When Congress adopted and Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, alarms were raised over the possibility that it would allow the indefinite and rights-free detention of those who are called “belligerents,” even if they are American citizens.
While the argument over those provisions rages, one state lawmaker in Rhode Island has jumped into action to protect the danger he sees for residents of his state, proposing a resolution to exempt his constituents from sections of the federal law.
Rep. Daniel P. Gordon Jr. today told WND he has drafted a resolution, which is being circulated among the lawmakers even now, to express opposition to the sections of the NDAA “that suspend habeas corpus and civil liberties.”
“Sections 1021 and 1022 of the act, signed into law on New Years Eve of 2011, provide for the indefinite detention of American citizens by the military on American soil, without charge, and without right to legal counsel and right to trial,” he explained.
“Given the fact that the constitutions of Rhode Island and that of the United States are replete with guarantees of individual liberties, right to habeas corpus, and right to freedom of speech, the offending sections of that law are repugnant to the sensibilities of anyone that has a basic understanding of the foundation of this country,” he said.
The opinions on the legislation signed by Obama vary. Commentator Chuck Baldwin, who himself has been the target of smears by the Department of Homeland Security-related apparatus, explained the law, “for all intents and purposes, completely nullifies a good portion of the Bill of Rights, turns the United States into a war zone, and places U.S. citizens under military rule.”
He noted that Mike Adams at NaturalNews.com was horrified, writing, “One of the most extraordinary documents in human history – the Bill of Rights – has come to an end under President Barack Obama. Derived from sacred principles of natural law, the Bill of Rights has come to a sudden and catastrophic end with the president’s signing of the National defense Authorization Act, a law that grants the U.S. military the ‘legal’ right to conduct secret kidnappings of U.S. citizens, followed by indefinite detention, interrogation, torture and even murder. This is all conducted completely outside the protection of law, with no jury, no trial, no legal representation and not even any requirement that the government produce evidence against the accused.
“When signing the NDAA into law, Obama issued a signing statement that
in essence said, ‘I have the power to detain Americans … but I
won’t,” Baldwin wrote.
Baldwin was vilified by an anti-terror campaign in Missouri several years ago when authorities there described suspicious characters as those who might have supported Baldwin or other third-party candidates during a presidential election.
Others pooh-poohed the concerns about the apprehension of Americans. Wayne Bowne, an academic at Southeast Missouri State University not far from where state officials had issued that warning about Baldwin, said, “The NDAA not only does not empower the U.S. military to detain American citizens indefinitely, it specifically prohibits this.
“The NDAA confirms as U.S. law the practice that foreign terrorists … will be held indefinitely by the U.S. military. Indeed, this is a far more generous policy than allowed under international law,” he wrote.
“While the ACLU and Ron Paul may whine about the loss of liberty by terrorists and complain about nonexistent threats to our freedoms within a law that specifically prohibits these threats, even the Obama administration agreed that the NDAA would not result in indefinite detentions of U.S. citizens or permanent residents,” he wrote.
Gordon knows there are those who don’t worry, but he’s not willing to jeopardize freedoms on the assumption something won’t happen.
He cites Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar, both retired four-star Marine generals, who have concerns.
“Both of these distinguished gentlemen understand that the first obligation of military personnel is the oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Violation of that oath, constitutional provisions and that of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 is a slippery slope to tyranny,” he said.
“When I took the oath of office, I swore that I would support the constitutions of Rhode Island and the United States. And before one single constituent of mine is snatched up in the dead of night, without due process under our laws, they’ll have to pry those documents from my cold dead hands,” he said.
He told WND the problem is made worse by the wording of the law. It’s unclear exactly what is a “belligerent” and who will make that determination? Is someone angry at the government over a ticket for an alleged traffic infraction a belligerent?
“This should be terrifying to Americans,” he said.
He said he was not aware of any other state making the same move, although a similar statement had been generated by county officials in El Paso County, Colo.
Approving his resolution would be a “good first step” in the fight over such rights.
It’s not just this single bill, either, he said, that worries.
“That incremental creeping of tyranny from the federal government has been going on for the past decade. … No one is standing up and saying no.”
There are some exceptions to that characterization. Eight states have adopted their own “Firearms Freedom Acts” that say guns made, sold and kept inside a state are exempt from federal regulation.
The laws fly directly in the face of Washington’s presumption that it can control such activity. The dispute currently is pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
There also has been a move in states to exempt citizens from Obama’s health care mandates.
Two authors in another commentary warned of the possibility of the unrestricted detention of Americans.
Allen Keller and Yang-Yang Zhou of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture noted that Alexander Hamilton described such policies as the “favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny.”
“Based on our experience in evaluating and caring for victims of torture and human rights abuses from all over the world, Hamilton was right,” they wrote. “Regardless of the law’s applicability to U.S. citizens, indefinite detention in a military facility without charge can be tantamount to torture, causing profound health consequences.
“It is hardly reassuring that President Obama accompanied his signing of the NDAA with a statement pledging that his administration will not authorize indefinite detention without trial for Americans. First, there are no assurances with future administrations. Second, the president’s record on following through with such promises is inconsistent at best,” they wrote.
“This new law signals yet another post-9/11 erosion of U.S. moral authority against torture and human rights abuses. We are now officially in the business of indefinite detention and disappearances. Who are we to censure dictatorships in Africa and elsewhere for doing the same?”
The Tenth Amendment Center, which monitors disputes over rights and federal authority, says the NDAA defies the founding principles of America.
“As Jefferson said, the states were never united on the principle of complete submission to the federal government,” a commentary notes about a dispute over Obamacare that involves the same principles.
“The people, through the states, created the federal government for limited purposes, granting it specific, clearly articulated powers, leaving all other authority to the states and the people. In fact, the federal government serves as an agent of the states and the people, not their master.”
The proper response from the states and people?
“Nullification provides a powerful check on federal power,” the commentary explains. “Without it, the states and American citizens must simply bow down and meekly accept any edict passed down from Washington.”