Bill of Rights RIP - 1791 - 2011?? - Act Now
* Bill of Rights RIP - 1791 - 2011? (Roots Action, Dec. 14)
* Indefinite Military Detention Measure Passes On Bill Of
Rights Day (Huffington Post, Dec. 15)
Bill of Rights RIP - 1791 - 2011??
December 14, 2011
Just in time for Bill of Rights Day, Congress has included
in a massive war and weapons funding bill an authorization
of presidents and the military to imprison you or anyone
else without a trial or charge. . . forever.
Tell President Obama to veto the bill as soon as it reaches
The conference committee made changes to the bill to answer
President Obama's concerns, not ours. The bill now leaves
the president free to imprison or kill individuals without
handing them over even to a military tribunal.
The White House calls this "flexibility." The authors of the
Bill of Rights called it tyranny.
Demand that the President veto this outrageous bill, even
though Congress made it even worse in an attempt to appease
the White House.
If you know people who oppose trial-free permanent
imprisonment, please forward this to them...to add to the
24,000 names on our petition.
If you know people who support trial-free permanent
imprisonment, you've been spending too much time inside
Aimee, David, Sarah
and the RootsAction team
Huffington Post: "House And Senate Negotiators Agree On Bill
Hoping To Avoid Obama Veto"
Daily Show: "Arrested Development"
Events on Bill of Rights Day
Indefinite Military Detention Measure Passes On Bill Of Rights Day
by Michael McAuliff,
Huffington Post reporter
December 15, 2011
WASHINGTON -- The Senate passed a defense bill Thursday that
authorizes indefinite detentions of American terrorism
suspects, coincidentally acting on the controversial measure
on the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of
The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, passed 86
to 13 and is expected to be signed quickly by President
Obama, who withdrew a veto threat against the bill
Wednesday. Six Democrats, six Republicans and one
independent opposed the bill.
Though the legislation passed overwhelmingly, several
senators argued that it was threatening fundamental
provisions of the Bill of Rights, which is celebrated every
"We as Americans have a right to a speedy trial, not
indefinite detention," said Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). "We as
Americans have a right to a jury of our peers, which I would
argue is ... not enlisted or military personnel sitting in a
jury. You cannot search our businesses or place of business
or our homes without probable cause under the Bill of
"You cannot be deprived of your freedom or your property
without due process of law, and that, I would say, is not
indefinite detention," added Kirk, who voted for the bill.
"I would actually argue that no statute and no Senate and no
House can take these rights away from you."
The 13 senators who voted against the bill were Dick Durbin
(D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tom
Harkin (D-Iowa), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.),
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Rand Paul (R-
Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Mike Crapo (R-
Idaho) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
Supporters of the bill argued that current U.S. law is a
combination of rulings and precedents that already allow
indefinite detention of Americans. But they say that
granting the military explicit authority to investigate and
detain terrorism suspects -- including Americans -- is vital
to ensuring the nation can keep up with an adaptable and
changing enemy threat.
They point to court rulings that have found detentions of
citizens to be proper. But opponents say the issue of
grabbing up Americans on U.S. soil and putting them in
military detention without trial has never actually been
tested by the Supreme Court.
"This provision would for the first time in American history
require our military to take custody of certain terrorism
suspects in the United States," said Durbin, who was
especially concerned with two sections of the bill -- 1021
and 1022 -- and voted "no."
He argued -- citing FBI Director Robert Mueller's opposition
to the provisions -- that there was no reason to mess with a
system that has worked well since Sept. 11, 2001.
"Since 9/11 our counterterrorism professionals have
prevented another attack on the United States, and more than
400 terrorists have successfully been prosecuted and
convicted -- prosecuted and convicted -- in federal court,"
Durbin said. "Why do we want to change this system when it's
working so well to keep America safe? The fact that these
detainee provisions have caused so many disagreements and
such heated debate demonstrates the danger of enacting them
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who added an amendment to
the bill that specifies the resulting measure would not
affect current law regarding citizens, argued that her
provision provides protection for Americans.
Nevertheless, in voting for the bill, she also proposed a
new bill that she, Durbin, Kirk and others intend to pursue
later in hopes of making her interpretation the law.
"I strongly believe that constitutional due process requires
that United States citizens apprehended in the United States
should never be held in indefinite detention," Feinstein
said. "That is what this legislation would accomplish."
Feinstein offered a similar amendment during earlier debate
over the $662 billion defense bill, and it failed. It was
not clear that this measure would do any better, although
she noted that it built on a law signed in 1971 by President
Nixon meant to curb abuses such as the internment of
Japanese Americans in World War II.
The bill requires military treatment for foreign terrorism
suspects. Defenders of the bill have pointed to one part of
the provisions that say U.S. citizens are "exempted" from
the requirement to be detained by the military, but legal
scholars note that even though that detention is not
required, it is allowed.
President Obama had threatened to veto the measure. But
after provisions were added that gave him the final say over
which suspects stay in military custody, he relented. Those
provisions also ensured that the FBI and other law
enforcement agencies would still be permitted to investigate
and interrogate terrorist suspects. Mueller has called the
provisions insufficient, warning that they will create
bureaucratic roadblocks in the midst of vital
Obama could sign the bill as soon as Friday.
Civil liberties groups were infuriated that Obama retreated
from the veto threat, and called on him to reconsider.
"The NDAA enshrines the war paradigm that has eroded the
United States' human rights record and served it so poorly
over the past decade as the country's primary
counterterrorism tool," said Tom Parker, policy director of
Amnesty International USA. "In doing so, the NDAA provides a
framework for 'normalizing' indefinite detention and making
Guantanamo a permanent feature of American life," he said,
referring to a restriction in the measure on closing the
Cuba prison for terror suspects.
"By withdrawing his threat to veto the NDAA, President Obama
has abandoned yet another principled position with little or
nothing to show for it," Parker said. "Amnesty International
is appalled -- but regrettably not surprised."
[Michael McAuliff covers politics and Congress for the
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