COMMENTARY | December 31, 2011, was a day when most Americans were preparing to ring in the New Year. Our President, Barack Obama, was preparing to ring something else – the death toll for the United States Constitution. He did so by signing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law from his vacation rental in Kailua, Hawaii, according to ABC.
The NDAA contains a provision, section 1021, that has drawn fire from civil rights watchdogs. The ACLU calls it “unconstitutional and illegal.” It gives the government the power to detain anyone, even American citizens, in military custody forever without trial or recourse of any kind.
The text of section 1021 can be read on page 265 of this PDF at the US GPO web site. It’s amazing the public knew anything about it before the vote since it’s buried midway in a 565-page bill.
Obama signed the bill into law despite having “serious reservations with certain provisions” in the NDAA, according to CBS. By this he meant section 1021. He followed with this comment:
“I want to clarify that my administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.”
There are two problems with that. First, his statement doesn’t bind future administrations in any way – even if he keeps to that promise about his own administration. Second, it doesn’t just break “traditions and values.” It appears to violate Amendments 5, 6 and 8 of the U.S. Constitution.
This law, which provides the government with a way to circumvent the protections guaranteed every citizen in the Constitution, is an open doorway to tyranny. It’s like the terrors of the Nazi Gestapo or the Soviet KGB have come to America, where jack-booted thugs stand ready to drag citizens away to gulags in the dead of night. When the government can declare citizens “terrorists” without evidence or cause, crash down their doors in the dark and take them away, the nation’s liberty has been lost.
There’s only a short window of opportunity before another administration may come to power – one that has not pledged to steer clear of using this law against American citizens. This law must be overturned immediately or the chance to do so will be lost forever.