Senate Passes Bill Allowing for Indefinite Detention of U.S. Citizens Without Trial or Attorney
U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
- Benjamin Franklin
The Defense Authorization Act is the most Draconian, Orwellian, anti-Constitutional piece of legislation since the Patriot Act. Not only has this administration been the first in history to assassinate a U.S. citizen abroad without trial, but the Senate on Thursday passed the Defense Authorization Act that includes provisions to allow for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without a trial or access to an attorney. Any U.S. citizen suspected of being a ‘terrorist’ could be detained by the military forever.
Citizens would not even have to be tried or convicted of anything, just suspected. This is giving up one of the most important foundations of our legal system – due process. Before you write off these concerns and think it would only apply to “the bad guys”, consider that some of the things that might qualify you as a suspected terrorist include having more than 7 days of food in your house, having multiple guns, weatherproof ammunition or missing fingers on your hand. I’m sure they could come up with any other justification needed at their discretion and simply make you disappear if they don’t like you.
The problem with this bill (and almost all bills that mention the word “terror”, “terrorist”, “terrorism”, or “war on terror”, like the misnamed Patriot Act) is that terrorism is a tactic, not a person or group of people. By a strict definition of “terrorism”, some tactics employed by the US army could classify them as a “terrorist organization”, but that’s not the point. Since “Terrorism” is a tactic, in order to call someone a “terrorist”, you need to give that person a fair trial and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person in question did in fact use terrorist tactics. Bills like this give the US Government the ability to skip that step and classify someone as a “terrorist” arbitrarily without a fair trial, which is no different than giving the Executive branch the power to call someone a murderer and execute them on the spot. Once you start going down that path, the potential for abuse is catastrophic! Section 1031 needs to be removed. (from Opencongress.org)
The legislation passed by a wide 93 to 7 margin. It was opposed by Senators Tom Coburn (R-Ok.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Mike Lee (R-Ut.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
Fortunately, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), an opponent of the original language, amended the bill to clearly state that the intention of the bill was not to usurp existing U.S. law in regards to American citizens and legal aliens. It is not clear yet if this language will go far enough to protect U.S. citizens from this unconstitutional power grab.
Senator Feinstein likens the measure to former president Franklin Roosevelt’s ordering the incarceration of US citizens of Japanese descent during World War II.