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Obama Signed the National Defense Authorization Act - Now Wh

Discussion in 'Freedom and Liberty' started by Quigley_Sharps, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    President Obama Signed the National Defense Authorization Act - Now What?

    One thing I love about writing on technology is that it’s a subject always filled with hope and optimism. For every frightening use of technology by oppressive governments there’s a corresponding story about the use of that same technology to overcome oppression.

    For every story of police abuse I’ve read, there’s another story about corruption and violence exposed by something as simple as a camera phone.

    But can technology help us overcome truly pernicious legislation like the National Defense Authorization Act recently signed by the president?

    The National Defense Authorization Act greatly expands the power and scope of the federal government to fight the War on Terror, including codifying into law the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without trial. Under the new law the US military has the power to carry out domestic anti-terrorism operations on US soil.

    The National Defense Authorization Act is the Greatest Threat to Civil Liberties Americans Face
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    “The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it,” the president said in a statement. “I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”

    Worse, the NDAA authorizes the military to detain even US citizens under the broad new anti-terrorism provisions provided in the bill, once again without trial.

    There is some controversy on this point, in part because the law as written is entirely too vague. But whether or not the law will be used to indefinitely detain US citizens domestically, it is written to allow the detention of US citizens abroad as well as foreigners without trial.

    “Obama’s signing statement seems to suggest he already believe he has the authority to indefinitely detain Americans—he just never intends to use it,” Adam Serwer writes at Mother Jones. “Left unsaid, perhaps deliberately, is the distinction that has dominated the debate over the defense bill: the difference between detaining an American captured domestically or abroad. This is why ACLU Director Anthony Romero released a statement shortly after Obama’s arguing the authority in the defense bill could “be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.”

    The NDAA Makes the Status Quo Worse

    Glenn Greenwald makes a compelling case that the law gives the government truly frightening powers. He notes that section 1022 exempts US citizens from the requirement of military detention but still leaves the option open to the state.

    “The only provision from which U.S. citizens are exempted here is the“requirement” of military detention,” Greenwald writes. “For foreign nationals accused of being members of Al Qaeda, military detention is mandatory; for U.S. citizens, it is optional. This section does not exempt U.S citizens from the presidential power of military detention: only from the requirement of military detention.”

    “The most important point on this issue is the same as underscored in the prior two points: the “compromise” reached by Congress includes language preserving the status quo,” he continues. “That’s because the Obama administration already argues that the original 2001 AUMF authorizes them to act against U.S. citizens (obviously, if they believe they have thepower to target U.S. citizens for assassination, then they believe they have the power to detain U.S. citizens as enemy combatants). The proof that this bill does not expressly exempt U.S. citizens or those captured on U.S. soil is that amendments offered by Sen. Feinstein providing expressly for those exemptions were rejected. The “compromise” was to preserve the status quo by including the provision that the bill is not intended to alter it with regard to American citizens, but that’s because proponents of broad detention powers are confident that the status quo already permits such detention.”

    In part the National Defense Authorization Act helps to preserve the status quo established a decade ago with the original provisions in the PATRIOT Act giving the government broad new powers in the so-called War on Terror. In part the bill expands those powers, codifying the use of indefinite detention of foreign nationals and possibly US citizens arrested abroad and at home. In part the bill expands the use of the US military on domestic soil, at once complicating anti-terrorism strategies at home and raising serious questions about the role of the military in law enforcement.

    All these things should make Americans – and not just Americans – very nervous about the preservation of their civil liberties. That precarious balance between security and liberty is looking ever more tilted toward the former and away from the latter.

    The History of Anti-Terrorism is Bad News for Civil Liberties

    Just as troubling, these laws suggest that the legal apparatus available to us is insufficient to the task. While due process may work for any other criminal act, terrorism is unique and requires new and expanded powers that ignore the Constitution. These powers are necessary until “hostilities end” – as though terror itself can ever be extinguished.

    In the 1970′s the British government began passing a series of anti-terrorism laws that did many of the same things the US government has done since 9/11. At the time, detention without charge was expanded to seven days. Various other powers of arrest and detention were written into law, and these provisions were expanded gradually through the 1980′s as the British government continued to wage its war against the Irish Republican Army.

    Far from wiping these laws from the books when the IRA disarmed, many of these laws were simply reinforced by the 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act and the 2005 Prevention of Terrorism Act.

    The problem with fighting a war on terror is that it’s in many ways a war on ideas. The IRA may have disbanded, but that didn’t stop terror from taking a new shape in the form of Al-Qaeda. Britain’s struggle against Irish dissidents may have been a good excuse for earlier anti-terror legislation, but Islamic radicalism is just as potent a threat.

    You Can’t Wage a War on an Idea

    In the United States the Cold War had barely ended before the threat of terrorism replaced it and, in some ways, became an even more urgent reason to expand government power at the expense of privacy and civil liberties. Unlike the Cold War, Americans have actually died in the War on Terror. Also unlike the Cold War, the enemy we face is not embodied in another country or people, but rather in a form.

    Terrorism is a tactic, not a state. It is used to create overreaction in its targets. The initial reaction by the US government to the 9/11 attacks was understandable but wrong-headed. Over a decade after that national tragedy, the government is still overreacting. Each time we allow our fear to undermine our freedom we concede to the very terrorists we hope to defeat.

    “The legislation could also give future presidents the authority to throw American citizens into prison for life without charges or a trial,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders in a statement. “This bill also contains misguided provisions that in the name of fighting terrorism essentially authorize the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens without charges. While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and the civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans.”

    Technology, Social Media, and Grassroots Activism Online Can Help Combat Bad Legislation

    Support for the National Defense Authorization Act is decidedly bipartisan. Opponents like Senator Sanders (an independent who describes himself as a socialist) and Rand Paul (a Republican and a libertarian) also come from both sides of the aisle.

    The same people tend to be opponents of other civil-liberty-quashing bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, two bills being debated in congress which would give the government and the industry sponsors of the bills broad new powers over the internet and freedom of speech online.

    To me, this underscores the need to look beyond politics as usual.

    Technology is changing the way institutions, governments, and individuals interact. The symmetry of power is shifting and governments and non-state actors alike are scrambling to keep up. Sometimes this creates real security threats.

    Hacking outfits like Anonymous present a real challenge to governments and corporations. At times these groups may act honorably, attempting to expose corruption. At times they may act without such noble intentions. Either way there is no denying that security is an issue going forward and that the overreaction of governments to a myriad security risks poses its own set of problems and challenges.

    I’ve written in the past that people concerned with civil liberties should begin to walk away from the old left-right dichotomy entirely and focus on electing civil libertarians to congress whether these are members of the left like Russ Feingold or of the right like Rand Paul. Of course, both Paul and Feingold will fall short of the ideal civil libertarian when it comes down to it, but both are a far cry better than 90% of their colleagues.

    We have few options available to us at this point. The NDAA may be challenged in the courts, and this will almost certainly happen if the president (or a future president) actually makes use of the powers related to US citizens. Even then, however, the courts could come down on either side. The Supreme Court is not exactly filled to the brim with civil libertarians.

    Until that time, however, we can try to abandon politics-as-usual and focus on electing politicians who care more about curtailing government excess than expanding government power endlessly in our never-ending War on Terror. And we can use technology, social media, and other tools at our disposal to act outside of politics altogether to work to create alternate institutions and communities.

    Look at what Reddit has done with its boycott of GoDaddy.com – now the online community is planning to unseat a congressman (or two or three) over the SOPA/PIPA legislation. The power of online activism is only just emerging. Technology may only be a tool, but I think we’ll discover that it’s a powerful one.

    Follow me on Twitter and Facebook or Google+. Read my Forbes blog here.
  2. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act. We on this page are already compromised.

    The following are just some of the justifications which allow the government to order any agency including the US Military to declare you and me "An Enemy Combatant."

    1. Possession of "water proof ammunition" Ammunition need not be altered since it is water proof enough, straight out of the box, to qualify.

    2. Possession of more than seven days of food. No more stocking up at Sam's because something is on sale.

    3. Statements or "Activities" that may "Undermine confidence in the Government."
    The government gets to decide what constitutes such statements or activities and is specifically instructed not to divulge what the criteria are.

    4. Ownership of more than one fire arm, especially "Assault Type" rifles or "Tactical" Weapons. These fire arms need not be actually capable of full auto. Just looking like an assault rifle is or possession of a shotgun with a pistol grip is enough.

    Possession of fire arms capable of accepting High Capacity magazines. This so far means over 10 rounds.

    You need not have high capacity magazines. If your firearm can accept such magazines you qualify. If you own a Glock you automatically qualify. Even if you are in compliance with your State's law. This is Federal Law and supersedes State Law.

    Having posted this and many other things elsewhere I now qualify for "Detention" without trial. In a secret prison. That the government is allowed by law to deny even exists. This has already happened to American born citizens.

    I may be subjected to all the treatment, including psychoactive drugs, water boarding and techniques specifically designed to drive a normally sane person into psychosis. This too has already happened to American born citizens.

    These things began under the "Patriot Act." This new law expands on the Patriot Act enormously.

    Only 3 Senators voted against this law. So much for the "Tea Party" standing up for us, ever, about anything.

    Repression and the implementation of a Police State has already begun under the "Patriot Act." The new law goes further. The "Homeland" has been declared a "Battle Field."

    Recently people were arrested and incarcerated in Orlando Florida for "Intent to feed" in a public park. They were not feeding Occupy Movement people. The food was for the homeless.

    Law enforcement is now receiving direct assistance from Drone aircraft capable being armed with many types of weapons.

    Drones have already been used to effect the arrest of people accused of stealing cattle and being "Right Wing Extremists." Did they steal cattle? The government (which has never lied before) insists they did.

    The new Police State in America acknowledges armed drone aircraft will use suchweapons against American Citizens.

    New technology now in use by the military is migrating to Law Enforcement. It uses computerized programs to analyze "Intent to harm" and directs "Preemptive strikes "Before harm can be done."

    We now need not do anything illegal. We need not even be accused. If it appears we "intend" to break the law we may now be killed "before we do harm."

    America has ended. Not by attacks from without but by betrayal from within. What The British, Hitler, Japan, Stalin, Khrushchev, Mao and all the others were unable to accomplish our politicians have done.

    Do not be deceived. This is not a Liberal, Obama agenda. It began with George W. Bush who received overwhelming Democrat support. It continues through Barak Obama receiving overwhelming Republican support. Only 3 Senators voted against this law.

    We once lived in a Republic. We once had a Nation. We now have a "Homeland" it is now a "Battlefield." We are indeed at war with terror. The terror of our own government.

    Welcome to Amerika. Land of the Once Free. I hope to God it is still home of those brave enough to return us to Liberty.
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