America Lurches Toward Full-Blown Tyranny - by Stephen Lendman
Post-9/11, America's moved steadily toward eroding democracy entirely. Justification given is war on terror hokum. Incrementally, international, constitutional and statute laws have been trashed.
Equity, justice and other democratic values long ago were abandoned to advance America's imperium. On May 26, the House voted to abolish freedom entirely - HR 1540, 322 - 96.
On December 1, the Senate did likewise - S. 1867, 93 to 7. Both versions assure no one anywhere is now safe, including law-abiding US citizens.
Senate no votes were cast by Thomas Harkin (D. IA), Rand Paul (R. KY), Thomas Coburn (R. OK), Jeff Merkley (D. OR), Ron Wyden (D. OR), Mike Lee (R. UT), and Bernie Sanders (I. VT).
Of the Senate's 51 Democrats, only one voted no.
At issue are Sections 1031 and 1032 of the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act - NDAA (S. 1867).
Section 1031 authorizes indefinitely detaining US citizens without charge or trial. It exceeds previous police state laws. The provision refers to US citizens or lawful resident aliens even though the Constitution protects them. No longer.
Enactment means anyone anywhere, including US citizens, may be indefinitely held without charge or trial, based solely on suspicions, baseless allegations or none at all.
No reasonable proof is required, just suspicions that those detained pose threats. Under subsection (b)(1), indefinite detentions can follow mere membership (past or present) or support for suspect organizations.
Presidents would have unchecked authority to arrest, interrogate and indefinitely detain law-abiding citizens if accused of potentially posing a threat.
Constitutional, statute and international laws won't apply. Martial law will replace them.
Like the companion House bill (HR 1540), detention would be authorized based on alleged prior associations with suspect groups.
US military personnel anywhere in the world would be authorized to seize US citizens and others.
Section 1032 requires suspects held in military custody, outside constitutionally mandated civil protections, including habeas rights, due process, and other judicial procedures.
Presidents could order anyone arrested and imprisoned for life without charge or trial.
Abuse of power would replace rule of law protections.
Even someone erroneously arrested and cleared of wrongdoing could be held indefinitely without charge, given non-civil trials, none at all, or sent abroad to torture prison hellholes.
On November 29, the Senate voted 60 - 38 against Mark Udall's (D. CO) amendment. If adopted, it would have prohibited the military from arresting and imprisoning anyone anywhere without charge or trial, including US citizens.
An orderly review of presidential and congressional detention power would have been authorized. Before adjourning, House and Senate conferees will resolve the issue one way or other. Removing harmful provisions is doubtful.
If not, Obama promised a veto. So far, he's broken EVERY major promise made. Given enough congressional votes to override him, it hardly matters what he does.
December 8 is the House's targeted adjournment date. The Senate date is yet to be announced. Key legislation must be completed before leaving, including resolving language in FY 2012 NDAA.
Obama must then sign or veto it. Congress returns on January 5. Will he keep his promise or sign the bill to assure defense funding continuity? Electoral politics suggests the latter.
Moreover, S. 1867 sponsor Carl Levin said Obama officials were involved in drafting the bill. Both sides apparently agreed on final language.
Some Post-9/11 Background
On September 18, 2001, a joint House-Senate Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) approved permanent war on humanity. Thereafter, America's lurched from one to another. Expect more ahead.
On November 13, 2001, George Bush issued Military Order Number 1. It was a watershed coup d'etat action.
It authorized presidents to capture, kidnap or otherwise arrest non-citizens (citizens were later included) anywhere in the world based on unproved allegations of involvement in international terrorism. Moreover, it approved holding them indefinitely without charge, evidence or due process rights.
It stipulated that trials, if held, will be in secret military commissions, not civil courts. Torture obtained evidence is allowed, and appeal rights are denied those convicted.
Capitalizing on a window of hysteria, numerous laws, Executive Orders, findings, memoranda, and memos, as well as National and Homeland Security Presidential Directives followed (NSPDs and HSPDs). Constitutional rights eroded. Unchecked police state powers hardened.
On October 26, 2001, 45 days post-9/11, Congress overwhelmingly passed the USA Patriot Act. Civil liberties were eroded, including Fifth and Fourteen Amendment due process rights by permitting indefinite detentions of undocumented immigrants that now apply to anyone anywhere.
First Amendment freedom of association was compromised. Now anyone may be prosecuted for their alleged association with "undesirable groups."
Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches and seizures are gone, including personal privacy rights.
Unchecked government surveillance powers were authorized to access personal records, monitor financial transactions, as well as student, medical and other records.
Secret evidence may be obtained lawlessly and withheld from defense lawyers.
For the first time, "domestic terrorism" was criminalized. It applies to US citizens and aliens. It states criminal law violations are considered domestic terrorist acts if they aim to "influence (government policy) by intimidation, coercion (or) intimidate or coerce a civilian population."
In other words, anti-war, global justice, environmental and animal rights activism, as well as Occupy Wall Street activism may be designated "domestic terrorism." So may civil disobedience and dissent of any kind to prevent it entirely.
On October 1, 2002, USNORTHCOM's establishment was step one to militarizing America.
The November 25, 2002 Homeland Security Act (HSA) centralized unprecedented executive branch military and law enforcement powers.
The October 17, 2006 Military Commissions Act scrapped habeas protections for domestic and foreign enemies alike, citizens and non-citizens, stating:
"Any person is punishable... who....aids, abets, counsels, commands, or procures" and in so doing helps a foreign enemy, provides "material support" to alleged terrorist groups, engages in spying, or commits other offenses previously handled in civil courts.
It also authorized torture and empowered presidents to convene military commissions to try anyone called "unlawful enemy combatants." They now designated "unprivileged enemy belligerents."
On the same date, little know FY 2007 NDAA provisions (Sections 1076 and 333) amended the Insurrection Act of 1807 and Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.
They prohibit using federal and National Guard troops for law enforcement domestically except as constitutionally allowed or expressly authorized by Congress in times of a national emergency like an insurrection.
Presidents may now claim public emergency powers, effectively declare martial law, suspend the Constitution for "national security" reasons, and deploy federal and National Guard troops on America's streets to suppress whatever he calls disorder.
The key April 4, 2007 NSPD-51/HSPD-20 combined directive established "Continuity of Government (COG)" procedures under Catastrophic Emergency conditions, defined as:
"any incident (such as a terrorist attack), regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the US population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."
COG is then defined as:
"a coordinated effort within the Federal Government's executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency."
The combined directive gave the president and DHS unprecedented police state powers to declare martial law without congressional approval, and be able to rule extrajudicially, free from constitutional constrains. It also let the vice-president assume dictatorial powers. Clever wording marginalized Bush, saying:
NSPD 51 "shall be implemented in a manner that is consistent with, and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 U.S.C. 19), with consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others involved."
"Heads of executive departments and agencies shall ensure that appropriate support is available to the Vice President and others involved as necessary to be prepared at all times to implement those provisions."
Civil liberties were further eroded by institutionalized spying, other forms of surveillance, waging war on Islam, criminalizing dissent, creating a culture of secrecy, militarizing police, punishing whistleblowers, using courts as persecution instruments, and governing extrajudicially overall.
If FY 2012 NDAA includes Sections 1031 and 1032, America more than ever will be repressive and unfit live in.
How can it be if constitutional, statute and international law protections no longer apply.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.