Happy Birthday, Bill [of Rights]: Obama Breaks Promise To Veto Bill Allowing Indefinite Detention of Americans

There was a brief moment when civil libertarians were stunned to see President Barack Obama actually take a stand in favor of civil liberties after years to rolling back on basic rights of citizens and moving beyond the Bush Administration in building up the security state. Obama said that he would veto the defense bill that contained a horrific provision for the indefinite detention of American citizens. While many predicted it, Obama has now again betrayed the civil liberties community and lifted the threat of the veto. Americans will now be subject to indefinite detention without trial in federal courts in a measure supported by both Democrats and Republicans. It is a curious way to celebrate the 220th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.

This leave Ron Paul as the only candidate in the presidential campaign fighting the bill and generally advocating civil liberties as a rallying point for his campaign. Paul offered another strong argument against the Patriot Act and other expansions of police powers in his last debate. He also noted that the Patriot Act provisions were long advocated before 9-11, which was used as an opportunity to expand police powers. As discussed in a prior column, Obama has destroyed the civil liberties movement in the United States and has convinced many liberals to fight for an Administration that blocked torture prosecutions, expanded warrantless surveillance, continued military tribunals, killed Americans on the sole authority of the President, and other core violations of civil liberties.

The White House is saying that changes to the law made it unnecessary to veto the legislation. That spin is facially ridiculous. The changes were the inclusion of some meaningless rhetoric after key amendments protecting citizens were defeated. The provision merely states that nothing in the provisions could be construed to alter Americans’ legal rights. Since the Senate clearly views citizens are not just subject to indefinite detention but even execution without a trial, the change offers nothing but rhetoric to hide the harsh reality. THe Administration and Democratic members are in full spin — using language designed to obscure the authority given to the military. The exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032) is the screening language for the next section, 1031, which offers no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial.

At least Senator Lindsey Graham was honest when he said on the Senate floor that “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

I am not sure which is worse: the loss of core civil liberties or the almost mocking post hoc rationalization for abandoning principle. The Congress and the President have now completed a law that would have horrified the Framers. Indefinite detention of citizens is something that the Framers were intimately familiar with and expressly sought to bar in the Bill of Rights. While the Framers would have likely expected citizens in the streets defending their freedoms, this measure was greeted with a shrug and a yawn by most citizens and reporters. Instead, we are captivated by whether a $10,000 bet by Romney was real or pretend in the last debate.

Even more distressing is the statement from sponsor Senator Levin, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee that “The language which precluded the application of Section 1031 to American citizens was in the bill that we originally approved … and the administration asked us to remove the language which says that U.S. citizens and lawful residents would not be subject to this section.”

Source: Guardian

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Section 1031:

Subtitle D–Detainee Matters
(a) In General- Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.
(b) Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
(c) Disposition Under Law of War- The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:
(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
(2) Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (title XVIII of Public Law 111-84)).
(3) Transfer for trial by an alternative court or competent tribunal having lawful jurisdiction.
(4) Transfer to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.
(d) Construction- Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
(e) Authorities- Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.
(f) Requirement for Briefings of Congress- The Secretary of Defense shall regularly brief Congress regarding the application of the authority described in this section, including the organizations, entities, and individuals considered to be ‘covered persons’ for purposes of subsection (b)(2).

330 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Bill [of Rights]: Obama Breaks Promise To Veto Bill Allowing Indefinite Detention of Americans”

  1. be prepared people.for the ndaa law will reach into web sites to find out who is against the united states gov.this is america to-day.bush started this after 9-11 when our own goverment attacked us and now obama just finisheds puting the last nail in the coffin of america.now do you think 9-11 is an inside job?

  2. lmao. They don’t care what is written on that old piece of paper. That paper can’t stop them. That paper has no authority. That paper is irrelevant. Government cannot be limited. Government is the legalization of crime. If an individual can’t tax, regulate, license, register, conscript, etc., then they can’t delegate such rights. Government is an unnecessary evil. Its a simple matter to just privatize everything. No more rulers. Equality under the law.

  3. We need a constitutional amendment to limit government and stop leaving it up to the fox, in this case, to build the chicken coop. We, as citizens, really need to get more involved in limiting government, setting term limits (STEP ONE) and seeing to it that media doesn’t make our decisions for us with a one minute sound bite that is meaningless. Having 24/7 news has allowed us to believe that everything we hear from news is meaningful. Some of it is merely filling air-time that they have to fill. What Congress is doing – that is meaningful and we usually don’t know about it until it is too late.

  4. It is the natural course of government. You cannot legalize crime and then expect the criminals to “limit themselves.” The concept of limited government is purely utopian.

  5. This is fucked up! What happened to america? This is worse than with the colonies!

    1. Actually it’s about the same in style but definitly worse in intensity.

      The People who pushed for the seperation from England in 1776 used propaganda and false reports of attrocities to convince the people to revolt in order to be able to control and feed their flourishing trade businesses (read that smuggling businesses) without interference or taxation.

      In the end; they were only able to convince about one third of the colonists to revolt. Fully two-thirds never desired to seperate and remained loyal to King George who had a reputation for being far beyond fair with his American Colonies taxing them at lower rates than any of his other colonies and alolowing them many freedoms.

      They and the 1% today are exactly the same kind of people. Only interested in money and power and a lust for war and the suffering of others.

      They will not rest untill they controll all. they will not rest untill all nations are a thing of the past and only theu determine the future of Mankind.

      The answer; no matter which angle you view it from is frightening. Politically; Religiously; when you strip away the trappings;the culprits look just alike. Act just alike. Talk just alike

  6. Kai, Truthfully, neither Bush nor Obama wrote either bill. Congress writes and passes legislation. If you really care about which party is responsible for writing what legislation go back to 2006 and find out who was on the committee and who voted for the legislation. Bush and Obama both signed the legislation that has been mentioned, however, the bill is different that Obama signed this year. There is no need for any of us to be ignorant and willfully partisan or to try to pretend the party in control now is for the rights of the common man. Find out what you need to know about who writes the bills, who votes for the bills and who signs them. Find out what was in the 2006 bill and what was in the bill this year. Just because we vote for someone or want to believe in someone, does not make that someone a good American fro either party. What they do is what is important. “The proof is in the pudding.”

    It is time for Americans to stop the partisan pandering and start acting like citizens who care about what happens to this country.

  7. Hey Jonathan, were you this outraged when Bush originally wrote to strip our liberties back in ’06 with the Military Commissions Act of 2006? Why did you leave that party out? Why did you also omit how the (evil) ACLU tried to sue the government for taking away our civil liberties and ran into a corrupt Dept of Justice? “9/11 .. 9/11 .. enemy combatants … 9/11.”


    The only thing Obama did was get the military, and courts, involved in a freedom stripping, flawed bill, by of course, George Bush!

  8. lol at putting the words obama and innocent in the same sentence. He is totally and utterly evil. He has signed away the bill of rights in their entirety. He should be impeached and tried for [mass] murder. He is a psychopathic criminal.

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