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Monday, June 24, 2024

USA, Land of the Free? Not any more


Looking at the Patriot Act and the NDAA

We, that is We The People, of the United States have lost many of our freedoms and much of our civil liberties in the 20 years since I retired from the military. The attacks of 9/11, which Ron Paul so aptly points out were retaliation for some of our interventionist policies in the latter half of the 20th Century.

While changing the way the United States does business would probably solve the terrorist problem, the government has instead used the pretense of protecting us, to strip us of our civil liberties and to increase its power to control our actions and protest.

Several things have enabled this assault, the inaptly named Patriot Act, the supreme court decision in Citizens United vs the FEC which enables corporations to buy the governance of our country, and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2012, which allows indefinite military detention, without trial, without hearing, of U.S. Citizens. This gives the president of the United States the ability to do what Muammar Gaddafi did to Libyans, “disappear” them. As you see from the first article, we continue to move toward being just like the countries we criticize for their human rights.

We have survived for over two centuries because of our freedoms, we will not survive without them. The stakes here are high.

The Citizens United issue needs to be handled separately.

The following collection of articles from various sources highlights the latest in the chain of events that George Orwell predicted. We can not forget or ignore what is going on lest we become completely enslaved. It is my hope that we can reverse what has happened while keeping the issue alive by keeping the subject in the forefront by publishing the latest thought on the subject. Some of these pieces are from last month, but the ideas are still relevant.






10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free


By Jonathan Turley, Published: January 13

Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.

Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?

While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of “free,” but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit. … Read More









NDAA, Patriot Act, and DHS: Welcome to the Police State of America!

By Gilbert Mercier

President Obama, despite earlier promises to veto it, will sign the National Defense Authorization Act ( NDAA). The NDAA contains dangerous provisions concerning indefinite detention of suspects without trial, and is yet another tool of “legal” repression with the Patriot Act and the omnipresent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to crack down on basic human rights and  civil liberties. It takes the United States away from the rule of law, and  a step further towards a fascist system where “order” and repression  is the number one priority.

In one of his typical flip-flops, President Obama originally said he would veto the Levin/McCain bill, but instead he announced two days ago that he would sign the controversial NDAA into law. Human rights and civil rights organizations worldwide are up in arms against the bill. The ACLU, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have all condemned the NDAA in the strongest terms. Read More







The Defense Bill Passed. So What Does It Do?

By Adam Serwer

Following the Obama administration’s withdrawal of its veto threat Wednesday, the National Defense Authorization Act passed both houses of Congress easily and is now headed to the president’s desk.

So what exactly does the bill do? It says that the president has to hold a foreign Al Qaeda suspect captured on US soil in military detention—except it leaves enough procedural loopholes that someone like convicted underwear bomber and Nigerian citizen Umar Abdulmutallab could actually go from capture to trial without ever being held by the military. It does not, contrary to what many media outlets have reported, authorize the president to indefinitely detain without trial an American citizen suspected of terrorism who is captured in the US. A last minute compromise amendment adopted in the Senate, whose language was retained in the final bill, leaves it up to the courts to decide if the president has that power, should a future president try to exercise it. But if a future president does try to assert the authority to detain an American citizen without charge or trial, it won’t be based on the authority in this bill.

So it’s simply not true, as the Guardian wrote yesterday, that the the bill “allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay.” When the New York Times editorial page writes that the bill would “strip the F.B.I., federal prosecutors and federal courts of all or most of their power to arrest and prosecute terrorists and hand it off to the military,” or that the “legislation could also give future presidents the authority to throw American citizens into prison for life without charges or a trial,” they’re simply wrong. … Read More






A New Year in a New NDAA America

By Tom Loret (about the author)

On December 14, 2011 President Obama thanked our troops at Ft. Bragg, N.C. for all their fine service and capped off the cheers with, “God bless you all, God bless your families, and God bless the United States of America.” The very next day a nearly unanimous multimillionaire Senate and a House count of 283-136 codified the National Defense Authorization Act that effectively overrides the Constitution and cancels our Bill of Rights. It is what George Washington University Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley calls, “… one of the greatest rollbacks of civil liberties in the history of our country.” It was also a highly charged symbolic gesture since that day was the 220th anniversary of the ratification of America’s Bill of Rights.

Put simply, the NDAA declares that America is in a global war on terror and designates America as an international battlefield so that all citizens and residents alike are now subject to indefinite military detention, interrogation and execution without charge, representation or trial. It also eliminates any need for the president or his military to justify, prove or account for their actions or the fate of those detained. And this, while the rest of us either slept or partied the night away, is what President Obama signed into law on December 31, 2011.

So, as a free-born American with a dedicated belief in and reverence for the Constitution of the United States I am forced into a quandary and am left to ask, What now, … Read More


Montanans Launch Recall of Senators Who Approved NDAA Military Detention. Merry Christmas, US Senate

By Ralph Lopez (about the author)

Disclaimer: I am now a volunteer press contact for this campaign.

From the press release:

Moving quickly on Christmas Day after the US Senate voted 86 – 14 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA) which allows for the indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial, Montanans have announced the launch of recall campaigns against Senators Max Baucus and Jonathan Tester, who voted for the bill.

Montana is one of nine states with provisions that say that the right of recall extends to recalling members of its federal congressional delegation, pursuant to Montana Code 2-16-603, on the grounds of physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of certain felony offenses.

Section 2 of Montana Code 2-16-603 reads:

“(2) A public officer holding an elective office may be recalled by the qualified electors entitled to vote for the elective officer’s successor.” … Read More

Vying for Detention: Two liberal Democratic Senators Give Us a Police State

By Dan DeWalt

The Police State came a big step closer in the new military authorization bill by ThisCantBeHappening

Predator Odrona is about to sign a military authorization bill [Carl Levin’s S-1867] that puts every one of us at risk of being detained by our own military. If the government decides that you are a terrorist threat, the military will be able to kidnap you and deny you the right to a trial or even the right to know why you’re being held.

The arrogant and short-sighted leaders who “govern” us have granted the government the right to detain you anywhere in the world, including inside the U.S., and there is no limit to the amount of time that they can hold you once they’ve got you.

We shouldn’t worry though, they claim, because this new law is only meant for the terrorists among us.

So just who represents a terrorist threat? Well, protesters for starts, according to a Pentagon training test, which defines protests as acts of low-level terrorism. Quaker peace meetings in Vermont and across the country have been registered as “suspicious incidents” by the Defense Department’s secretive TALON snooping system. Once your name has been entered into one of these lovely surveillance systems, you can rest assured that it will never disappear. … Read More




Chris Hedges: Why I’m suing Barack Obama over NDAA

By Gaius Publius on 1/16/2012 03:25:00 PM

The counter-assault continues.

NDAA, if you recall, is the National Defense Authorization Act, the bill that Barack Obama signed as his personal gift to a sleeping nation on New Years Eve. It authorized indefinite detention of U.S. citizens by the military — since the battlefield is everywhere, you can be arrested anywhere. You read that right.

There has been quite the groundswell of reaction, Here’s the latest, from Chris Hedges (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):

Why I’m Suing Barack Obama

Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint Friday in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on my behalf as a plaintiff against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31.

The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. …Read More





Obama’s words are hollow. Time for Liberals and Conservatives to Unite and Fight the NDAA

By Andrew Steele (about the author)

In a written statement President Obama claimed that even though he supports the NDAA  as a whole, he has serious reservations about it, and doesn’t like the parts of it that allow him to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely without trial.  He goes on to promise Americans that he will never ever use it, arrogantly expecting the American people who have been burned by him– a known liar, promise breaker, and mass murderer disguised as a statesman– time and again to believe him.  This is the same man who escalated George Bush’s wars after promising to end them and created new ones (the latest withdrawal from Iraq is just the last stage in the process of conquering the country, and doesn’t count the contractors that remain), the man who promised not to hire lobbyists and then hired them, the man who claimed to kill bin Laden but won’t release any evidence to prove it, the man who was bought and paid for by Wall Street and then pretends to support the mostly well-meaning people who protest Wall Street’s stranglehold over America.

He’s also the president that, according to Democratic Senator Carl Levin, insisted that wording which protected American citizens from being subject to indefinite detention be kept out of the NDAA. … Read More


ACLU trashes Obama over indefinite detention and torture act

“He will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law.”

These harsh words come courtesy of the executive director of the ACLU, formerly a supporter of the president but also just one of the many dissenters who have since have grown disillusioned with an administration tarnished by unfulfilled campaign promises and continuous constitutional violations.

When he signed the National Defense Authorization Act on New Year’s Eve, President Barack Obama said that he had his reservations over the controversial legislation that will allow for the indefinite detention of Americans.

Now some of the president’s pals are expressing their agreement with Obama’s own hesitation but say that the commander-in-chief should have thought harder before signing away the civil liberties of Americans.

Under the bill, which approves all defense spending for the 2012 fiscal year, certain provisions allow for the military detainment and torture of US citizens, indefinitely, essentially allowing for Guantanamo Bay-style prisons to be a real possibility for every American. As the act floated around Congress, an underground outrage erupted and activists attempted to keep the bill from leaving the House and the Senate, although a lack of media coverage largely left the matter hidden to the public. Despite this campaign, the legislation made it out of the Capitol Building and into the Oval Office last month, prompting advocates against the act to petition for the president to veto it. … Read More


MR Original – The NDAA and Indefinite Detention

MEDIA ROOTS — How does one determine when one’s society becomes unfree?  A society loses its freedoms not in one fell swoop, but in a slow and systematic erosion of successive legislation.  Like Charles Sullivan’sproverbial frog brought to a slow boil in a pot, the loss of freedom can easily go unnoticed until it’s too late.  Perhaps chattel slavery simply morphed into wage slavery and creeping fascism.

Naomi Wolf’s ominous Letter of Warning to A Young Patriot rings eerily true, as we witness the shredding of the U.S. Constitution and our human rights, by both the Republican and Democrats perpetually elected to office.

On the first of December, the Senate turned up the burner by passing Senate Bill S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), co-sponsored by Republican Senator John McCain and Democrat Senator Carl Levin, which effectively suspends your Constitutional right to habeas corpus, a legal principal dating back a thousand years guaranteeing individuals the right to appear before a court of law and be provided with the bodyor corpus, of evidence against them justifying their detention.  A detainee must be provided with the body of evidence for which they are being held.  If a court is unable to determine sufficient cause, per writ of habeas corpus, is duty-bound to order the individual be freed.

Obama went into immediate damage control mode when the S.1867 scandal broke– early on it was reported that President Obama would veto the NDAA if it passed the House and Senate.

Then, in a disturbing revelation, Senator Carl Levin stated on the floor that it was Obama himself who insisted on the ‘indefinite detention’ wording within the NDAA.  One Forbes analyst notes, … Read More

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