Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Virginia has passed a new law that bars state cooperation with any federal detention of its citizens under Barack Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, and a lead lawmaker there says other states should do the same.
“If Congress and the president must suspend a citizen’s civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution’s Bill of Rights to fight the war on terrorism, then we have lost that war, having lost the very purpose for which the war is being fought – to preserve the American constitutional republic,” Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall wrote in a letter this week to legislative leaders around the country.
“Let Congress and the president hear from the states as we join together, so that we soon may see the day that they repeal this terrible law (NDAA),” he wrote.
Marshall’s HB1160 passed the Virginia House of Delegates by a vote of 87-7 and the Virginia Senate 36-1 just a week ago, making Virginia the first state to approve such legislation.
His concern was that NDAA “literally turns the entire country into a military battlefield, conferring extraordinary powers on the U.S. armed forces against its own citizens.”
“Not since the American Civil War has there been such a claim of power over the nation’s citizenry,” he said. “Thank God, we live under a Constitution of competing independent and sovereign states, not a monolithic centralized power in Washington, D.C.”
Marshall’s letter noted Virginia was the first state in the nation to refuse cooperation “with federal authorities who, acting under the authority of section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA), could arrest and detain American citizens suspected of aiding terrorists without probable cause, without the right to know the charges against them, and without the procedural rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Our new law goes into effect on July 1, 2012.”
He told lawmakers, “While we would hope that the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives would be vigilant to protect the constitutional rights of American citizens, even when addressing the problem of international terrorism, those efforts in Congress failed at the end of last year, and President Obama signed NDAA into law on December 31, 2011.
“While the [state] bill was modified several times along the way of passage, including amendments from our governor who wanted language to ensure state cooperation with the federal government where it is legal and constitutional, I hope our effort will be a motivation, and perhaps even a model for other state legislatures that they too would take a stand in resisting federal overreach,” he said.
“I was particularly heartened by support from the Japanese American Citizens League, which reminded the Virginia General Assembly that illegal detentions could occur in the future, because they have occurred in the past – with President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 and the roundup of 110,000 Japanese Americans into concentration camps because they were classified as ‘suspected enemy aliens.’”
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.”
Marshall offers lawmakers in other states information on how to prepare a similar bill on his DelegateBob.com site.
The Virginia plan endured various twists and turns en route to becoming law. When finally approved by the legislature, the governor still had concerns. He proposed amendments that were adopted without change by lawmakers. Under the state’s procedures, no further signature is needed, and the plan becomes law on July 1.
Marshall said the final bill is “a real slap in the face to Washington.”
“I had liberals voting for this,” he said.
An analysis by the Tenth Amendment Center said the bill “prevents 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 United States citizen in violation of the United States Constitution, Constitution of Virginia, or any Virginia law or regulation.”
House Bill 1160 addresses several obscure sections of the NDAA of 2012 that appear to allow unlimited detentions by U.S. military forces and federal law enforcement agencies of even U.S. citizens without charges or a court hearing.
The federal plan targets citizens who are classified as belligerents or who are suspected of involvement in terrorist activities. Marshall told WND that he was alarmed to find out that Obama specifically had wanted that section included in the law.
Marshall contends the federal law deprives citizens of the rights they are guaranteed under the U.S. and Virginia constitutions. When a U.S. senator noted that the federal plan originally included a provision preventing the president from detaining people, the White House asked that it be removed.
“Obama then says, ‘I won’t use this ability.’ … That’s odd. That’s troubling,” Marshall said.
But Marshall said the governor’s concerns about not creating a stumbling block for operations the state chooses to pursue were reasonable.
Marshall had offered the governor an 11-page legal analysis in support of the proposal that had been prepared by Herbert W. Titus, a former law school professor and recognized expert on constitutional issues.
Titus currently is of counsel at the Vienna, Va., law firm of William J. Olson, who is former chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Party.
Titus said in adopting the law, the governor “would fulfill the historic role of the states as being guardians of the people from usurpations of authority from the central government.”
The analysis explains the governor “certainly has the authority to make his own assessment off the federal statute’s constitutionality now, without having to wait for a judicial decision after some person is denied the very rights that the constitution is designed to protect.”
Among the federal law’s section is 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 of the federal law.
“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,” the analysis said.
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.
A Bill of Rights Defense Committee noted that during the first few weeks of 2012, at least six local jurisdictions enacted local resolutions opposing the military detention provisions of the NDAA, and a number of states began considering legislation similar to Virginia’s.
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 in Colorado.