Archive for the ‘American citizens’ tag
Next Up: Enemy Expatriation Act – Would Strip Americans of Citizenship For Hostilities Against the United States
Congress is awfully busy these days and in a big hurry too.
For months leading up to the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) opponents of the legislation vehemently argued that it usurped, among other fundamental laws of the land, 5th Amendment provisions of due process of law, essentially allowing for the detainment of American citizens without charge or public trial. To remedy the political fallout, President Obama included a signing statement when he approved the bill over the New Year’s weekend to the effect that he would only use his newly appointed powers to detain foreign nationals – not Americans.
As the controversy played out, however, unbeknownst to most of us, legislation that would completely bypass that signing statement was already in the works. In October of last year Representative Charles Dent (R-PA), Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and faux-Tea Party darling Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) conspired to introduce a scant but very powerful amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act that outlines a “list of acts for which U.S. nationals would lose their nationality.”
Dubbed the Enemy Expatriation Act (HR 3166), the amendment would essentially grant the United States government, perhaps through anonymous military tribunal or by secretive Congressional super panel, the power to brand Americans as hostiles for “engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States,” where “the term ‘hostilities’ means any conflict subject to the laws of war.”
As is typically the case, the language is vague and allows for broad interpretation of what is or is not considered a “hostile” act.
Merkozy reunites and turns up the heat on Greece to reform and cut the national debt, as markets fear the Greek bailout is unraveling. And signs of paranormal activity continue as investors pay Germany to lend the government money. The interest on 6-month German Bills — close to 5 billion dollars worth — were auctioned at a negative yield. We’ll talk about why. And the chairman of the Swiss National Bank has resigned after allegations his wife cashed in on the central bank’s policy to weaken the Swiss Franc. But as bad as this currency transaction scandal is — is it worse than the zero interest rate policy that the US Federal Reserve is engaged in, skimming off the top of everyone’s bank accounts? And should other central bankers follow suit and resign themselves?
Hell, forget about waiting for the bankers to resign, and freedom to return to America. Should people who are worried about totalitarianism and financial repression in the US just pack their bags and get the hell out of Dodge? That’s what Gonzalo Lira, founder of Strategic Planning Group, a company that helps protect its clients from events…well, like the kind we are describing…seemingly fat tail events that keep on getting fatter. Black Swans that keep on getting blacker. The paranormal that seems all too normal these days. We ask, should people just start planning their escape from the USA, and if so, where do they go? Again, Gonzalo Lira is here to explain this to us, and to give us his take on where Americans are fleeing during a deleveraging that is taking not just capital, but people with it.
“He will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law.”
These harsh words come courtesy of the executive director of the ACLU, formerly a supporter of the president but also just one of the many dissenters who have since have grown disillusioned with an administration tarnished by unfulfilled campaign promises and continuous constitutional violations . . .
When he signed the National Defense Authorization Act on New Year’s Eve, President Barack Obama said that he had his reservations over the controversial legislation that will allow for the indefinite detention of Americans. Now some of the president’s pals are expressing their agreement with Obama’s own hesitation, but say that the commander-in-chief should have thought harder before signing away the civil liberties of Americans.
Under the bill, which approves all defense spending for the 2012 fiscal year, certain provisions allow for the military detainment and torture of US citizens, indefinitely, essentially allowing for Guantanamo Bay-style prisons to be a real possibility for every American. As the act floated around Congress, an underground outrage erupted and activists attempted to keep the bill from leaving the House and the Senate, although a lack of media coverage largely left the matter hidden to the public. Despite this campaign, the legislation made it out of the Capitol Building and into the Oval Office last month, prompting advocates against the act to petition for the president to veto it.
Initially the Obama administration said the president’s advisers would recommend a veto, but later rescinded the threat. Senator Carl Levin eventually revealed that President Obama had insisted on adding the wording that has made NDAA such a target among activists who are frightened of the civil liberty-stripping capabilities . . .
One week after the president did ink the legislation, some of Obama’s old pals are saying they are in disbelief over how a former constitutional law professor could agree to such provisions that crush the law of the land.
President Obama’s action . . . is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero says in a statement. Such a charge not only carries much clout because it comes courtesy of the head of such an integral and reputable advocacy group, but Romero himself was praising the president three years earlier after he won the 2008 election. Now that same administration is doing everything Romero thought it wouldn’t.
“I believe he knows what he needs to do to restore the America we believe in, to get us on back on track, to give us back our America, an America we never stopped believing in but have sorely missed for the past eight years,” Romero wrote in 2008 in an op-ed that encouraged the president to follow through on his campaign promise of closing Guantanamo Bay. “Call me naive, but I honestly believe he wants to do it. He promised us that on the campaign trail, and I believe it was more than an empty promise,” wrote Romero.
Three-quarters of the way through his presidency, Obama has now only left Gitmo remain open, but is going to be able to send his own citizens to its torture cells . . .
“We are incredibly disappointed that President Obama signed this new law even though his administration had already claimed overly broad detention authority in court,” adds Romero. “Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back the constitutional excesses of George Bush in the war on terror was extinguished today.”
Other groups who had previously offered their endorsement to the president are saying they are upset as well.
It is deeply troubling that the NDAA became law with the detention provisions intact,” reads a statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR. “We believe it is unconstitutional for our military to become a police force that would hold American citizens indefinitely without the right to trial or even to hear the charges brought against them.
CAIR had long supported Obama for his protection of Muslim-American rights. Nearly one year ago Executive Director Nihad Awad told the media that the group welcomes Obama for his “decision to emphasize the fact that Muslims are contributing members of our society.” Only 12 months later, the group says they are now skeptical over how the president can now use his power to strip the rights of anyone.
This ill-conceived and un-American legislation will forever be seen as a stain on our nation’s history – one that will ultimately be viewed with embarrassment and shame,” adds the advocacy group.
Although the powers of the act indeed offer the president the ability to indefinitely detain people, citizens or non, Obama said during signing that he would not interpret the legislation to mean as such . . .
“I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens,” added the president in a statement that accompanied the signing of NDAA. “My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.”
That memo does not, however, mean future heads of state will necessarily be excluded from following the orders authorized by Congress. In fact, the ACLU’s Romero tells The Atlantic, The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.”
“President Obama did pledge in a signing statement not to use this law to detain American citizens but this provides little comfort, as signing statements have no legal force and he has repeatedly failed to uphold similar promises in the face of political pressure — including his pledge to close Guantánamo within his first year in office,” adds the Center for Constitutional Rights in their own statement this week. “The law authorizes a future president, such as a President Romney, President Bachmann or President Perry, to use this authorization in the most aggressive manner available.
When he offered his John Hancock come signing time, the president acknowledged suspicious but went ahead with it anyway, noting, “The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”
“I guess promising that Americans wouldn’t be indefinitely detained, period, was too much of a stretch,” blogger Mary Wheeler adds.
Those very suspicions that Obama wrote of did not stop the president from following the plea of Congress though, less than a year until November elections make or break the legacy of the president.
If you ask many, though, that legacy has been tarnished by the NDAA.
“Our Founders were fearful of the military — and they purposely created a system of checks and balances to ensure we did not become a country under military rule,” Minnesota Senator Al Franken wrote of the bill on Huffington Post. Franken, a Democrat along with Obama, said he had agreed with parts of the bill but the controversial provisions alone were reason for him not to sign it.
“This bill undermines that core principle, which is why I could not support it.”
For Obama, that didn’t quite seem to matter as much.
Ron Paul Interview
Even at this 11th hour – when all of our liberties and freedom are about to go down the drain – many people still don’t understand that the indefinite detention bill passed by Congress allows indefinite detention of Americans on American soil.
The bill is confusing. As Wired noted on December 1st:
It’s confusing, because two different sections of the bill seem to contradict each other, but in the judgment of the University of Texas’ Robert Chesney — a nonpartisan authority on military detention — “U.S. citizens are included in the grant of detention authority.”
A retired admiral, Judge Advocate General and Dean Emeritus of the University of New Hampshire School of Law also says that it applies to American citizens on American soil.
The ACLU notes:
Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1031 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.
But you don’t have to believe us. Instead, read what one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham said about it on the Senate floor: “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”
Another sponsor of the bill – Senator Levin – has also repeatedly said that the bill applies to American citizens on American soil, citing the Supreme Court case of Hamdi which ruled that American citizens can be treated as enemy combatants:
“The Supreme Court has recently ruled there is no bar to the United States holding one of its own citizens as an enemy combatant,” said Levin. “This is the Supreme Court speaking.“
Levin again stressed recently that the bill applies to American citizens, and said that it was president Obama who requested that it do so:
Under questioning from Rand Paul, another co-sponsor – John McCain – said that Americans suspected of terrorism could not only be indefinitely detained, but could be sent to Guantanamo:
U.S. Congressman Justin Amash states in a letter to Congress:
The Senate’s [bill] does not even distinguish between American citizens and non-citizens, or between persons caught domestically and abroad. The President’s power, in his discretion, to detain persons he determines have supported associated forces applies just as strongly to Americans seized on U.S. soil as it does to foreigners captured on a far away battlefield.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson – General Colin Powell’s chief of staff – says that the bill is a big step towards tyranny at home. Congressman Ron Paul says that it will establish martial law in America.
Indeed, Amash accuses lawmakers of attempting to intentionally mislead the American people by writing a bill which appears at first glance to exclude U.S. citizens, when it actually includes us:
Pres. Obama and many Members of Congress believe the President ALREADY has the authority the bill grants him. Legally, of course, he does not. This language was inserted to keep proponents and opponents of the bill appeased, while permitting the President to assert that the improper power he has claimed all along is now in statute.
They will say that American citizens are specifically exempted under the following language in Sec. 1032: “The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.” Don’t be fooled. All this says is that the President is not REQUIRED to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or trial. It still PERMITS him to do so