(Although recent, this bombshell article by new contributor Jenaine Molloff made the top five. -Ed.)
by Jeanine Molloff
December 1st, 2011, the US Senate accomplished the unthinkable–with the nearly unanimous passage of the National Defense Authorization Bill of 2012–they committed treason. Written and planned in secret by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the newly minted NDAA contains three sections which collectively sanctions indefinite detention of alleged terrorists or ‘terrorist sympathizers’–anywhere in the world including the US– and designates the military the duty to arrest, imprison and interrogate without benefit of counsel,’ accused civilians here on Main Street. Ironically, the abuse of civilian Iraqis by our military and by military contractors is coming to a locale near you. Theoretically, armed squads of US soldiers might be knocking on your door in the dead of night to take away Auntie Mame for her alleged ‘terrorist’ activities—at the ACLU. This bill potentially allows for the blatant political prosecutions of any dissenter using the military as a bully club to instill deep fear in any who dare to question our government’s motives.
No proof of wrongdoing is required and those accused are denied the due process right of trial by their peers, or the services of an attorney– and are subsequently relegated to the ‘military commissions justice system.’ As a result–the accused are reduced to the status of ‘unlawful enemy combatant,’ and are subject to the following actions: ‘extroardinary rendition’, ‘enhanced interrogation’ procedures, ‘indefinite detention to possibly a life sentence, and ‘presidential assigned extermination of target’ . These powers are then ‘given’ to the President to use at will, fully codified in law,while requiring in reality no proof other than presidential whim.
It is at this juncture that I find the timing of this bill suspicious–coinciding with the exponential growth of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, the recent implosion of both EU and US economies, the emerging body of proof documenting Wall Street’s enormous crimes, and the Super Committee threat to cut military funding. It almost looks like the robber barons of Wall Street ‘circling the wagons’ in a fit of legislative revenge against the rabble, namely you and I.
History of NDAA 2012 Sections 1031, 1032, and 1033-35…another AUMF
This bill was co- written by the powerful Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator Carl Levin (D) and the Senate Minority Leader John McCain, with Senator Lindsey Graham assigning himself as main cheerleader. The deliberations were kept secret and any debate was forbidden. Crafted under the auspices of keeping our nation ‘safe from terrorism’—the entire world including the US is now classified as a battlefield with indefinite timelines. Anyone broaching the question of due process rights is shouted down as ‘soft on terrorism’—mainly by Senator Graham. In fact, here is an example of how Senator Graham views the issues of due process rights:
…”If you’re an American citizen and you betray your country, you’re going to be questioned about what you know,” …”and you’re not going to be given a lawyer if our national security interests dictate that you not be given a lawyer and go into the criminal justice system, because ‘we’re not fighting crime, we’re fighting a war.”
What should have been an ordinary defense appropriations bill morphed into a ‘get out of jail free’ card for this president and any others, after arbitrarily rendering previously constitutionally protected dissent into a war crime. The NDAA or S. 1867 allows any president the right to sentence anyone including US citizens to ‘indefinite detention’ in a military prison. Those sentenced under this new ‘law’ are sentenced without a trial or the aid of an attorney. They have no due process rights other than what the ‘military justice’ system allows any other ‘unlawful enemy combatant. Bluntly put—even American citizens accused—but not tried and found guilty—can be sent to Guantanamo. Confronted with this possibility by Tea Party Senator Rand Paul—Senator McCain gave a casual answer.
Senator Rand Paul: “My question would be under the provisions would it be possible that an American citizen then could be declared an enemy combatant and sent to Guantanamo Bay and detained indefinitely.”
Senator John McCain: “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 that threat.”
This development would have remained secret–except for the whistleblowing of the ACLU earlier in the week right before Thanksgiving. Again, the silence coming from the US Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by democratic Senator Carl Levin and assisted by Senate Minority Leader Senator John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham, was deafening.
Sections 1031, 1032 and 1033-35….
What has been referred to in a mundane legalese style as ‘Section 1031′ is a renewal of the 2001 AUMF or the Authorization to Use Military Force amended with sneaky, ill defined expansions of the original language: ie. allowing military force and military detention against previously identified perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, the countries allegedly harboring them and anyone who “substantially supports” Al Qaeda, the Taliban or…”associated forces.” The magic words which define this Orwellian doublespeak legalese are the phrases: ‘substantially supports’ and ‘associated forces.’
Nowhere in this herculean piece of legislation do we find any concrete criterion clearly establishing the definition of …’substantial support’ or ‘associated forces.’ The fact that this bill was written by Carl Levin, an acknowleged civil rights attorney, with language so vague, constitutes what can only be described as premeditated fraud–and serves as poignant testimony to the cowardly and treasonous nature of the US Senate in 2011. It is ironic that the majority of senators are attorneys who would never sign on to the flimsy and vague criterion they have imposed on everyone else.
Section 1033-35 forces new restrictions on the government’s ‘right’ to transfer ‘detainees’ out of Gitmo to another site.
Section 1032 is the most vile change of all–it mandates that every person accused of ‘terrorism’ or ‘terrorist sympathies’ or substantially supports’ ‘associated forces’ will be indefinitely imprisoned by the militaryy as opposed to the civilian criminal justice system. So, it appears that Bradley Manning during his Gitmo days would have had plenty of civilian room mates compliments of the US Senate. All of this power will now be concentrated in the president’s hands.
The Semantic Trap of NDAA….
Now Senator Levin’s office has vehemently denied that American citizens would be included in these new provisions regarding military detention, explaining that …”Section 1032 does not mandate military custody and it does not tie the Administration’s hands, because it includes a national security waiver which expressly allows any suspect to be held in civilian custody. Nothing would be automatic: the Administration would have the discretion to waive military detention and hold a detainee in civilian custody if it decided to do so.”
Senator Levin’s reassurances are not only disingenuous–they are patently absurd as constitutional scholar Glenn Greenwald points out.
…”The Levin-McCain bill would require that all accused terrorists be held in military detention and not be charged in a civilian court–including those apprehended on US soil–with two caveats: (1) it exempts US citizens and legal residents from this mandate, for whom military detention would still be optional (ie. , in the discretion of the executive branch), and (2) it allows the Executive Branch to issue a waiver if it wants to charge an accused terrorist in the civilian system.”
‘Like many dirty deals—the ‘devil is in the details. Notice how the President would still have the prerogative to place American citizens in military detention—it does not forbid the placement of American citizens into military detention. Subsequently, the vague reassurances of Senator Levin’s ring hollow. The quote of Sen. Levin’s defense was taken from a speech referenced by his press secretary Tara Landringa.
Frankly, I fail to see the legitimacy of Levin’s claim–it’s reminiscent of Nixon’s “I am not a crook” speech or Bill Clinton’s tortuous explanation of the meaning of the word ‘is’ –is. Yet, the entire US Senate voted to retain these unconstitutional and amoral provisions which allow for a military/presidential dictatorship. Only seven senators voted against this bill, namely Senators Coburn, Harkin, Lee, Merkley, Paul, Sanders and Wyden. These seven senators are to be thanked–with the rest of the senate impeached and criminally prosecuted for Treason.
Obama administration weighs in….
President Obama has been threatening a veto of this bill—but only since the story leaked out. White House spokesman Jay Carney issued a statement which articulated the president’s concerns.
…”Any bill that challenges or constrains the president’s critical authority to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists and protect the nation will prompt his senior advisors to recommend a veto.”
Notice, there is no concern about the revokation of due process rights or the establishment of the military policing our civilian communities. Where is the ‘constitutional scholar’ Obama claimed to be? While it is a bit reassuring that the president states he will veto this bill–he is doing so for the wrong reasons. Not once has he denounced the illegitimacy of the entire enterprise.
NDAA heads back to the House of Representatives and companion bill H.R. 1540
Little does the public know that this entire vicious circle began with the companion bill in the House of Representatives, introduced this past May, namely HR 1540, sponsored by Congressman Howard McKeon, a close personal friend of Speaker Boehner’s. The House version of the NDAA was actually the initial volley into codifying presidentially ordered indefinite war, minus any expiration date via the subterfuge of a ‘Sleeper Provision’.
Section 1034 of HR 1540—granting presidential power to wage indefinite war…
Section 1034 of the House National Defense Authority bill is that very ‘sleeper provision,’ granting any president the right to wage indefinite war. The wording is intentionally vague which allows great latitude in interpretation. Here is the sentence in question from Section 1034:
…”The Authorization for Use of Military Force necessarily includes the authority to address the continuing and evolving threat posed by these groups.”
The groups included in this ‘sleeper’ provision are, namely Al Qaeda, the Taliban and a nondescript listing labeled “associated forces.” The vague nature of the language is the key to further insulating the executive from any accusations of wrongdoing. “Associated forces” could mean anyone—there is no criterion established to prove or disprove the President’s word. Furthermore, this President and any future presidents can and will hide behind the mantra of ‘classified information’ and ‘national security.’ The terms ‘continuing ‘ and ‘evolving threat’ also fit neatly into the legal realm of a dictator answerable to no one. A ‘continuing’ and ‘evolving threat’ presents no timeline, no expiration dates. Section 1034 grants any president a blank check to wage indefinite war against anyone, anwhere, at any time. The ACLU spoke out against Section 1034 back in May of 2011 when it was still in committee. Here is the ACLU legal team’s opinion on the dangers posed by Section 1034:
…”Unlike previous grants of authority for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the proposed legislation would allow a president to use military force whenever terrorism suspects are present in the world, regardless of whether there has been any harm to US citizens, or any attack on the United States, or any imminent threat of an attack. The legislation is broad enough to permit a president to use military force within the US and against Americans. The legislation contains no expiration date, and no criteria to determine when a president’s authority to use military force would end.”
To President Obama’s credit, the ACLU explained in May that his administration did not seek this power. The Obama administration made it clear that the tools to fight ‘terrorism’ were adequate as stated in the previous AUMF (Authorization to Use Military Force).
Section 1034 accomplishes one additional goal—it guarantees the continuous need for military arms and ‘associated supplies’ through the doctrine of endless war. No Super Committee cuts to arms manufacturers here—a president ‘friendly’ to the needs of corporations like Raytheon, Boeing, Blackwater (now called Xe), Halliburton, etc…will insure a constant flow of military contractor contracts, while Granny eats catfood and little Johnny works as an ‘assistant janitor.’
Once again, there is no public denouncement of this bill—whether the Senate or House version–no major media figures have brought this critical attack on democracy itself to the public. We finally hear about ‘Occupy Wall Street’ but no one outside of the alternative media has mentioned this developing story.
The one point all of these ‘honorable’ legislators fail to comprehend is the simple fact that we shouldn’t be having this conversation at all. The justification of ‘indefinite detention’ for those merely accused but not tried in a legitimate court of law–is beyond obscenity. The use of our own military against our citizens to police and force compliance in a presidential/military dictatorship, complete with powers to wage endless war—is nothing short of a military/political coup—an act of treason. In short, the US Senate and the House of Representatives—are in the process of establishing a military dictatorship. Any senators or congressman supporting this or merely remaining silent are as guilty as Levin, McCain, Graham and McKeon. As Dr. King explained, there comes a time when silence equals betrayal.
European law which granted similar powers…
Senators Graham, Levin, McCain and Congressman McKeon–along with the US Senate and House of Representatives are in ‘good company’with other alleged ‘republics’—mandating the suspension of civil liberties in the name of national security. In part of what is now called the EU– another law advocating indefinite detention of alleged terrorists while simultaneously nullifying a person’s civil rights to a trial was similarly defended. Corporate manufacturers of military armaments and military supplies used this law to guarantee continued profits through a similar use of continued war.
The name of the law was ‘The Notverordnung zum Schutz von Volk und Staat (Decree For the Protection of People and State). The principle architect of this law was Reich President von Hindenburg– under the dictate of Adolf Hitler.
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Jeanine Molloff is a veteran urban educator specializing in communications disorders. She moonlights as a political commentator on various issues including civil liberties in an age of ‘terrorism’, ecological justice, collateral damage in war zones, economic equity and education. Jeanine has published with Huffington Post, OpEdNews, FireDogLake, Counterpunch and Huffington Post Union of Bloggers. In an era of state and corporate sanctioned censorship; she believes that journalism which demands answers to the tough questions is the last remaining bulwark of democracy. Now more than ever we need the likes of I.F. Stone over the insipid voices of celebrity infotainment. Jeanine works and lives in St. Louis, Missouri.