12.14.2011 1

The new defense bill… R.I.P. due process

By Rebecca DiFede — On Dec. 1 the Senate passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act; a $662 billion Defense bill.

That’s typical. But what’s not is that one portion of the bill may take tyranny and governmental control to a whole new level. Critics have said the legislation would give the military the power to lock up any and all suspected terrorists, whether captured here or abroad, citizen or not, and hold them indefinitely.

If your face is frozen in terror, don’t worry. That’s totally normal.

In an attempt to save the rights of United States citizens, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) insisted on an amendment that stated that the current laws on the detention of citizens would stand, and in extreme cases the Supreme Court can decide if a waiver (as allowed by the bill) would be granted. It passed easily 99 to 1.

Feinstein even attempted to introduce a provision into the bill that the military indefinite hold only be applied to those captured outside the U.S., but the vote was denied. The majority of the Senate, it seems, didn’t really want to outright prohibit the military from being able to lock up citizens left and right.

The Obama Administration, for its part, has threatened to veto the legislation, saying the provisions don’t go far enough and will hamper law enforcement. Despite Obama’s veto threats, the bill passed 93-7 and is now being reviewed by the House.

But with waivers, there are so many loopholes in this bill that if the government suspects that you were involved in somehow supporting something related to an Al-Qaeda-esque organization, they can find a way to get the Secretary of Defense to write a waiver for you, sending you off to prison before the ink dries on your arraignment — and then perhaps the Supreme Court might save you.

As Senator Dick Durbin put it, “The Supreme Court will decide who can be detained; the United States Senate will not,” Durbin said.

If this bill passes the House and the President fails to veto it as promised, it will create a situation where at any moment, martial law can be invoked — putting every person’s freedom in jeopardy.

If there is even the smallest inkling that someone is connected to some form of terrorism they can be arrested, detained without being Mirandized, and not let out until the military decides to release them (or charge them).

As any student of American History can tell you, our founding fathers drafted the Constitution to protect us from the tyrannical grip of English rule. They wanted to make sure that in America, soldiers wouldn’t be able to come after the general population and round up everyone they think seems guilty without just cause.

The Fifth Amendment was designed to do just that; give us the right to due process so that we are guaranteed to be treated fairly when we are arrested. The rights of the accused are a cornerstone in the foundation of our country, and one of the things that separates us from the rest of the uncivilized world.

If this bill is passed, it could render the Fifth Amendment and all its protections completely irrelevant.

This idea unravels some of the basic tenets of our Constitution, and goes back on the very ideas our country was founded upon. It then comes as no surprise that Congress only sustains a 12 percent approval rating, while 82.5 percent disapprove of the way they’re handling the country. And I suspect trampling the constitution will only further diminish the faith of Americans in our men and women in Congress.

Hopefully Obama does what he said (for once) and vetoes this bill, lest it pass both houses and become one of the most terrifying laws this side of Nazi Germany.

Rebecca DiFede is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government.

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