the ‘nuisance’ of protesters. 499 Congressional Representatives voted in favor of HR 347—the Federal Restriction Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act—only three voted against: Paul Broun (R-GA), Justin Amash (R-MI), and Ron Paul (R-TX).
The President signed the NDAA into law on New Year’s Eve, but hardly did a media firestorm result from the fact that the military is now legally able to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens solely based on suspicion. That’s right. Despite Presidential Policy Directive 14, future protesters at the White House could be locked up indefinitely, without due process of the law. Of course, Attorney General Eric Holder has begun engaging in Orwellian semantical double-speak regarding due process in cases of arbitrary targeted killings when he spoke before law school students today at Chicago’s Northwestern University:
“Due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”
It’s a terrible precedent Holder is working to set with regard to due process, which may easily spread to the First Amendment and other rights once the Fifth Amendment is undermined. Although, no one may be “deprived of life” without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment, Holder claims that due process “doesn’t necessarily come from a court.”
Author Naomi Wolf reminded the world the day before NDAA Day 1 that U.S. citizens are “sleepwalking into becoming a police state.” She explained further:
“Overstated? Let’s be clear: the NDAA grants the president the power to kidnap any American anywhere in the United States and hold him or her in prison forever without trial. The president’s own signing statement, incredibly, confirmed that he had that power. As I have been warning since 2006: there is not a country on the planet that you can name that has ever set in place a system of torture, and of detention without trial, for an “other”, supposedly external threat that did not end up using it pretty quickly on its own citizens.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is now calling on all U.S. citizens to pressure the Senate to clean up the NDAA. People must specifically demand that no president ever be given the power to use the military far from armed conflict to imprison civilians indefinitely, especially within U.S. borders. Additionally, no President should be required to put civilians into military custody without charge. Chris Anders from the ACLU explains:
“The United States itself should be off-limits for the military to impose indefinite detention without charge or trial. It would be unconstitutional for the president to apply the NDAA provisions here at home, but the Senate rejected explicit protections to reinforce the Constitution’s and the Posse Comitatus Act’s protections.”
But without much leverage other than the power of the vote, which most voters perpetually award to the same politicians they protest, U.S. civilian demands are easily dismissed, as the Democrat and Republican parties know they have monopolized the political process. Perhaps, it’s time to boycott both corporate political parties responsible for so much oppression.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges is suing the President for signing the NDAA. He, along with several other plaintiffs, such as Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, blame both political parties for the passing of this totalitarian law. They suspect that the corporate state ensured its passage because of potentially imminent uprisings in the United States. In Hedges’ own words:
“This demented ‘war on terror’ is as undefined and vague as such a conflict is in any totalitarian state. The NDAA expands our permanent war to every spot on the globe. It erases fundamental constitutional liberties. It means we can no longer use the word ‘democracy’ to describe our political system.”
Chris Hedges on Alex Jones’ Infowars discusses the lawsuit.
Oskar Mosquito is a regular contributor to Media Roots.
Photo provided by Flickr user DVIDSHUB.
Obama recently came out to issue new guidelines for the NDAA provision, but the move is simply a PR stunt. It does not strip his absolute power of indefinitely detaining U.S. citizens.