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Members of the state Senate in Virginia today advanced a detention-prevention plan that would undermine a provision of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act plan signed by Barack Obama.
The change came after supporters lobbied energetically for the bill. A large contingent of Japanese-Americans weighed in on the controversial plan, which critics says allows the president to detain American citizens without charges or court hearings.
Floyd Mori, chief of the Japanese American Citizens League, sent a letter to legislators.
“As many of you know, during World War II the Japanese American community was targeted as ‘suspected enemy aliens’ and by authority of Presidential Executive Order 9066, over 110,000 people were rounded up and put into concentration camps at 10 desolate locations under the notion that they could be suspect,” he told the lawmakers in Virginia.
“This period of indefinite detention lasted until the war ended, and there was no due process as guaranteed by the Constitution. A congressional commission later, through a number of public hearings, found that this was an unjustified act of the government due to war hysteria, racism, and poor government leadership at the time. The government was ordered by an act of Congress to apologize and provide redress in order to learn a lesson that this should never again happen. If there were more who stood up to this injustice, much heartache and economic loss could have been avoided and this apology would not have been needed,” he said.
“Today we face a similar situation. The so-called ‘War on Terror’ has led to the same kind of hysteria and racist actions by government. I can also say that we have lacked the political leadership to identify that this kind of forced indefinite detention is a repeat of what happened during WWII,” he said.
“The state of Virginia has the opportunity to stand up to an unjust application of congressional authority. The American people need somebody to stand up against this injustice. HB 1160 is a tool that does just that; it stands up for the American people by respecting the basic principles of the Constitution.”
The Tenth Amendment Center, which is monitoring developments on the issue, reported that the plan states that no agency of the commonwealth of Virginia – including defense forces and national guard troops – “will comply with or assist the federal government in any way under its newly claimed powers to arrest and detain without due process.”
“During World War II, the federal government incarcerated tens of thousands of loyal Japanese Americans in the name of national security. By this bill, Virginia declares that it will not participate in similar modern-day efforts,” said sponsor Delegate Bob Marshall.
The center reported, “Even President Obama had questions about the bill, when he promised the American people that he would not use the unrestrained powers it granted him – but why should we trust any president with such powers?”
The bill has earned approval in the state house. It is expected to be passed in some form even though Gov. Bob McDonnell was reported to be opposing it. Both chambers passed the plan by wide veto-proof margins.
Among the hundreds of pages in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012, which was signed by Obama Dec. 31. 2011, is section 1021, “which purports to authorize the president of the United States to use the armed forces of the United States to detain American citizens who the president suspects are or have been substantial supports of al-Qaida, the Taliban, or associated forces, and to hold such citizens indefinitely,” according to an analysis.
“In short, Section 1021 authorizes the president to dispose of American citizens
suspected of supporting ‘terrorism’ according to the laws of war, as if the United States soil was a battlefield and her citizens enemy combatants, not entitled to the protections of the Bill of Rights, including the rights to trial by jury, representation by counsel, confrontation of witnesses, and due process of law administered by impartial judges,” an analysis said.
It explained that when Obama signed the bill, he “assured the American people that he would never exercise the powers granted him under Section 1021. But both his administration and that of former president George W. Bush have asserted that the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists already allows the president to indefinitely detain persons without charge, including United States citizens captured in the United States.”
WND just reported on a plan being developed by a bipartisan team to work with state and local governments to make certain such dramatic interpretations of the citizen detention plan are not enforced.
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.
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee 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.
Among the states that have begun addressing the issue, along with Virginia, are Arizona, Rhode Island, Maryland, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Washington.
Local jurisdictions include Macomb, N.Y.; Fairfax, Calif.; New Shoreham, R.I.; and several locations in Colorado.