civil liberties

Sen. Rand Paul on NDAA and indefinite detention

Rand Paul

As noted this morning, a conference committee is expected to remove language passed via the Feinstein-Lee Amendment, protecting Americans against indefinite detention by military without trail.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who voted for the amendment and has been pushing for great protection of civil liberties, just released the following statement. As you can see, Paul does not hide who he blames for the removal of the language protecting the due process rights of Americans:

The decision by the McCain led conference committee to strip the National Defense Authorization Act of the amendment that protects American citizens against indefinite detention now renders the entire NDAA unconstitutional.

The Feinstein-Lee amendment that passed with a 67-29 vote last month was designed to guarantee citizens the right to due process and a jury trial. These are basic and core American legal privileges enshrined in our Bill of Rights and that have been observed since our nation’s founding. Removing these indefinite detention protections now means that NDAA is in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

I voted against NDAA in 2011 because it did not contain the proper constitutional protections. When my senate colleagues voted to include those protections in the 2012 NDAA through the Feinstein-Lee Amendment last month, I supported this act.

But removing those protections now takes us back to square one and does as much violence to the Constitution as last year’s NDAA. When government can arrest suspects without a warrant, hold them without trial, deny them access to counsel or admission of bail, we have shorn the Bill of Rights of its sanctity.

Amendment barring indefinite detention to be stripped from NDAA


Around this time last year, Congress passed and the White House signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. This ordinarily routine house-keeping legislation was controversial for a few different reasons, but shady language dealing with indefinite detention of anyone merely suspected of terrorist activity — including American citizens.

Last month, the United States Senate adopted an amendment to the NDAA offered by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) that would have limited the federal government’s ability to detain American citizens.

Unfortunately, the New York Times reported last night that the Feinstein-Lee Amendment, which easily cleared the Senate, will be dropped in the conference committee version of the NDAA:

Lawmakers charged with merging the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act decided on Tuesday to drop a provision that would have explicitly barred the military from holding American citizens and permanent residents in indefinite detention without trial as terrorism suspects, according to Congressional staff members familiar with the negotiations.

Big Boi isn’t a fan of Barack Obama

Big Boi

During a recent interview with a New York-based radio station, Big Boi — one-half of the hip-hop group, Outkast — discussed an incident that took place in an airport just after the election.

Apparently, a “white lady” approached Big Boi, whose real name is Antwon Patton, and congratulated him on his “big win,” referring to President Barack Obama’s re-election. The only problem is that Big Boi didn’t vote for Obama, but rather Gary Johnson:

Honestly, who cares that he voted for Johnson? It’s just absurd that people assume, just because of the color of his skin, that he voted for Barack Obama.

In fact, Big Boi recently ripped Obama in an interview with Pitchfork Media. The Daily Caller notes that Big Boi took issue with the policies that have been implemented by the federal government that infringes on the liberties of Americans:

In a recent interview with Pitchfork Media, the rapper opened up about his dismay that Mary J. Blige chose to use her guest appearance on his 2008 single “Sumthin’s Gotta Give” to praise Obama.

“I didn’t tell her to do that,” Big Boi contended. “On my damn record. I had a problem with it. I’m not pro-government at all, I’m pro-people.”

Punk rock is (politically) dead


Just after the election, I ran across an interesting post by Mark Judge over at Acculturated titled, “Punk Rock’s Moment.” Growing up listening to and playing in a punk rock band, the post got my attention.

With punk rock’s anti-authority roots, Judge explains that this community “has an opportunity to become relevant again,” in light of President Obama’s re-election:

Punk is often considered an anarchic or at least liberal art form, but politically it has been all over the map. Most famously there was Johnny Ramone, the right-wing guitarist for the Ramones. And while the famous Washington, D.C., harDCore scene, once lead by Fugazi, was–is?–full of left-wing activism, the “straight edge” philosophy of some of the band–no booze no drugs–could almost be considered monastic. The Replacements was always more about parties and poetry than elections.

Arguably the greatest satirical punk band of all time was the Dead Kennedys. To be sure, the band and especially its leader Jello Biafra are not Republicans; Biafra, a Green Party member, was last seen at an Occupy event in New York City. But in its prime, the DKs did something that liberal artists these days seem incapable of: they questioned their own beliefs. In songs like “Hop with the Jet Set” and “Where Do Ya Draw the Line?” the group second-guessed left-wing dogma. It mocked celebrity worship. It expressed healthy self-deprecation. And it did so in a style of high literacy and humor. Hearing the DKs today makes Green Day sound like Britney Spears.

Remember when executive power and civil liberties were a big deal?

You mad, bro?

Consistency matters, folks. When George W. Bush was in office, there were near endless complaints from the Left as civil liberties were being diminished and executive power was being strengthened, far beyond what our Founding Fathers had ever intended. The complaints make against Bush were well-founded at the time. However, since Barack Obama has been running the show, we’ve heard nary a peep out of those same people. Apparently, civil liberties are only abused when the president has an “R” next to his name. Or something.

Interestingly, The New York Times recently noted that President Obama was worried that the expansion of executive power undertaken during his first term — including the targeted killing of American citizens — would fall into Republican hands:

Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.
“There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity. With a continuing debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, Mr. Obama did not want to leave an “amorphous” program to his successor, the official said. The effort, which would have been rushed to completion by January had Mr. Romney won, will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the official said.

Mr. Obama himself, in little-noticed remarks, has acknowledged that the legal governance of drone strikes is still a work in progress.

Senate bill could allow feds to snoop around your e-mail, online accounts

Patrick Leahy

How do you feel about the feds snooping around your e-mail account without a warrant? According to Declan McCullagh, that’s exactly what a bill sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would do if passed:

A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans’ e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law, CNET has learned.

Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy’s staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail, is scheduled for next week.

Leahy’s rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to access Americans’ e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge.

Ron Paul gives farewell speech to the House

“If it’s not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties.” - Ron Paul, in his farewell speech to Congress

Yesterday afternoon, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) gave his farewell speech in the House of Representatives. Paul, a two-time Republican presidential candidate, announced last year that he would not run for re-election. During redistricting last year, Republicans in the Texas legislature broke up the 14th District, bringing in some 300,000 new voters.

During his 48-minute speech, Paul hit on familiar themes, explaining the dangers of our current foreign policy and promoting free markets. Paul also said a couple of very profound points by noting that “our Constitution has failed” to protect Americans from government overreach and knocked “religious organizations, secular organizations and psychopathic authoritarians” seek to abuse our personal and economic liberties:

You can watch Paul’s farewell to the House below:

The real reason I’m voting for Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson

Like a number of libertarian-leaning voters I am planning to cast my ballot for Gary Johnson in a few weeks.  There are a couple of reasons for this, but none more important to me personally than the fact that America is in dire need of an alternative to the Republican and Democratic parties.  Every four years these two behemoths go at each other’s throats over mostly fringe issues, and we’re all supposed to pretend that we are really choosing between two different people.  In reality, on most issues, there is scant difference.  So given the chance to vote for a legitimate contender like Johnson, it is simply too good a chance to turn down.

But I also realize that no-third party candidates will be President this year, so I decided to take a look at who was running in several lower-level elections for my county in Pennsylvania.  In four elections — specifically Attorney General, Auditor General, State Treasurer and U.S. Senator, there is a Libertarian Party candidate.  But when I began to search for information on these candidates, not a single one had a website beyond a bare-bones Facebook page. As much as I would like to vote third-party in these elections, I can’t really do so because I don’t know anything about the people running.  And I simply cannot take any candidate seriously when they don’t have a website in 2012.  That to me represents the bare minimum in promotion and makes me extremely wary.

Reason responds to Samuel L. Jackson

In a recent web ad for a pro-Obama PAC, Samuel L. Jackson explained to complacent voters that they need to “wake the f*ck up” and start doing more to help President Obama in his campaign against Mitt Romney.

In the bedtime story-ish ad, Jackson toes the usual leftist pro-union, class warfare lines, rips Romney and Ryan as being against a social safety-net to get the family he’s talking to motivated. Much of the rhetoric in the video is exaggerated to the point of being absurd.

The folks over at decided to parody the video, using it to point out President Obama’s horrible record on foreign policy and civil liberties — points that Obama supporters, often gloss over:

Hugo Chavez: “I’d vote for Obama

Hugo Chavez

Back in July, I noted that Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez had “endorsed” President Barack Obama in his bid for re-election. Chavez, who has enacted a number of policies to nationalize parts of his country’s economy, made it clear once again over the weekend that his preference in the race is President Obama:

With both presidents facing tight re-election fights, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez gave a surprise endorsement to Barack Obama on Sunday - and said the U.S. leader no doubt felt the same.

“I hope this doesn’t harm Obama, but if I was from the United States, I’d vote for Obama,” the socialist Chavez said of a man he first reached out to in 2009 but to whom he has since generally been insulting.

Breaking news…socialists like Obama over Mitt Romney. I’m shocked — shocked, I tell you. Back in June, the Communist Party USA made it clear that they were backing Obama and Democrats in 2012, choosing what they consider to be the “lesser of two evils.”

Nevertheless, Obama’s hawkish foreign policy and contempt for civil liberties doesn’t exactly jive with the stated views of the hardcore Left, many of which were recently explained by Conor Friedersdorf and expounded upon this morning. Not to mention that, despite his pro-labor views, Obama really is really just another corporatist, when it all comes down to it.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.