Madison Ruppert, Contributing Writer
Recently I reported on the highly controversial bill S. 1253, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year of 2012 which was introduced back in June.
This bill was replaced by the one introduced on the 15th of November, S. 1867. Today Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator John McCain of Arizona faced off on the floor of the Senate over a proposed amendment to S. 1867.
The minimal coverage this bill is getting in the corporate-controlled establishment media, especially when it comes to the massive danger it poses to everything America was built upon, is nothing short of deplorable.
I couldn’t agree more and this is the major fact that McCain and far too many others in Washington seem to miss. Or, equally likely, McCain and others are well aware of the erosion of civil liberties and have no interest in stopping it.
After all, it isn’t the sycophantic corrupt politicians in Washington that have to endure being groped by TSA goons or surreptitiously blasted with X-Rays by a passing DHS van; it is everyday Americans like you and me that are subjected to such absurd “counterterrorism” measures.
John McCain is a man who revels in death and suffering in true sociopathic style: joking about bombing Iran, calling for military operations in Syria, and supporting the murderous and thoroughly racist al Qaeda-affiliated Libyan rebels.
McCain is the epitome of Washington doublethink: in Libya, al Qaeda is good. Yet, is al Qaeda still the biggest threat to humanity, so much so that it justifies turning the entire world into a theater of war in which all rights are suspended in the name of the war on terror?
Senator Paul argued against the amendment to S. 1867 that McCain co-sponsored by saying, “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. [D]etaining American citizens without a court trial is not American.”
Unfortunately, the PATRIOT Act has already removed “some of the most important checks on state power in the name of fighting terrorism,” but there are very few politicians who will put their careers on their line in saying this fact.
McCain quickly attempted to defend the amendment he’s been peddling on the Senate floor by saying, “Facts are stubborn things. If the senator from Kentucky wants to have a situation prevail where people who are released go back in to the fight to kill Americans, he is entitled to his opinion.”
This is the typical, “Either you’re with us, or you’re with the terrorists,” fallacious logic employed by those in Washington who will take every opportunity to exploit the non-threat of terrorism as a method of control and erosion of civil liberties.
McCain, who is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is a member of the camp of individuals who either lie on a regular basis while knowing the facts, or are so deluded and removed from reality that they actually fear the al Qaeda bogeyman.
Senator McCain, just like the non-profit groups that are directly linked to the Department of Homeland Security, promotes a fear of terrorism that is completely at odds with the facts, using this climate of fear and paranoia to justify otherwise unacceptable legislation like S. 1867 and the PATRIOT Act.
McCain’s proposed amendment would allow the executive branch, which has already murdered American citizens abroad without so much as a single charge, to have power over whether a suspect is put through the civilian court system or through the military tribunal system.
Military tribunals are the complete antithesis of the civilian justice system, and putting American citizens through such a system would signal the death of everything the American justice system was built upon.
The most dangerous aspect of S. 1867 is not only that it could subject American citizens to military tribunals and detention, but also that individuals could be imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial.
Even if this was not used on American citizens, it represents a deplorable move that would only make the rest of the world hate us that much more, knowing that it is explicitly allowed for the American government to snatch up people and detain them forever without charge or trial.
If any other government were to even consider engaging in such behavior, people like Hillary Clinton who laughably claim to support human rights, would likely decry such moves.
Yet, the nonsensical logic of American exceptionalism makes people like McCain think that America has the right to operate outside of the rule of law (not to mention common decency and respect for other human beings) at home and abroad, so long as it is supposedly to combat terrorism.
Senator Paul countered McCain’s absurd assertion by saying, “I don’t think it necessarily follows I am arguing of the release of prisoners. I am simply arguing that particularly American citizens should not be sent to a foreign prison without due process.”
It amazes me that any such thing would have to even be argued. The Constitution is supposed to protect us from such egregious breaches of our inalienable rights; and our so-called representatives take an oath to protect the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic.
It is now clear that the true enemies of the Constitution, the ones that truly put our liberties in danger, are domestic.
They wear expensive suits and happily stroll through the halls of power in Washington, seemingly confident that they will not be treated as the traitorous criminals that they are.
McCain is one of these traitors who are launching an all-out assault on our way of life and our civil rights, S. 1867 is just the most recent, and most virulent, manifestation of this.
“An individual, no matter who they are, if they pose a threat to the security of the United States of America, should not be allowed to continue that threat,” McCain said in defense of his attack on our rights.
“We need to take every stop necessary to prevent that from happening, that’s for the safety and security of the men and women who are out there risking their lives … in our armed services,” McCain added.
The real people who put the men and women in our armed services at risk are warmongers like McCain who happily put Americans in the line of fire in order to keep their war profiteering cronies satisfied.
44 Republican Senators and 15 Democrats along with one Independent voted to keep the new detainee provisions in the NDAA, with Senator Paul and Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois being among the few Republicans who broke party ranks and sided with a majority of Democrats who voted to block the new provisions.
Paul argued, “If these provisions pass, we could see American citizens being sent to Guantanamo Bay,” while Republican Senator Lindsey Graham countered, “To be clear: These provisions do not apply to U.S. citizens.”
Did that stop the American government from murdering a citizen of the United States in Yemen in a drone attack?
No, in fact, the National Security Council’s secret death panel makes these decisions outside of all legislation and accountability, so Graham’s claim that it wouldn’t apply to American citizens is hollow, at best.
A couple of days ago Glenn Greenwald, a journalist for Salon and a former Constitutional and civil rights lawyer tweeted a very similar sentiment:
With very few exceptions, the McCain-Levin bill, awful though it is, doesn’t create any powers beyond what the O[bama] Admin[istration] thinks it now has.
The problem is that this bill would make it explicitly legal for the United States to conduct the horrific operations they have already been carrying out.
If this were to pass, there would be absolutely nothing standing in the way of the government rounding up dissidents who they could easily label terrorists or individuals planning/supporting terrorism (given the absurdly broad definition used).
They could then imprison them without charge or trial for however long they please, and if they have their way, they would be able to openly torture them, not just the torture deceptively labeled “enhanced interrogation” but torture that can go by no other name.
Of course, that is not to diminish the fact that the tactics now employed by the CIA and others are indeed torture. Just ask people like conservative radio host Mancow who was waterboarded and came to the conclusion that it is indeed torture after having held the complete opposite opinion previously.
Or if that isn’t enough proof, take the Vanity Fair article written by Christopher Hitchens in which he describes his experience being waterboarded which brought him to the exact same conclusion: waterboarding is torture.
Even Bahrain ostensibly has more democratic accountability for torture, although I think we all know that is about as legitimate as calling waterboarding “enhanced interrogation.”
McCain laughably claimed that the changes would “help defend our nation against the threat posed by al Qaeda while upholding our values and honoring our Constitution.”
This is especially hilarious given that McCain said that the al Qaeda-affiliated Libyan rebels “inspired the world” in carrying out their bloody revolution.
Does McCain actually believe that he has the power to pick and choose when individuals and groups directly linked to al Qaeda are good or bad?
How can they actually reconcile such absurdist moral relativism? Personally, I don’t think that McCain can actually believe the things he says unless he has actually been able to eliminate every bit of sense and logic that is innate in human beings.
To the many people commenting and emailing me claiming that this is overblown and it will not apply to American citizens, you might want to listen to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham’s own words on the Senate floor.
“In summary here, [section] 1032, the military custody provision, which has waivers and a lot of flexibility doesn’t apply to American citizens. [Section] 1031, the statement of authority to detain does apply to American citizens, and it designates the world as the battlefield including the homeland,” Graham said.
Is there really anything even remotely unclear here? Our government is making the final strides towards turning the brutal military apparatus that has slaughtered so many people abroad in the name of “freedom” back to our own people.
What we are witnessing now is truly historic, the American government is trying to explicitly codify the ability to detain Americans without trial or charge in a military facility under military rule with military tribunals.
While I argue that we already live in a police state, based on the citizen spying programs, ludicrous amounts of domestic surveillance, collection and storage of massive amounts of biometric information, and the Department of Homeland Security’s invisible surveillance state (just to mention a few) the passage of this bill would bring about a new dangerous paradigm in America.
Even if it was sold as something that wouldn’t apply to American citizens, like the PATRIOT Act was sold as a counterterrorism bill, it would undoubtedly be used against us regardless of these claims, just as the PATRIOT Act has been utilized in cases wholly unrelated to terrorism.
Even the officials from the Department of Justice readily admit that the PATRIOT Act is being used against non-terrorist American citizens.
As you will see in the above video, they admit that the PATRIOT Act is used in cases completely unrelated to terrorism.
Is anyone really naïve enough to believe that the government will actually restrict the usage of S. 1867 to terrorists and not Americans who stand up to their corrupt, out of control, and wholly illegitimate criminal government?
To make matters even worse, the usage of drones in the United States is being considered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that the FAA plans to propose new rules this coming January, which would give free license to police departments and other domestic agencies to use them in the United States.
Yet, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have been used by law enforcement in the United States for some time now.
Currently, law enforcement agencies supposedly have to seek out emergency authorization from the FAA to use drones, which, according to The Washington Post is “only occasionally” granted.
The new FAA regulations coupled with turning the United States into a battlefield in which all Americans could be enemy combatants is dangerous, to say the least.
Given the fact that our current administration under the traitorous warmonger Barack Obama has no problem killing children with drones abroad, do we really think that they wouldn’t conduct such operations at home?
To an administration that commits extrajudicial executions of American citizens – and their 16-year-old child who was born in Denver, Colorado – is anything off the table?
The unfortunate and thoroughly disturbing reality is that our government has no problem carrying out such operations and S. 1867 would just make it that much easier by codifying it and creating an explicit legal apparatus through which they can operate.
I highly recommend that you explore at least some of the 344 proposed amendments for S. 1867 in the Library of Congress’ Thomas system which can be found here.
You can track all of the updates on the act with the amendments organized by date on this Library of Congress page.
As you can tell, the 28th was by far the busiest day so far in the life of S. 1867 with over 100 amendments considered in that single day, although this very well might be beat in coming days when our so-called representatives continue to debate turning the United States into a giant battlefield.
UPDATE: If the ridiculous assault on our inalienable rights embodied by S. 1867 wasn’t enough, the Senate is also considering repealing the anti-torture measures currently in place (lax though they may be).
This flies in the face of the fact that torture does not provide actionable intelligence or anything even remotely reliable unless you’re looking for a false confession to anything from terrorism to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
This bill must be stopped if we want to preserve anything that America is supposed to stand for. The PATRIOT Act was a crippling blow to the Constitution but S. 1867 would be the death of every last bastion of hope and freedom that was left after the vicious attacks on our civil liberties that have brought us to this point.
UPDATE 2: Updated throughout with more information. If I missed anything please do not hesitate to contact me right away at [email protected]
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