On Thursday, December 15 – the 220th anniversary of the Bill of Rights – Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which can be used by the President to indefinitely detain Americans without charge or trial; an utter eradication of the Fifth Amendment, without apology. Our Congress decided the President needs more power at the expense of the people and the Constitution.
Is this what our veterans and our forefathers fought and gave their lives for? Is this what Americans want their Congress to do? Place power like this in the hands of one man – the President – to do as he wishes with American citizens?
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution recognizes your right to due process: “No person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The Fourth Amendment, for what it’s worth, also recognizes that your right to be secure in your person and in your house (among other things) cannot be infringed by sidestepping the legal process. The explicit recognition of these rights by our government is one of the things that has always made our country exceptional. But this new law is a misguided attack on our country’s 220-year recognition of these inherent rights.
Let us look at the final text of the bill. In “Subtitle D–Detainee Matters”, Sec. 1031, “Congress affirms that the authority of the President…includes the authority…to detain…any person…who was a part of or substantially supported…enemy forces.” The keyword here is “substantially supported.” This designation is extrajudicial – that is, at the President’s discretion. Sec. 1032 says, “The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.” The keyword here is “requirement.” In other words, the President has the authority to indefinitely detain any person who “substantially supported” the enemy, and is in fact required to do so – unless it is a U.S. citizen, in which case it is at the President’s discretion.
What if opposition to certain government policies – the Patriot Act, or the TSA, or certain military actions, for example – is deemed “substantially supportive” of the enemy? What if a President’s discretion, in lieu of a Constitutionally-guaranteed jury trial, is faulty and harms innocents? Obama himself, and those who succeed him, will now decide whether to send government agents to your living room to apprehend and detain you, without charges, for whatever duration they wish (or for as long as there is a War on Terror), under a Congressionally-condoned false pretense and color of law. Did we not learn from Russia, China, and Germany in the past century?
The so-called “conservatives” in Washington who are, at least in public, constantly at odds with the Obama agenda are the majority of whom voted for this bill. How dare they give this (or any) administration even more broad unilateral power to unequivocally control the very lives and liberty of We the People?
Couple that with the fact that Predator drones are now being used inside the United States as police tools, and we are looking at an outrageous reality. We must be honest with ourselves: America is becoming a police state. It cannot be overstated how serious of an offense this is. All those in Congress who supported this legislation must be voted out of office for violation of their oath to uphold the Constitution. That is the least that should happen in response to such an egregious assault on our liberties.
We cannot allow the slow death of our Republic.
Over the past decade, our rights have slowly been dissolved. Some say, “It couldn’t happen here. This is America!”
Wake up. Congress just made it happen.
This has got to stop.
Calen Fretts is a Candidate for U.S. Congress in the First District of Florida