Last week I was watching an independent news exit poll of predominately white middle aged to senior citizen voters being asked if they knew what the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was. Most of them much to my horror had never heard of it nor had the foggiest notion that the President of the United States had effectively signed away both their 4th and 6th Amendment rights just as all of America was happily looking forward to some New Year’s Day football. If somehow you missed the memo, the government can now throw you or anyone else into prison just because someone high enough up the totem pole believes you might be a threat. To do so they will label it terrorism but really it could apply to just about anything because no longer do they need justify your detention to anyone, not even the courts. No phone call to your lawyer, no bail, no court date, just prison for as long as they want. Hard to believe? It is all true.
To placate those who openly and loudly opposed it, those folks who understand this legislation is completely counter to rights clearly secured under habeas corpus and the promise of due process, the President signed this bill into law with what he referred to as “reservations”.
“The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it,” said the President. “I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”
It amazes me that in a world where a man’s word is no longer good for the smallest of transactions, where the expectation for even a simple purchase can involve a 12 page contract of rights and disclaimers for both buyer and seller, that anyone would just take the guy’s word for it? We’re not talking about the purchase of cell phone contract here. We’re talking about The Count of Monte Cristo style prison with no hope for escape and we’re supposed to believe ”Oh, don’t worry, I’m not going to use this law to throw anyone in prison indefinitely. Really folks, even though I signed it, I’m just kidding”? That holds about as much water as a bucket full of holes. What is wrong with people today? Two major pieces of the Constitution were signed away yet most are willing to believe that it is not going to be used against the people? If that were the case what would be the point of the law in the first place? There would be none. The government already had the ability to arrest and prosecute any U.S. citizen who committed an act of treason or terror. It is part of our judicial code for goodness sakes! Why do you need a provision which allows those in power to pick someone up and throw them in a dungeon forever without having to give some justification for it? Doesn’t this make you wonder why they needed this new law, especially in light of the fact that for the last decade they’ve been openly doing this to foreign nationals all over the world anyhow? Many of the men detained at Guantanamo had been “sold” to the military for as little as $1,000. Informants fingered men as collaborators of terrorist groups. Once rounded up and the bounty paid these unfortunates found themselves sequestered for years in places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay only later to be determined to have had nothing to do with terrorist organizations. Many were just poor unfortunates in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Desperate people, unscrupulous people will often sell their fellow man out for a few dollars. Imagine what will happen when the Department of Homeland Security comes up with a bounty program like the military where they pay for information on potential problems? We have a lot of people in this country now who could really use a few hundred dollars. It doesn’t even take a reward to get people to do things that are wrong. Want to get rid of a pesky neighbor? Woman down the street been eyeing your husband? Someone owe you money? Exact a little revenge and tell your local local Homeland Security representative that you think they may be involved in some sort of nefarious plot. It doesn’t take much imagination to turn a normal person into a virtual terrorist. All you need to do to see an example of this kind of mentality is to go to any large airport and watch a few 6 year olds being patted down by the TSA or 85 year olds being stripped searched to understand how ridiculous things can get even in what now has already become day to day life.
Just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any worse along comes H.R. 347, or the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011”. This one though is a law which makes it a felony to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time in the presence of someone who is for lack of better wording, vastly more important than yourself. I know that sounds odd to say but this is the deal. If you are protesting or making a scene or just in a place where a person who is in the protection of the secret service happens to be, then you can be charged with a felony for making a disruption. You don’t even have to be aware that this person is in the vicinity. You can just be rounded up, carted off even if you had a permit to protest. This is the end of just being a nuisance protestor. Used to be you would get hauled down to the police station in the paddy wagon only to be charged with a misdemeanor. No more. Now we’re talking about full frontal, career ending felony charges.
It is not as though it wasn’t already illegal for anyone not invited to enter and stay in a place where government officials or foreign dignitaries, those privileged enough to be under the protection of the Secret Service would be visiting. As it stood though, you had to be aware that it was illegal and what areas were restricted. Not only that but you would have to ignore those restrictions, knowingly and willfully breaking the law to be charged. That’s all well and good. If you are forewarned you would be in violation of a law it makes sense you risk arrest, the possible charge of misdemeanor trespassing and fine. This new law though makes it illegal to be in the wrong place at that wrong time even if you are completely unaware of the presence of government royalty. It also covers the residences of both the President and the Vice President which too were previously covered by local D.C. law and carried misdemeanor charges for violations. Ignorance of the fact that you’re not supposed to be in a specific place just because someone more important than yourself happens to be in a certain area is ludicrous. This is the ultimate no excuse for ignorance ever devised. Also the areas this can cover, well that’s conspicuously vague and by design. I can imagine an entire city block and multiple city blocks deemed restricted. Not only that but any event of “national importance” can also fall under this same provision. So basically any sort of protest or gathering of people could be viewed as falling under this law. Basically this means that if you want to protest the Democratic National Convention, the Republican National Convention, a meeting of the G20, World Bank, the New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys you’re facing felony charges to speak your mind. Imagine being in a crowd at a parade where someone of government importance is riding in a convertible, you get in a argument with someone on the sidewalk or appear to be creating some sort of disturbance and find yourself being escorted away by 4 men in black with dark sunglasses and ear phones. Under the ambiguity of this law they can do it and your entire life ruined by a felony record.
What you are seeing here is basically the Patriot Act being codified one step at a time. The powers of the Patriot Act are now being broadened and defined. Are you surprised that 399 people voted “yea” for this? Oh yes, I almost forgot. Who are the 399? Well they’re almost the entirey of your U.S. Congress who just swept away a goodly portion of 235 year’s worth of your 1st Amendment rights last week. Only three Congressmen had the stones to vote no, Paul Broun (R-GA), Justin Amash (R- M) and Ron Paul (R-TX). Thirty didn’t bother to vote at all. Even thought this was a Republican sponsored bill there wasn’t one Democrat who stood against it. Not surprisingly, two of the three no voters also voted no on NDAA which passed with 322 “ayes”, 96 “nays” and 13 not voting. On most issues the Congress is decidedly split along party lines except when it comes to trampling constitutional rights or bailing out banks. This is where the puppet show is seen for what it is. The division of parties is no more than two heads of the same hydra. They can’t agree on a national budget but by golly they’ll not hesitate to trample your freedom and do it resoundingly together.
A government so afraid of its people that it must make peaceful assembly and expression of free speech near or around its anointed politicians a felony crime is a government no longer of the people. Righteous and honest government does not fear its constituents.
Here’s the good news! Fortunately there are already movements within the state governments to nullify such laws. Nullification is part of states rights doctrine, meaning that sovereign states can refuse to recognize or enforce federal laws passed by the U.S. Congress. Virginia just passed Virginia House Bill 1160 (HB1160), the “NDAA Nullification Act” by a margin of 39 – 1. They don’t plan on playing this game and neither do many other state and local governments. While this Virginia bill (still yet to be signed into law) doesn’t allow state government agencies to block Federal Authorities from carrying out the arrest and detention of American citizens suspected of terrorism, it does prohibit their own agencies including police, sheriffs, active military and reserves from assisting in the act. It’s not perfect but it surely is a step toward complete nullification of the law and potentially preventing it being carried out on Virginia soil. In Rhode Island, state Representative Daniel P. Gordon Jr. has drafted a resolution to nullify NDAA. In Tennessee two bills have been introduced in the 2012 session, HB1629 and SB2669 . Not only would it for all practical purposes nullify the detention provisions of NDAA but would require any federal agents attempting to make arrests in the state obtain prior written permission from the county sheriff! It would also make “.. it a Class E felony for any official, agent, or employee of the United States government to enforce or attempt to enforce any federal law, order, rule or regulation that is beyond the authority granted to the federal government pursuant to the United States Constitution,” and tack on kidnapping charges if a federal agent were to detain a citizen in the state of Tennessee under NDAA. On January 30, five representatives in Washington state introduced H.B. 2759 with similar language. All tolled now there are more than a dozen state and local governments with NDAA nullifications movements afoot according to the 10th Amendment Center, “Currently 7 local governments have passed resolutions ranging from a denouncement of the federal act in three Colorado counties to requiring noncompliance with it in places like Fairfax, CA and Northampton, MA. And, 7 states are currently considering legislation like Virginia’s – all based off the model legislation provided by the Tenth Amendment Center, the Liberty Preservation Act.“. Anyone can use the LIberty Preservation Act template and send to your state representatives requesting they introduce NDAA nullification legislation in your state. Please follow the link for information and then follow through by contacting your state congressional representatives and senators about nullification. Call and write your U.S. congressional and senatorial representatives and tell them you’re disgusted by their total disregard for the Constitution and their dereliction of duty to uphold it. It’s their JOB to protect the Constitution of the United States. Nothing happens until something moves and if your representatives haven’t already you’re going to have to be the one who initiates motion. I would imagine in those states where we are seeing legislation to nullify NDAA that we will very soon see more introduced to nullify the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 as well. As it stands hardly anyone has done anything but a few who know what is at stake here and willing to so something about it. We need much more! Much more!
You, we must be the change. Until we collectively decide that it’s not going to be business as usual we will watch what America stood for continue to vaporize before our eyes. Americans can no longer afford to sit by as our country slides into full on 21st century style fascism where corporate interests rule and the citizens of the U.S. are less than an after thought. Our government seems to consider us not only a nuisance when exercising our 1st Amendment rights but now obviously a danger. Who are these elected officials to just wipe out whole sections of the Constitution in the name of control but wrapped in the cloak of safety? It is time to do your duty as a citizen and contact your representatives on these issues of constitutional rights or we truly will have none. We’re almost there now.
After much political wrangling between the Virginia Senate and the House, a second Senate vote today acceded to the original version of H.B. 1160.
Excerpt from Delegate Bob Marshall’s website:
Senate Votes 37-1 – Marshall Hails Final Passage Of His Bill Against Illegal Detention
“After days of adverse legislative maneuvering triggered by unspecified reports that McDonnell “had concerns” about HB 1160, the Senate voted 37-1 to accept the bill as it was originally passed by the House on Feb. 14 by a 96-4 vote.
With today’s vote, the Senate turned away from its own version of the legislation, which contained a clarifying amendment accepted by Marshall and adopted Feb. 28 by a 38-1 vote. That amendment, however, marked the beginning of behind-the-scenes manipulation intended to the scuttle HB 1160.
Beyond doubt, the letters, telephone calls and e-mail messages in support of my bill are what carried the day,” Marshall said. “These good folks did not give up in the face of adversity, and they prevailed. Now I hope they will carry this fight further by entreating Gov. McDonnell to complete the process and sign the bill into law.””
The bill will now be presented to Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell to sign.