A bipartisan team ranging from former Al Gore consultant Naomi Wolf to Ronald Reagan Justice Department official Bruce Fein have committed to working with state and local governments to make sure the citizen detention plans signed into law by Barack Obama are not enforced.
“Journalists aren’t safe. Union leaders aren’t safe. Activists aren’t safe. Liberty is not safe,” Wolf, an author of half a dozen books, said during a telephone conference call announcing plans.
The focal point of their worry is the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes several sections that provide for the unrestricted detention of even U.S. citizens under some circumstances.
Obama, in signing the law, suggested that such detentions are a possibility but promised not to exercise his power.
Outside opinions on exactly what the law allows vary widely.
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.”
“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 him or other third-party candidates during a presidential election.
A state agency, and later the Department of Homeland Security, offered warnings that returning veterans, those who oppose abortion and others who advocate conservative issues could pose a danger to the nation.
Others have pooh-poohed the concerns about the apprehension of Americans. Wayne Bowen, a professor 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.
It was the Bill of Rights Defense Committee that arranged the online meeting of experts. Officials there noted that during the first few weeks of 2012, at least six jurisdictions have enacted local resolutions opposing the military detention provisions of the NDAA.
And legislation to nullify the act has been introduced in several state legislatures. Just last week a Virginia bill passed the House of Delegates 96-4.
“Concerns about NDAA detention provisions transcend political party, ideology, and geography, and representatives in these diverse jurisdictions have stood up to resist an ongoing bipartisan assault on constitutional rights by federal officials,” the committee announced. “While a debate about the scope of the NDAA’s potential abuses continues to distract congressional policymakers, who voted without realizing the law’s terrifying implications, their counterparts in state and local governments are proving more conscientious, proactively acting on their oaths of office to defend the Constitution.”
Scheduled also to speak were Missouri State Rep. Paul Curtman, a Republican; North Carolina state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, a Democrat; Washington state Rep. Matt Shea, a Republican; Northampton, Mass., city councilor Bill Dwitght, a Democrat; and El Paso, Colo., county commissioners Peggy Littleton, a Republican.
The Defense Committee works to defend the rule of law and rights and liberties, while the Tenth Amendment Center is a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government. Demand Progress promotes civil rights, civil liberties and progressive government reform.
It was the Tenth Amendment Center that earlier started monitoring states and local governments rejecting Obama’s detention plan.
It reported on the Virginia bill, which would “prevent any agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the military of Virginia from assisting an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the conduct of the investigation, prosecution, or detention of a citizen in violation of the United States Constitution, the Constitution of Virginia, or any Virginia law or regulation.”
Shortly after HB1160 reached a vote in Virginia, the Arizona Senate Border Security, Federalism and States Sovereignty Committee approved on a 6-1 vote SB1182, which brings the bill to the verge of a full vote in the Senate.
The Arizona plan “prohibits this state and agencies of this state from participating in the implementation of Sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 and classifies the act of attempting to enforce or enforcing these sections as a class 1 misdemeanor.”
WND reported earlier when Rep. Daniel P. Gordon Jr. drafted a resolution in the Rhode Island legislature to express opposition to the sections of the NDAA “that suspend habeas corpus and civil liberties.”
The Tenth Amendment Center reported “lawmakers in Maryland, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Washington” also are considering laws or resolutions pushing back against NDAA detention plans.
“Resistance to indefinite detention without due process is not limited to states,” the organization reported. “Six local governments have passed resolutions condemning sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA.”
The report said the town council of Macomb, N.Y., unanimously adopted such a statement, and in Fairfax, Calif., officials approved a resolution on a 4-1 vote. New Shoreham, R.I., also adopted a resolution, as have three local governments in Colorado.
“Most Americans recognize that the federal government rarely, if ever, relinquishes power once it grasps it. So state and local governments are taking James Madison’s word to heart and interposing on behalf of their citizens,” said Mike Maharrey, the communications director for the center.
He noted that there are individuals who argue the sections really don’t authorize detentions, but Maharrey said those assurances don’t provide much comfort.
“The very fact that so many legal experts come up with so many diverse readings of those NDAA sections should give us all pause,” he said. “The language is vague and undefined. Are we really going to trust the judgment and good intentions of Pres. Obama or whichever Republican sits in the White House to protect us?”
Fein said on the conference call that fears about the NDAA detention provisions are truly alarming.
“It authorizes the president to employ the military to show up on any doorstep, and based on secret facts, say you’re connected some way with some kind of associated power of al-Qaida. … You can go to Guantanamo Bay and rot,” he said.
He said Americans could expect to see Predator drones flying overhead.
An official for the Tenth Amendment Center says the liberty threat is real.
“You might consider the use of the word kidnapping to be mere hyperbole,” Blake Philippi said, “But when you remove due process, arrest and detention is nothing more than government kidnapping.”
Shea said, “Where something is very clearly unconstitutional … is it our duty not to comply.”
He said the plan he has proposed in Washington, HB 2759, would make it “so that that bill regarding unlawful detention … would not be lawful in the state of Washington.”
He said the federal legislation violates 11 provisions of the U.S. Constitution.