The Constitution is on the line this week
I received this update from the Campaign for Liberty today…
You and I both know that freedom is not free. Its price cannot be measured in dollars – and its defense requires eternal vigilance.
On December 1, the U.S. Senate passed S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), by a vote of 93-7.
A slightly different NDAA, H.R. 1540, had already passed the U.S. House in May, and it has been reconciled with the Senate version in a closed session of a Joint Conference Committee.
The NDAA is passed annually to specify the budget and expenditures for the U.S. Department of Defense, but this year's version would essentially strip American Citizens of due process – protections that used to set us apart from despotic nations.
The Senate version of the NDAA declares the homeland to be part of the battlefield in the "War on Terror."
In simple terms, Sections 1031 and 1032 of S. 1867 allow American citizens to be detained indefinitely – without charges or trial – until the War on Terror is declared over.
There has been some recent confusion over what exactly the Senate bill actually stipulates.
In fact, when you call your representative and BOTH of your senators, as I'm about to ask you to do, the staff will probably give you one of two canned responses:
1.) "The Feinstein amendment #1456, which passed on Dec. 1 (by a vote of 99-1), says that no provision of Sec. 1031 can be taken to "affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens."
In reality, this was added nearly unanimously at the last minute to appease those of us rightly opposed to these detention provisions. In the Congressional Record that day, there are arguments from Senators Lindsey Graham and Carl Levin, both of whom supported this amendment, stating they believe the President and Congress already have the authority to detain American Citizens, since the Supreme Court hasn't yet ruled otherwise. This is not the case, but it explains why the bill's main supporters did not oppose the Feinstein amendment.
2.) "It already exempts American Citizens. You should know that Sec. 1032 actually states: "The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States."
Don't fall for their cleverly chosen legislative language.
A careful reading of the suspect sections bears out that, while there is no requirement to detain an American citizen, the act thereof is not explicitly prohibited. By extension, it is actually permitted.
As if the above is not bad enough, the power to determine which American citizens will be indefinitely detained without charges or trial will be left to the President alone.
I'm certain you would agree that something as important as overturning longstanding American jurisprudence deserves to be the subject of a vigorous debate in a public forum.
But, late last week, the House, by an overwhelming majority (406-17), passed a motion that allowed this Joint Committee to meet in secret.
Last night, the House and Senate conferees emerged without having changed the offending detainee provisions of the NDAA.
And the section numbers (formerly 1031 and 1032) have been changed to 1021 and 1022.
A vote on the conference report could come as early as this Wednesday in the House of Representatives!
Filed under Civil Liberties by VicBils