Obama Signs Indefinite Detention Bill: Welcome to the Police State

Obama HeilCongress just passed, and the President just signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill that gives legal authority to the President to kidnap and perpetually imprison persons, including American citizens, without the benefit of due process.

Members of Congress, in the days leading up to the vote, tried to assure their constituents that they have nothing to fear — that the bill doesn’t apply to Americans.

Some were lying. Most were deceived.

Now, I don’t want to imply that Barack Obama plans to sweep up every one of his critics (or even a select few) because of statements they’ve uttered publicly. That is overstatement. The law doesn’t permit that. But consider the following scenario…

You object to the way the Federal Leviathan State is run. You gather, every other Tuesday, with others who share your values. We’ll call your fictional group the Constitution League (CL).

One night, a new fellow shows up. He’s frustrated and outspoken. He complains that the time for meetings is over. Something must be done — something that will “get their attention.” You’re uncomfortable with his remarks but unsure how to respond.

You hope he never returns, and he doesn’t.

What you don’t know, until months later, is that one of our CL colleagues, the chapter Vice President, followed the vocal man out to the parking lot. The two exchanged email addresses and phone numbers. Then, your local VP reached out to a third man, a member of a CL chapter in the nearest big city. The three met regularly. They plotted and executed their own terrorist plot on a U.S. Government facility.

Now, your group meeting was the place they met. The Vice President used his CL email account. CL is all over the news. CL is now, for all intents and purposes, a terrorist group.

And you? Well, you’ve donated to the terrorist organization. You’ve participated in its meetings. The night this angry man walked in, you didn’t call the authorities.

  • Can the President have the military come and arrest you? Yes!
  • Can he (or she) send you to a military tribunal for trial or just hold you indefinitely in a military facility, without charges? Yes!

Even the bill co-sponsor, Senator McCain, appears to agree with this assessment. Senator Rand Paul asked John McCain, on the Senate floor, “…under the provisions, would it be possible that an American citizen could be declared an ‘enemy combatant’ and sent to Guantanamo Bay, and detained indefinitely?” McCain responded, “I think that as long as that individual, NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE, if they POSE A THREAT to the security of the United States of America, should not be allowed to continue the threat.” {Emphasis Added}

Wait a minute. Wasn’t there a provision in this bill that exempted Americans?

Despite what your Congressional office may have told you (if you called during the debate over this bill) the answer to that question is an emphatic NO!

The relevant sections of the bill are 1021 and 1022.

  • Section 1021 asserts the President’s authority to arrest suspected (not convicted) terrorists and gives him the option to choose whether or not they even get a trial, and if so, what kind of trial.
  • Section 1022 requires that a certain class of terrorist get no trial. Instead they must be held in military prisons, for as long as this President, or any future President desires.

SECTION 1021

Section 1021 is very expansive in its reach. It “includ[es] any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

  • Who is “any person?”
  • What is a “belligerent act?”
  • What is “direct support?”

One could be safe in assuming these words mean whatever a creatively-minded prosecutor, a flexible judge, and an ignorant jury define them to mean — EXCEPT THAT, UNDER THIS ACT, ONE MIGHT NEVER GET AS FAR AS A COURT HEARING.

These terms will be defined by the bureaucrats in power.

They could be used against political opponents.

1021 has NO exceptions. There’s not even a hint of an exception. Remember, that section gave the President the authority to arrest you and a set of options on how you were to be handled. These choices are completely divorced from the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments, as well as the Treason provisions of Article III. The President’s new alternatives are…

  1. Detention without trial by the military
  2. Trial by a military commission
  3. Trial by some other court of the President’s choosing
  4. Shipping you off to a foreign jurisdiction (info here)

SECTION 1022

1022 is a REQUIREMENT — a binding mandate upon the President. President Obama threatened to veto the bill, but only because he feared 1022 would restrict his power too much.

This section is for your fellow CL members/plotters. Whereas, you got snatched up for “support” or “aid” to the plot, they actually carried out an attack, or as the section itself indicates…

“…participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.”

Section 1022 requires the President to go with option #1 above — the other three options are off the table. In other words, no trial, either in a civilian court or military tribunal.

In the final version of the bill, after a public storm started to erupt, the title of the section was changed to indicate that it only applied to “foreign al-Qaeda terrorists.” However, titles are not normally considered part of the law but merely summary descriptions to the reader of a bill.

But this title is especially IRONIC, because it’s this section that includes the so-called exemption for American citizens. Why would you need to exempt American citizens from a section of law that applies to “foreign al-Qaeda terrorists?”

The answer is because the section applies to any kind of “terrorist,” domestic or foreign, no matter what the title says.

And here’s the so-called exemption, with the key word highlighted…

The REQUIREMENT to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.

That means that military custody, without a trial, is mandated by law, but that the President, at his discretion or by written policy, may issue a waiver on the basis that a person is an American citizen.

If this provision was a true safeguard for American citizens, then the line would’ve been written like this…

Military custody of citizens of the United States is still prohibited under this act.

See the difference? It’s a requirement that can be waived at discretion, as opposed to a prohibition.

Now, do you realize Congress has given the Federal State the power to use military detention on its own citizens? And that they’ve made it possible to wage a war on peaceful activists, if they can just incite someone in your group to attempt something violent?

Don’t worry. It’s not like the FBI is busy infiltrating meetings, entrapping some dullard into a plot, equipping and financing his efforts, and then claiming credit for stopping another terrorist attack! Oh wait, that’s happened about 40 times since 9/11.

Thus, to complete our story, the angry man who showed up at the CL meeting might’ve work for the FBI. And he duped two idiots in your group, who put you and your fellow members in legal jeopardy.

This new law is that serious. President Obama has claimed he won’t use this power. All that needs to happen now is a provocative incident. Then, all bets are off. Since these nearly unlimited, un-constitutional powers are now law, this President, or a future one, will be able to kidnap and disappear Americans. It could very easily be open season for the police state.

Jim Babka is the co-founder and President of the Downsize DC Foundation and DownsizeDC.org, Inc. Credit: tenthamendmentcenter.com

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