Friday, December 27, 2013

NDAA Passed While Media Preoccupied With Robertson Controversy

posted by M Caulfield
tumblr_my73x3j25Z1snxtooo1_500Many people have been in a frenzy over the controversy of a certain popular reality show, but while this was going on, last Thursday, the US Senate passed the NDAA, National Defense Authorization Act.  The vote passed 84-15, with all of the nay votes coming from Republicans, with the exception of Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent.
The NDAA retains it’s most controversial aspect, the notorious section 1021, which allows the government to detain any American citizen for an unlimited amount of time without due process.  Senator Ted Cruz explained this as his reasoning for the no vote.
“Today I voted against the National Defense Authorization Act.  I am deeply concerned that Congress still has not prohibited President Obama’s ability to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens arrested on American soil without trial or due process.  Not only ethically reprehensible, this is illegal: the bill of rights in the constitution does not allow President Obama, or any president, to apprehend American citizens,  and detain these citizens indefinitely without trial… 
When I ran for office, I promised the people of Texas I would oppose any National Defense Authorization Act that did not explicitly prohibit the indefinite detention of American citizens.  Although this legislation does contain several positive provisions that I support, it does not ensure our most basic rights as American citizens are protected.” Cruz said
Another disturbing section of this NDAA, Section 1071, beefs up the already high levels of spying by the NSA.  Section 1071 outlines the creation of the “Conflict Records Research Center”, where the unconstitutionally obtained information that the NSA has collected is compiled and shared with the Department of Defense.  This information, referred to as “captured records,” can be anything from your phone records, emails, browsing history or posts on social media sites.

indefTwo other noteworthy clauses that were initially expected to be in the 2013 version of this bill were not included. The first clause would have eased restrictions on the transferring of Gitmo detainees, which would have given the president more flexibility in dealing with those prisoners. The 2nd unincluded controversial amendment, proposed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, would have taken the decisions about prosecuting sexual assaults within the military away from the normal military chain of command, although commanders can now no longer overturn sexual assault convictions.
As usual, there is a lack of any general acknowledgment from the mainstream press over the recent passage (again) of this gross civil liberties violation. Regardless of the numerous scandals that the administration has recently faced, and public backlash over its’ broad and sweeping “domestic surveillance” program, the state has unsurprisingly chosen again to pass the bill. Another critical piece of legislation, which enables the state to further violate the liberty of the people, was over-shadowed by a trivial controversy (Duck Dynasty fiasco) that was hyped by the media.
The ever-changing definition of “terrorism” provided for to us by the state, has now expanded to describe individuals who are reverent of individual liberty, suspicious of centralized authority, and identified potential “terrorist activity” to include such trivialities as paying with cash. The state has undeniably been plagued by a pattern of corruption, favoring the financial elite rather than representing the wellbeing of its own people.

Sen. Justin Amash, along with Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, and others, began an initiative several months ago to curb the expanding jurisdiction entrusted to the NSA. Their amendment bill, the USA Freedom Act, has promised to stop the unconstitutional spying. But like most federal endeavors, it comes up short in truly protecting the people and limiting the power of the state or economic interests. The creation of unclear crimes punisheable indefinite detention are a recipe for oppression, no matter how you want to spin it.