The arguments still are raging over whether several provisions in a national defense appropriations act authorize warrantless detentions of American citizens who may be described by Washington as “belligerents,” but states aren’t waiting for any final determination.
The Virginia House already has passed – overwhelmingly – a “bill to 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.”
Just two days after the 96-4 vote Tuesday on HB1160 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 reports that “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 today. “Six local governments have passed resolutions condemning sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA.”
The report said that just this week, 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.
In Virginia, Delegate Bob Marshall said his state could not “directly undo” the law, but it could “prevent the use of any Virginia agency or member of the Virginia National Guard or Virginia Defense Force to assist in any way to unlawfully detain a citizen of Virginia.”
He said his interpretation of the federal law is that “American citizens may be indefinitely detained, incarcerated, not presented with charges and denied counsel based on an accusation by federal agents of collaboration with or support of terrorists.”
“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?
“That seems like a pretty bad plan,” he said.
The organization is tracking resolutions and legislative proposals on a day-to-day basis.
It was Gordon who earlier told WND that those sections 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 continued, “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.”
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.”
“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 Tenth Amendment Center said it expects more states also to take action.