America is One Signature away from a ‘Lawful’ Police State
December 15, 2011 1 Comment
After Senate Bill 1867, also known as the Indefinite Detention legislation made its way through the House of Representatives earlier this week and through the Senate tonight, Americans are that much closer to becoming legal enemies of the state.
By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
December 15, 2011
UPDATE 12/16/11 12:00 S.1867 will also allow the Department of Defense to ‘lawfully’ wage war on the internet. The law will permit the government to attack cyber enemies. Congress confirms that the Pentagon has the capacity to, at the request of the president, will conduct cyberwar operations to “defend the Nation, Allies and other interests”. (1) the policy principles and legal regimes that the Department follows for kinetic capabilities, including the law of armed conflict; and (2) the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.). Read more on the cyber Police State here. END OF UPDATE
It is not new that run-away oppressive states tend to employ illegal practices by stealth before they implement them widely. The passage of legislation that partially or fully destroy constitutional and civil rights is simply the codification of an already well established status quo. This happened many times in recent history, but people don’t learn from it because they ignore history.
Although president Barack H. Obama warned with vetoing the bill if it survived the legislative process, he back-pedaled on that threat in less than a month. But Obama did not warn senators and representatives about the veto because he thought it was illegal or unconstitutional to waive all the legal framework that kept America free and brave. He threatened with the veto because the passage of S.1867 would legally strain powers that the office of the president already possesses; or at least Obama thinks it does. “The White House explained it would veto the bill because these provisions, mandating military custody amount to a restriction of president’s authority,” explained John Glaser, assistant editor at Antiwar.com on Russia Today television.
It was Senator Carl Levin, one of the sponsors of the approved bill, who explained on the Senate floor that it had been president Obama who had requested that S.1867 included Americans who lived in the United States in the bill, so that all of its provisions could also apply to them. The bill already contemplated applying its rules to Americans living abroad as well as anyone captured on American soil or overseas, who was deemed a terrorist. It was also Obama, who harshly criticized George W. Bush for what he called the illegal detention of people who were held without a formal accusation and were denied a proper trial. Obama also made it one of his campaign promises to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.
If S.1867 is signed by Obama into law, which could happen in the next 24 to 48 hours, it will give the US military the power to “disappear” American citizens for crimes that will never be made public. “If you look carefully at this legislation, if you have a family or a friend who publicizes that you’ve disappeared they too can be detained. If anybody helps you with a taxi ride or attempts to give assistance to your family in the circumstances of your disappearance, they too can be detained. This is the architecture of the fascist state,” says radio host Ralph Schoenman.
One of the most contested parts of the bill, which was challenged by at least 40 senators, says that “Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force, includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons pending depositions under the law of war.” Exactly 220 years after the U.S. Bill of Rights was approved, the Senate voted 86-13 in favor of giving the president and the Army the powers described above. Adding insult to injury, Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, spoke on the Senate floor right after the vote tool place and said with a straight face that he hoped that his colleagues believed America was part of the battlefield in the fight against… well, he did not say who; and that from now on, anyone alleged to be in opposition to the United States would be the subject of military-style detention. Graham’s speech resembled that of George W. Bush, who after 9/11 publicly announced that those who did not stood by the side of the United States, would stand against it in the fight against what he called terror.
The difference between Bush’s and Graham’s speeches is that Graham’s did not specify who would be granted more attention as suspects of terrorism or of supporting terrorist groups. He left it more open, more vague. He said: “anyone alleged to be in opposition to the United States”. Will public protest be considered as opposition? Will publishing articles that oppose the government’s policies be deemed as opposition? What does the government deem as opposition? Only the president and the military know that. Indeed, what S.1867 does is to legitimize the president’s authority to indefinitely detain an individual who is deemed a threat. It recognizes that the president, whoever it is, can hold anyone label as an enemy combatant, no matter where they are captured. “…because that only makes sense,” said Senator Carl Levin. Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham further taunted the civil and constitutional liberties now being destroyed by saying that denying Americans their due process would make everyone less safe. “It would serve as an unprecedented threat to our constitutional liberties.”Lindsey Graham went further to attack America’s legal system as inadequate because it allowed alleged terrorists to be treated as common criminals.
Putting it simply, what S.1867 does is to militarize the United States of America, as citizens who oppose government will be met with all the might of the Armed Forces. Although no one expects the government to enforce the new legislation against a conservative radio talk show host, people who don’t maw their lawns or Occupy Wall Street protestors just yet, it is clear the U.S. government will make its case to begin enforcing it as soon as it has a chance. Obama will use the same military that he commanded to war in Libya, without asking Congress to declare war, to catch fictitious terrorists who may have a plan -that no one will be able to verify- to blow a building or kill Americans.
As reported by Russia Today, under the legislation, a literal police state will be installed over the United States. Republican Congressman Ron Paul said earlier this week that “this should be the biggest news going right now,” as the legislation would allow for “literally legalizing martial law. This step where they can literally arrest American citizens and put them away without trial….is arrogant and bold and dangerous,” said congressman Paul.
None of the other Republican presidential candidates manifested their opposition to the indefinite detention bill. In fact, Newt Gingrich had already shown his support for practices that mirrored the provisions contained in the legislation just approved by Congress.
When a government gets away with capturing anyone without any proof that such person -citizen or not citizen- committed a crime; when it gives itself the prerogative to hold him/her indefinitely without a formal accusation; when it decides that is has the power to torture and murder because it considers it an effective measure to prevent or preempt a crime that has not happen, hope is lost. But worse than everything, when people let a government do all of this without a challenge; everything is lost.
Terror and the terrorists are everywhere and the world is the battlefield against them. That is both insane and clever. It is to prevent terror and terrorists from attacking us!, claim many willful ignorants. Al-Qaeda is everywhere and we need to be vigilant and protected!, claim the accomplices. That is why we must give away our human rights! We need to give liberty in exchange for security.
At our own peril! And if we do, we deserve everything we get!
For more information on the current state of criminal justice education, which helps shape the way laws such as this one are implemented, check out this resource that discusses criminology programs in America.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 15 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Learn more about Luis here.