When Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess on Monday, the Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield – even people in the United States itself.
As currently written, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (S. 1867) gives this president – and every future president – the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.
The White House, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General have all said that the indefinite detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act are harmful and counterproductive. The White House has even threatened a veto. But Senate politics has propelled this bad legislation to the Senate floor.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) explained that the bill will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial “American citizen or not.”
Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) is offering the Udall Amendment that will delete the harmful provisions and replace them with a requirement for an orderly Congressional review of detention power. The Udall Amendment deletes the provisions and sets up an orderly review of detention power.
If enacted, sections 1031 and 1032 of the NDAA would:
- Explicitly authorize the federal government to indefinitely imprison without charge or trial American citizens and others picked up inside and outside the United States;
- Mandate military detention of some civilians who would otherwise be outside of military control, including civilians picked up within the United States itself; and
- Transfer to the Department of Defense core prosecutorial, investigative, law enforcement, penal, and custodial authority and responsibility now held by the Department of Justice.
The United States is rapidly heading down the road to fascism. It’s bad enough that corporations have almost complete control of our political system. Now those same interests want to deputize the military against our citizens!
I don’t care which political party has control over the American military; this proposal is disgustingly out of line with who we are and who we have been since our inception. Our criminal justice system has served us reasonably well over the 222 years of our existence. It can and will continue to do so. There is no moral, legal or security justification for turning our military on our own citizenry.
Contact your senators and urge them to vote in support of the Udall Amendment. And if the amendment should fail, urge them to vote against the entire National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (S. 1867). The Senate needs to clearly understand that the American public also can and will “draw a line in the sand.”