Monday, October 15, 2012

A Law so Terrifying, It Sounds Like a Made-Up Conspiracy Theory Cooked Up by Some Crazy Guy on the Internet


Long, complex language, especially in the form of law, has never been my cup of tea. Not only is it not entertaining, I don't have much practice interpreting law, so it takes me multiple reads just to wrap my mind around the meaning.

{I'm no lawyer.}

I'm no constitutional law professor. I've never even had the desire to take a beginning law class.

Spending my life interpreting the meaning of other people who want to affect public policy sounds plain awful.

I've made a decision though. However dulls-ville it is to try to wrap my mind around 1,100 page laws, I can't ignore them.

Cause however much I might not enjoy reading laws, they affect me, and everyone I know and love. And these laws don't just affect me in simple ways.

They can, potentially, destroy my life.That's right, I said it. And, as they stand, they may have already destroyed a few lives.

So I pay attention.

Now that I know about one law in particular, I'm terrified. I can't shut up, either. If I enlighten even one person about it, I'll have some comfort.

But you know what else? A very wise man, Victor Hugo once wrote,
 "Not being heard is no reason for silence."

I've found I agree with him. I can't, in good conscience, remain silent about this any longer.

This law, as it currently stands, allows our government to do something so horrendous, its makes me question whether I could be living in some horrible dream.

New laws and regulations are made on a daily basis, by our local, state and national governments. And whether we want to pay attention to the language found in these laws or not, we are not only expected to follow them, these laws can even end up affecting us in ways we never dreamed possible. For example, the recent "Affordable Healthcare Act" or "Obamacare" as it is commonly called, has 906 pages. And if you think every page has something to say about healthcare, you're mistaken. The Bill has new regulations and taxes on all kinds of things, including home ownership.

But I'm not writing this to criticize the Healthcare mandate. I'm talking about another law.

I hope I've built up the law that goes bump in the night enough for you.

Now to get serious.

First, I'll talk about the law's words as they're written that are most concerning.

The NDAA, or National Defense Authorization Act, was signed into law by Barack Obama on December 31st, 2011. It was drafted by Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), before being passed in a closed-door committee meeting without any kind of hearing.

"Subtitle D" of that law, titled "Counterterrorism" and, beneath SEC. 1021  part (a), under section 2, are the following words, "including any person who has committed a belligerent act."  The following power is then granted, to deal with said belligerent persons,
(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force. 

Careful reading of this law exposes this sobering fact: if you commit an act which is "belligerent," the United States government now has the power to deny you a trial, a lawyer, and may hold you, as long as they like, which, in theory, could mean the rest of your life. 

Now, Webster's Dictionary currently defines the word belligerent as "inclined to or exhibiting assertiveness, hostility, or combativeness." I've also seen belligerent used in place of "aggressive." Given the meaning of the word, who among us has not been "belligerent" at one point or another? I find myself practicing assertiveness on a daily basis.

But the real heebie-jeebies start when I look at what this means the government can do to anyone who they feel has acted belligerently.

Due Process
First, a history lesson.
Many agree that some of the most despicable acts in history were committed by the Nazi party. They executed people, as depicted above, by shooting them over a pit. Those executed we given no trial.

This was the least of their atrocious crimes against their fellow men.

One of the reasons the world even knows about the horrendous acts of the Nazis, are the Nuremberg Trials.

Some truly heinous acts were exposed during these trials.

These trials are an example of due process. Something that's defined in the Bill of Rights, which are "endowed by our creator..." and "inalienable."

Last I checked, they never amended these. They're non-negotiable. What they're doing, though "legal" to them, is unlawful to We the People.

Article VI, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial..."

The Nazis denied men, women, and children due process.

But, after WWII, the allied forces did not deny the perpetrators of these horrendous acts a trial.

If the Allied forces thought that the highest ranking Nazis, who were the masterminds behind the slaughter of, human experimentation on, and deprivation of property of men, women, and children, worthy of a trial; who, I ask, deserves to have this fundamental human right stripped from them?

Remember that slippery slope people are always warning us about?

Yeah, um, I know it's a logical fallacy. But here are a couple things to ponder.

This image was snapped by a photographer in an undisclosed location of Iraq.
The man and his son are being held by the military without due process.

Now, I'm not here to make any judgements about this, because doing so often gets me called "anti-miltary." It makes me look like a military-hating extremist. Let me be clear - I understand the concept of following orders. I get that the military has certain powers during wartime for dealing with prisoners.

But, while I may not necessarily understand current military practices, or why they are acceptable, I can still feel empathetic humanity when seeing an image like this, taken of prisoners of war.

I can also realize that my government now has the power to order the military to do this here - on the mainland - to any belligerent individual they feel deserves it.


People wiser than I am, constitutional law experts, judges, high-ranking members of the government and military and CIA experts, have done their best to expose and oppose the National Defense Authorization Act.

 Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta,

CIA Director David Petraeus

FBI Director Robert Mueller
 The ACLU did too. So did Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

The Senate, House, and President ignored them all.

Chris Hedges is a hero for going after this law, Atticus Finch style.

He is the main lawyer who's sued to get this horrendous law overturned.  A judge ruled in his favor, but the law is currently still in effect.

You can follow the case here.

As of right now, President Obama has sued to keep section 1021 in the bill. The above linked site says, "On October 2, 2012, a stay against the permanent injunction was granted by a three judge motions panel of the Second District US Court of Appeals, pending appeal on the merits. Appeal briefs are due to the court on November 2, 2012 and December 3, 2012."

This is Amber Lyon

Amber has been doing her darndest to expose the truth about NDAA. She doesn't work for CNN anymore, they laid her off.

I'll let you in on a secret. Even though I never wanted to be a lawyer, I've wanted to be an investigative journalist for quite some time now.

Amber Lyon's quote describes how I feel about journalism exactly,  "I got into journalism to expose, not help conceal wrongdoing, and I’m not willing to keep quiet about this any longer."

I wish there were more journalists in this world like her.

The Oath of Office


The members of our government take an oath to  "preserve, protect and defend" our constitution. Last I checked, the Articles found in the Bill of Rights were never amended. As far as I am concerned, they are the rule of law. I think it's time we hold the members of our government accountable for their oaths. Anyone else?

Monday, April 20, 2009

The PATRIOT Act Rears its Ugly Head

I said it before and I'll say it again: The scariest part about the recent Department of Homeland Security memo for me is that it abuses the system set into place to protect us.

An obnoxious side note to this is that many who cried foul on the left that the Bush administration would abuse the measures which were set in place during the "War on Terror" and use them against American citizens in a Big Brother-like manner are now stonily silent as the head of the Department of Homeland security raises the alarm that millions of regular Americans are terror threats. Those described in the DHS Report's only crime is serving their country in the military, holding supposed "Right-wing Extremist" viewpoints and/or exercising their constitutionally protected rights to question their government and gather in groups of protest in order to do so.

The recent infamous anti-Right Wing, anti-military report was a rude awakening for many of us. Now that we've seen the Department of Homeland security abusing this system, I ask you: What's stopping them from using the Patriot Act in the same manner?

This is what the Patriot Act is, and allows the government to do:

The PATRIOT Act, which is an acronym for Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism, permits the following:

-Secret FBI and Police searches of homes and offices.

-Secret government wiretaps on phones, computers and/or Internet activity.

-Secret investigations of bank records, credit cards and other financial records.

-Secret investigations of library and book activities.

-Secret examinations of medical records.

-The freezing of funds and assests without prior notice or appeal.

And, many of us, myself included, thought that this patriot act would probably only be used on those who were suspected of Terrorism. Namely, involved in Islamofascist terror groups.

And now, the system which is meant to warn American citizens of actual terrorist actions similar to the 9/11 attacks is being used against many of those same Americans to declare them as being dangerous.

Since the new Department of Homeland Security seems not to care about releasing publicly the measures set in place by the Bush administration that are meant to be seen publicly, I wonder, what would stop them from spying on our internet activities, our emails and phone lines, and conduct searches of our homes and offices, merely because we are, Pro-Life, Anti-Illegal Immigration, or have any number of the many ideals one could hold under the broad umbrella of the "Right-Wing?"

And according to a recent Northeast Intelligence Network report, the FBI has been doing just that. They had cameras and surveillance of the events, specifically targeting TEA party participants. One heroic FBI agent risked his livelihood in order to make this information known. According to him, “The implications to the citizens of the U.S. are ominous. It seems that there is a hostile political agenda coming from Washington that characterizes the supporters of our constitutional freedoms as threats to our domestic security, which is totally absurd. The redirection, the refocusing of domestic threats from al Qaeda cells to ‘flag waving right-wingers’ is something that has gone from a murmur a few years ago to a roar today.”

Scary, scary stuff. Which leads me to mournfully ask why?
Man oh man, Bush administration, man oh man congress, why did you ever pass that darn Patriot act? Can't you see that even if your intents were noble, that even if you were going to use the measures toward fighting the War on Terror, that future administrations could come along and use the system differently than you intended it to be used? All my paranoid Libertarian friends' words are coming back to haunt me, and they just won't quit!