S. 1253 will allow indefinite military detention of American civilians without charge or trial

Madison Ruppert, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

A sinister bill has quietly been introduced, so expansive in scope and dangerous in nature that it makes the PATRIOT Act look like the Bill of Rights.

This bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012, or S. 1253, has received tragically sparse coverage and I must admit that I was not aware of it until a reader emailed me about it.

If you think the PATRIOT Act is bad, just wait until you check out sections 1031, 1032, 1033, and 1036 of this horrific bill.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 1st of this year, addressed to the Chairman of the Committee, the “Honorable” Patrick Leahy, and Ranking Member of the Committee, the “Honorable” Charles Grassley who strongly decried the bill.

The title of the four-page letter itself reveals the truly dangerous nature of this legislation, “Judiciary Committee Should Assert Its Jurisdiction Over Those Aspects of the Detention Authority Provisions in S. 1253, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Sections 1031, 1032, and 1036), That Affect Civilians Who Are Otherwise Outside of Military Control, Including Civilians Within the United States Itself.”

If these provisions are enacted, it would give the federal government the explicit power to imprison civilians, including American citizens, indefinitely with no charges or trial.

This would include individuals apprehended both inside and outside of the United States, meaning that this could give the federal government the ability to openly detain American citizens for their entire lives without so much as a single charge.

While the federal government already murders American citizens abroad based upon the decision of an unlegislated secret death panel within the National Security Council, this would be the first time since 1950 that Congress has explicitly authorized indefinite detention of Americans without charges or a trial.

This provision includes people who had absolutely no role in the attacks of September 11th, 2001, or any hostilities whatsoever and would mandate military detention of certain civilians.

This includes civilians arrested within the United States who would otherwise be outside of military control while also transferring all responsibilities to the Department of Defense.

Instead of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, National Security Division, or the United States Attorneys, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Prisons, the Marshals Service and/or the state attorneys general handling the prosecutorial, investigative, law enforcement, penal and custodial authority, the Department of Defense would handle it all.

That means that all control would be taken out of the hands of civilians and put into the brutal grip of the American military, essentially meaning a military takeover of our so-called justice system.

All they would have to do is classify you as a terrorist, no need for actual charges or participation in hostilities; you could be locked up indefinitely for any reason or no reason at all if the Department of Defense saw fit under this NDAA.

This is so fundamentally un-American, the ACLU can’t help but write that the provisions are “inconsistent with fundamental American values embodied in the Constitution and in the country’s adherence to the rule of law.”

These provisions of the NDAA are so radical that they actually remove much of the protections American citizens have had since 1878 under the Posse Comitatus Act and the Non-Detention Act of 1971.

Section 1031 of S. 1253 would be the first time in more than 60 years that our so-called representatives in Washington would allow indefinite detention of American citizens with no charges or trial without Congressional authorization.

Since 1971 the Non-Detention Act has stipulated, “No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress,” but S. 1253 could make this a thing of the past.

The ACLU points out that while Subsection 1031(c) of S. 1253 claims that it does not apply to lawful residents of the United States or citizens “on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States except to the extent permitted by the Constitution,” glaring loopholes remain.

If the government’s track record is any indicator, we can expect these loopholes to be exploited at every possible opportunity.

Just as the federal government has used the PATRIOT Act’s so-called “Sneak-and-Peek,” or delayed notice, warrants for over 1,600 drug cases and only 15 cases of terrorism in 2006-2009, we can expect the government to use S. 1253 for detaining people for completely illegitimate reasons.

These loopholes allow suspects to be imprisoned without charge or trial, especially citizens or lawful residents who are suspected of some sort of wrongdoing outside of the United States.

The most unsettling aspect is that the deciding factor in determining if an individual can be detained indefinitely is not any proof of guilt, but instead entirely by officials in the Executive Branch, which, according to the ACLU would be “following some future agency regulations.”

This, just like the unlegislated death panel that resulted in the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, leaves it up to the Executive without any guidelines whatsoever.

It is quite shocking how much the federal government is attempting to push us towards a dictatorship with no legal protection whatsoever from being locked up with no hope of a fair trial or even charges.

Indeed the legislation would allow American citizens to be imprisoned “until the end of hostilities” under 2001’s Authorization for Use of Military Force, or S.J. Res. 23.

Yet this represents no concrete timeframe whatsoever, and Section 1031 would allow American citizens and non-citizen civilians who had no role in 9/11 or any other hostilities whatsoever to be detained who would otherwise not be detainable under the laws of war.

Section 1032 puts civilians who would otherwise not be subject to military control into military detention, thus removing the protections of the Posse Comitatus act.

Like Section 1031, this would include indefinite imprisonment of civilians apprehended inside of the United States. Section 1032 does not authorize the military to detain civilians without charge or trial, it in fact it mandates it.

The protection against the government using the military for law enforcement activities within the United States under Posse Comitatus would be eliminated under Section 1032 and the ACLU points out that, “all state and federal law enforcement would be preempted by the military.”

Previously the state and local law enforcement agencies and the Department of Justice had the primary responsibility to enforce anti-terrorism laws within the United States.

The NDAA would, in the case of many civilian suspects, remove federal state and local law enforcement from the process of investigation, arrest, criminal prosecution and imprisonment and hand said powers over to the military.

The ACLU “strongly urges” the Senate’s Judiciary Committee to conduct hearings on sections 1031, 1032, and 1036 and assert their jurisdiction to mark up these sections before the NDAA makes it to the Senate floor.

They say that the Judiciary Committee should assert their jurisdiction over these provisions in order to prevent civilian law enforcement against civilians who would otherwise be out of the purview of the military to fall into the hands of the military.

The ACLU’s letter does not, however, cover Section 1033 which Human Rights Watch claims would apply to the many detainees already being held for years without trial who have been cleared for release.

In a form letter with the subject, “Stop Militarization of Law Enforcement” they write that Section 1033 would, “force the administration, for example, to continue to hold a Guantanamo detainee simply because they were from a country of an accused terrorist.”

I highly recommend that you send out this form letter along with a note written by yourself to all of your supposed representatives, along with as many phone calls as you can afford to make it clear that you do not support the United States being turned into a total militarized police state.

While we are already in dire straits in terms of civil rights in this country, codifying indefinite military detention into law is one of the most dangerous developments since the introduction of the PATRIOT Act.

If you even remotely care about the principles of freedom, liberty and justice which this nation is supposed to stand for, you will do us all a favor and stand up against this wholly unacceptable legislation that could represent the end of America as we know it.

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at admin@EndtheLie.com


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