Endless war on liberty,
Bland Blather reporting
The end of the Iraq war has been informally declared, though Sen. Rand Paul's measure to formally declare it over was defeated. This is WLN News, Bland Blather reporting. I have here a script that was prepared for me but I've decided to depart from it.
[Gasps in background of set of Whole Lotta Nothing News]
I was wondering what Americans think about the fact that so many of their fellow Americans and fellow human beings in Iraq died after it was exposed that the reason for the war was bogus: not only were there no weapons of mass destruction but it was definitively demonstrated that the case for WMDs was hyped up -- or, as they say in Britain, sexed up -- by both American and British authorities cherry-picking so-called facts to create a desired impression.
[Hey!!! Shut him off!!!]
Why was it necessary to continue the war so long once it was determined that there was no WMD threat? Unless, of course, the WMD threat was simply a means to justify a war that Americans had initially been highly skeptical of.
It's now a decade since the attacks of 9/11, and America is suddenly on the brink of a draconian detention law that could easily be abused for political reasons. In fact, the introduction of such a law 10 years after the fact is grounds for suspicion. I and my colleagues in television media have been muzzled on this subject, though we all recognize what a danger it is.
[We're trying to shut it off!!! There's some kind of override!!!]
There are various theories about why such a conspiracy is occurring among mainstream media and the powers that be to throttle public discussion and general awareness of such an important matter. Some observers have noted that the detention measure -- in which the military could pick up Americans in America and detain them indefinitely without trial or disclosure of evidence -- comes just as the Iraq war is ending and Pentagon funding prospects are in decline.
There is considerable confusion about whether President Obama is for or against this measure, with reports that he had threatened veto. On the other hand, the bill's co-sponsor, Sen. Carl Levin, claimed that Obama had actually asked for such powers. However, with the press prevented from covering this matter as a running story, professional reporters aren't doing any digging, it seems.
The Iraq war is over but the endless war with al Qaeda -- or anyone who can make bombs -- means that our basic American liberties need never be fully restored, as Sen. Paul has noted.
[You're going to have to go on the set and physically remove him!!!]
Have to go now.
[Burly men pull Blather off the set.]
[Kill that story Blather was doing on Ron and Rand Paul!!!]
[What happened to him? Did he go off his meds?]
What's wrong with detention measure, by Rand Paul
James Madison, father of the Constitution, warned, “The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become instruments of tyranny at home.”
Abraham Lincoln had similar thoughts, saying “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
During war there has always been a struggle to preserve Constitutional liberties. During the Civil War the right of habeas corpus was suspended. Newspapers were closed down. Fortunately, these rights were restored after the war.
The discussion now to suspend certain rights to due process is especially worrisome given that we are engaged in a war that appears to have no end. Rights given up now cannot be expected to be returned. So, we do well to contemplate the diminishment of due process, knowing that the rights we lose now may never be restored.
My well-intentioned colleagues ignore these admonitions in defending provisions of the Defense bill pertaining to detaining suspected terrorists.
Their legislation would arm the military with the authority to detain indefinitely – without due process or trial – SUSPECTED al-Qaida sympathizers, including American citizens apprehended on American soil.
I want to repeat that. We are talking about people who are merely SUSPECTED of a crime. And we are talking about American citizens.
If these provisions pass, we could see American citizens being sent to Guantanamo Bay.
This should be alarming to everyone watching this proceeding today. Because it puts every single American citizen at risk.
There is one thing and one thing only protecting innocent Americans from being detained at will at the hands of a too-powerful state – our constitution, and the checks we put on government power. Should we err today and remove some of the most important checks on state power in the name of fighting terrorism, well, then the terrorists have won.
Detaining citizens without a court trial is not American. In fact, this alarming arbitrary power is reminiscent of Egypt’s “permanent” Emergency Law authorizing preventive indefinite detention, a law that provoked ordinary Egyptians to tear their country apart last spring and risk their lives to fight.
Recently, Justice Scalia affirmed this idea in his dissent in the Hamdi case, saying:
“Where the Government accuses a citizen of waging war against it, our constitutional tradition has been to prosecute him in federal court for treason or some other crime.”
He concluded: “The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive
Justice Scalia was, as he often does, following the wisdom of our founding fathers.
As Franklin wisely warned against, we should not attempt to trade liberty for security, if we do we may end up with neither. And really, what security does this indefinite detention of Americans give us?
The first and flawed premise, both here and in the badly misname patriot act, is that our pre-911 police powers were insufficient to combat international terrorism.
This is simply not borne out by the facts.
Congress long ago made it a crime to provide, or to conspire to provide, material assistance to al-Qaida or other listed foreign terrorist organizations. Material assistance includes virtually anything of value – including legal or political advice, education, books, newspapers, lodging or otherwise. The Supreme Court sustained the constitutionality of the sweeping prohibition.
And this is not simply about catching terrorists after the fact, as others may insinuate. The material assistance law is in fact forward-looking and preventive, not backward-looking and reactive.
Al-Qaida adherents may be detained, prosecuted and convicted for conspiring to violate the material assistance prohibition before any injury to an American. Jose Padilla, for instance, was convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison for conspiring to provide material assistance to al-Qaida. The criminal law does not require dead bodies on the sidewalk before it strikes at international terrorism.
Indeed, conspiracy law and prosecutions in civilian courts have been routinely invoked after 9/11, to thwart embryonic international terrorism.
Michael Chertoff, then head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and later Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, testified shortly after 9/11 to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He underscored that, “the history of this government in prosecuting terrorists in domestic courts has been one of unmitigated success and one in which the judges have done a superb job of managing the courtroom and not compromising our concerns about security and our concerns about classified information.”
Moreover, there is no evidence that criminal justice procedures have frustrated intelligence collection about international terrorism. Suspected terrorists have repeatedly waived both the right to an attorney and the right to silence. Additionally, Miranda warnings are not required at all when the purpose of interrogation is public safety.
The authors of this bill errantly maintain that the bill would not enlarge the universe of detainees eligible for indefinite detention in military custody. This is simply not the case.
The current Authorization for Use of Military Force confines the universe to persons implicated in the 9/11 attacks or who harbored those who were.
The detainee provision would expand the universe to include any person said to be “part of” or “substantially” supportive of al-Qaida or Taliban.
These terms are dangerously vague. More than a decade after 9/11, the military has been unable to define the earmarks of membership in or affiliation to either organization.
Some say that to prevent another 9/11 attack we must fight terrorism with a war mentality and not treat potential attackers as criminals. For combatants captured on the battlefield, I tend to agree.
But 9/11 didn’t succeed because we granted the terrorists due process. 9/11 attacks did not succeed because al-Qaida was so formidable, but because of human error. The Defense Department withheld intelligence from the FBI. No warrants were denied. The warrants weren’t requested. The FBI failed to act on repeated pleas from its field agents, agents who were in possession of laptop with information that might have prevented 9/11.
These are not failures of laws. They are not failures of procedures. They are failures of imperfect men and women in bloated bureaucracies. No amount of liberty sacrificed on the altar of the state will ever change that.
A full accounting of our human failures by 9/11 Commission would have proven that enhanced cooperation between law enforcement and the intelligence community, not military action or vandalizing liberty at home, is the key to thwarting international terrorism.
We should not have to sacrifice our Liberty to be safe. We cannot allow the rules to change to fit the whims of those in power. The rules, the binding chains of our constitution were written so that it didn’t MATTER who was in power. In fact, they were written to protect us and our rights, from those who hold power without good intentions. We are not governed by saints or angels. Our constitution allows for that. This bill does not.
Finally, the detainee provisions of the defense authorization bill do another grave harm to freedom: they imply perpetual war for the first time in the history of the United States.
No benchmarks are established that would ever terminate the conflict with al-Qaida, Taliban, or other foreign terrorist organizations. In fact, this bill explicitly states that no part of this bill is to imply any restriction on the authorization to use force. No congressional review is allowed or imagined. No victory is defined. No peace is possible if victory is made impossible by definition.
To disavow the idea that the exclusive congressional power to declare war somehow allows the President to continue war forever at whim, I will also be offering an amendment this week to de-authorize the Iraq War.
Use of military force must begin in congress with its authorization. And it should end in congress with its termination. Congress should not be ignored or an afterthought in these matters, and must reclaim its constitutional duties.
The detainee provisions ask us to give up consist rights as an emergency or exigency but make no room for expiration. Perhaps the Emergency Law in Egypt began with good intentions in 1958 but somehow it came to be hated, to be despised with such vigor that protesters chose to burn themselves alive rather allow continuation of indefinite detention.
Today, someone must stand up for the rights of the American people to be free. We must stand up to tyranny disguised as security. I urge my colleagues to reject the language on detainees in this bill, and to support amendments to strip these provisions from the defense bill.
Paul, of course, voted against the detention measure.
Feinstein explains her detention maneuvering
The following letter appeared on the internet and appears to be credible.
Thank you for writing to express your concerns about the detention provisions in the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.” I appreciate knowing your views and welcome the opportunity to respond.
This year’s defense authorization bill would, among other things, authorize funding for the U.S. Department of Defense. As you know, section 1031 would authorize the U.S. government to detain suspected terrorists until the end of hostilities, and section 1032 would require that certain suspected terrorists connected to al-Qaeda be automatically detained in military custody when apprehended.
Like you, I oppose these provisions. Section 1031 is problematic because it authorizes the indefinite detention of American citizens without due process. In this democracy, due process is a fundamental right, and it protects us from being locked up by the government without charge. For this reason, I offered an amendment to prohibit the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial or charge. Unfortunately, on December 1, 2011, this amendment failed by a vote of 45-55.
I was, however, able to reach a compromise with the authors of the defense bill to state that no existing law or authorities to detain suspected terrorists are changed by this section of the bill. While I would have preferred to have restricted the government’s ability to detain U.S. citizens without charge, this compromise at least ensures that the bill does not expand the government’s authority in this area.
I also oppose section 1032 of the defense bill, which creates a presumption that individuals associated with al-Qaeda will be held in military custody, as opposed to being processed through the criminal justice system. I disagree with this approach, and believe that the President should be able to hold captured terrorists in the military or the criminal justice systems based on the individual facts and evidence of each case. Accordingly, I offered an amendment to clarify that under section 1032, the presumption of U.S. Armed Forces detention only exists for an individual captured abroad. Unfortunately, on December 1, 2011, this amendment also failed on a vote of 45-55..." (Final formalities omitted.)
Nevertheless, Feinstein relented and voted for the detention measure.
Newz from Limbo is a news site and, the hosting mechanism notwithstanding, should not be defined as a web log or as 'little more than a community forum'... Write News from Limbo at Krypto78=at=gmail=dot=com... The philosophical orientation of Newz from Limbo is best described as libertarian... For anti-censorship links: http://veilside78.blogspot.com/2010/12/anti-censorship-spectrum_23.html (If link fails, cut and paste it into the url bar)... You may reach some of Paul Conant's other pages through the sidebar link or at http://paulpages.blogspot.com/