Is This How Liberty Dies?

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

What I’m All About

I am Calen Fretts. People tell me I must be mad to run for Congress in the First District as a Libertarian. They say the Republican Party armor is far too thick to make a dent.

I don’t like attitudes like that. They make people who deserve better settle for less.

You see, I’m a blessed man. I have a home, a business, a wonderful fiancée, and I live in the greatest country in the world – a country that flourished by protecting individual rights, free markets, and limited government. I want my neighbors and future family to prosper. I can’t stay silent when I see the best parts of America withering away.

It is withering. A lot of that comes from Congress doing things it shouldn’t.

Take the debt ceiling, for example. Just this past August it was raised again by $2 trillion. Numbers have gotten so big, it’s tough to completely understand them, but $2 trillion means about $7000 in new debt, forced by the government, at interest, forever, on every man, woman and child in the country . Mind you, the federal government has spent $15 trillion already, and is set to spend a lot more.

Another example is Congresspersons giving up their powers to a “Supercommittee” so that they don’t have to make tough decisions. It is dead wrong for a member of Congress to give up his power to such a group. He may as well not be in Congress at all.

There is more. Most of my neighbors detest the thought that government is everyone’s nanny. The resistance to Obamacare, with its obvious costs and personal restrictions, instantly comes to mind. But the Republican Party doesn’t want to repeal Obamacare, they want to “repeal and replace” it with their own version that will also have costs and personal restrictions.

Add the Patriot Act to the list. Enacted without time to be read, it was sold to a frightened public as the way to keep us safe. It led to secret lists, government permission to travel, abusive searches on airlines, warrantless searches of Americans, zero financial privacy, and soon will lead to checkpoints in train stations, bus stations, and even open roads. This is America, the land of the free? What good is it for a country to gain the whole world, yet forfeit its own soul?

Even the rule of law is now in question. Congress has actually exempted itself from insider trading laws, meaning acts that we lowly citizens would go to jail for make them rich. The government uses fake accounting methods. Large financial companies, supposedly regulated by the government, repeatedly violate the law (some even get bailouts), and no one goes to jail.

Don’t take my word for it. Read the news yourself. These things are already happening, and happening by the hand of those in Congress.

In a land founded on individual rights, our government- at all levels- taxes us, limits us, regulates us, commands us, and threatens our way of life, more than ever. These assaults on liberty are branded as keeping us safe, or investing in the future, or the lesser of two evils, or being fair, or even compassion for our fellow citizens. No one can feel secure in their property, papers, or personal effects anymore. The abuses are everywhere, and are being enabled by Republicans and Democrats alike.

I may be young, but I know when I am being taken advantage of, and I don’t like it.

Congress is the key. I am about standing firm on no new debt. I am about political competition. I am about fighting the nanny state and all its ills. I am about maintaining our liberty instead of trading it for the illusion of security. I am for free, not managed, markets. Most of all, I am for the rule of law. We are not a country of truth and justice for some.

The proper role of government is to defend the country, impose justice on those who use force or fraud on others, and act within the limits of our Constitution. It is not to own businesses, or grant favors.

It won’t be fixed by hiring the same leaders again either.

This is what I am about.

Hope on the War Front

The people of the panhandle should be justly proud of their important role in defending our nation. All five of our armed services have missions in this area, and serving in the military is an esteemed part of thousands of local family histories.

I am not a soldier, but I can understand such pride. From my brother, who currently serves in the Army, to my grandfathers who served in the last century, I am honored to come from a long line of servicemen to the country; in fact, going all the way back to the Revolution. I deeply respect the sense of duty and commitment to the principles of our Constitution that are found in our military.

But things in the military are not as they used to be in our great Republic.

In 1776, our forefathers were fighting an imperial British occupation force in their own back yards. In 2011, our friends and loved ones are asked to fight a faceless enemy as an occupation force in foreign lands.

Why is that? America was attacked by terrorists on 9/11. The military mission was to bring to justice those who perpetrated this crime.

Osama bin Laden and his cronies are now dead. Enemy organizations have been shattered. Yet our military remains abroad, now engaged for over a decade.

The United States military now accounts for almost half of total world military spending, and is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world. During many missions, the U.S. cedes its military sovereignty to international organizations such as the UN and NATO, putting its troops under foreign commanders and foreign flags.

In an example of collateral damage, the war on terror became a pretext to expand government control, violate individual rights, and erode the Constitution at home. Since 2002 there are precedents for the assassination of U.S. citizens abroad without trial, a blatant violation of the Fifth Amendment. There are plans for virtually all travelers in our country to be routinely searched. The rule of law continues to be battered by a President who neither sought the Constitutionally-mandated approval of Congress to engage in war on Libya, nor complied with the War Powers Act passed by Congress. To cap it off, this week, the Senate is debating the National Defense Authorization Act (S.1867/H.1540) – a bill that will let the government use the military, as Congressman Justin Amash stated, to “indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil, without charge or trial, at the discretion of the President.” The House has already passed this bill.

Broad powers might not seem so bad when the custodian is someone you trust, and in the name of safety, but what happens if and when someone unchecked by conscience, the rule of law, and the Constitution takes office?

But take heart, because we are not there yet. We can still bring the troops home to reunite with their spouses, children, and families, by forcing Congress to uphold its Constitutional accountability for the wars. Our troops can rest and recuperate, in case the U.S. faced a legitimate threat, while spending their money here at home and spurring the domestic economy. We can cut the spending overseas and foreign aid by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. We can defend our own borders from illegal immigrants and Mexican drug cartel terrorists. All it takes is your voice.

America’s Founding Fathers envisioned a revolutionary ideology for the New World; one where the nation would refrain from offensive and interventionist wars, one where force would only be justified in defense against imminent attacks. Sadly, the U.S. today could not be further to the opposite side of the spectrum. Now fighting multiple wars in the Middle East with no real end in sight, the cost of incessant war is being unnecessarily paid every day with American lives and American dollars – blood and treasure.

How many veterans fought for more debt, less freedoms, and endless war?

This is not the nation America’s Founding Fathers envisioned. It is time to restore the U.S. military to its rightful place as the defender of sovereignty and beacon of liberty worldwide.

Calen Fretts is a candidate for Congress in the First District of Florida