indefinite detention

The Domestic Cold War

Joel Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. Previously he worked in Washington, D.C. in public policy for organizations such as the Leadership Institute, the Cato Institute, and the White House Office of Public Liaison. He studied Statesmanship at the undergraduate level and Global Affairs at the postgraduate level.

The battle lines are drawn. The great war between America’s government and her people fast approaches.

No, this isn’t some dystopian near-future science fiction scenario. This is present-day America we’re talking about. There’s a growing hostility between the U.S. government and certain incorrigible freedom-loving citizens, with the live-and-let-lives caught on the side of their more rowdy fellows, despite best efforts to bury their heads in the sand.

But where are all the battles? Where are the troops filling the streets? Where are the tanks rolling across the countryside, steamrolling all dissidents in their path? In waiting, that’s where. This isn’t a traditional armed conflict I’m predicting; at least, not yet. It’s a cold war. Each side is building up its record of hostile actions against the other, all stopping short of the point of no return.

First there’s the war over control of information. The degree to which the U.S government has pursued whistleblowers, leakers, and all those who would enforce transparency is worrisome, almost to the point of making the American people out to be some sort of sworn enemy. Almost. As the Bradley Manning trial showed, they will prudently stop short of making that overt declaration of war.

NDAA Passes House, Indefinite Detention Still in Statute


While the nation was fully focused on the NSA scandals and Edward Snowden, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014. Republicans who voted no on H. R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, included Rep. Justin Amash (MI-03),and Rep. Thomas Massie (KY-04).

Out of the nearly 200 NDAA amendments introduced to the House for voting, only one could have prevented the mandatory military custody of an American citizen without charge or trial: the Smith-Gibson Amendment would eliminate the indefinite military detention of any person taken into custody under the authority of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). This amendment failed by receiving 200 ayes and 226 nays. Out of the 226 votes in opposition to this article, 213 came from Republican congressmen.

Through the NDAA, the U.S. Congress determines how much of the budget can be dedicated to military spending. With the passing of the NDAA of 2014, Congress kept policies that have been in effect since the Bush administration without challenging the request for $614 million required for military construction and civilian infrastructure projects for Guam.

The Best Defense Against Terrorism


The specter of terrorism, especially on the American homeland is very frightening. These fears are especially acute in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack such as the bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

More recently and prior to this latest attack, however; according to a recent Gallup poll, terrorism received 0% when asked about America’s greatest problem. Sen. Mitch McConnell said in response to the mathon bombing: “I think it’s safe to say that, for many, the complacency that prevailed prior to September 11th has returned. And so we are newly reminded that serious threats to our way of life remain.

Is Sen. McConnell right? Have Americans become complacent to these “serious threats”? Are Americans to blame for failing to be vigilant? Should we demand the federal government “do something” more to protect us?

Left taking issue with Dems on civil liberties

civil liberties

Most people seem to come to libertarianism from the right.  It honestly makes sense when you think about it.  The right tends to be a place of minimal government and typically argues for more freedom.  The problems kick in on some specific issues.  Many libertarians came to libertarianism after searching for a more consistent ideology.

Me?  I’m a bit of an oddball.  I came from the left.  I came from a place of seeking more consistency on the issue of civil liberties that I was getting from the Democrats.  There have been times when I wondered if there was ever being a small “L” libertarian in the Democratic Party.  Based on what’s being reported over the party’s new platform, I can see that is a resounding “no.”

The piece points out several issues where the Democratic Party has decided to back away from their stances on civil liberties just four years ago.  Issues like indefinite detention, closing Gitmo, illegal wiretaps, and racial profiling all pretty much continue without any modification from President Bush’s era.  Even torture, for which many wanted heads on the proverbial pikes, has reportedly continued despite an executive order ending the practice.

So which conservative or libertarian publication makes such remarkes about President Obama and the Democratic Party?  Townhall?  Nope. Red State? Not even close.

The Weekly Standard? No. The National Review? Hardly. Reason? Wrong again. Try the left leaning Mother Jones.

Many on the left are less than pleased that Obama has done so poorly on civil liberties.  That says nothing over any meaningful move on gay rights (besides the appeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”) or a host of other issues.

Five issues that will not win the 2012 election

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen Republicans begin to criticize President Barack Obama on various ancillary issues. Some of them are valid. Others not so much. Poll after poll shows that Americans are more concerned about the economy and jobs than other issues that may pop up in the news or the various memes that may arise from either the right or the left.

Here are some of the oft-repeated issues that have come up in recent days that conservatives and Republicans should stay away from if they hope to beat Obama and Democrats in the fall.

Social Issues: We’ve been over this one before thanks to the contraceptive kerfuffle earlier this year. It ended up being a bad issue for Republicans and they took a hit with women in the polls. They were largely right, in that taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund contraceptives and that the mandate was an infringement of the First Amendment on religious organizations that now have to pay for something to which they may have a moral objection.

More recently, however, it looks like they learned their lesson. When President Obama announced his support for gay marriage at the state-level, Republicans in Congress were mostly silent, though they did reinterate their support for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is facing a legal challenge. That doesn’t mean that it won’t come up again during the course of the next several months, as we get close to November.

Polls show that social issues, such as gay marriage and abortion, are not on minds of voters, particularly independents. And perhaps even more of important are polls that show a majority of Americans are supportive of gay marriage.

Recall of NDAA supporters?

No state is perfect, but Montana seems intent on trying anyways.  Their most recent attempt is a move to recall Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester for their support of the tyrannical National Defense Authorization Act which, for those who’ve been living under a rock, essentially turns the entire United States into a war zone for the purposes of pursuing “terrorists” and permits the indefinite detention of American citizens on U.S. soil.

(HELENA) - Moving quickly on Christmas Day after the US Senate voted 86 - 14 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA) which allows for the indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial, Montanans have announced the launch of recall campaigns against Senators Max Baucus and Jonathan Tester, who voted for the bill.

Montana is one of nine states with provisions that say that the right of recall extends to recalling members of its federal congressional delegation, pursuant to Montana Code 2-16-603, on the grounds of physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of certain felony offenses.

The Salem News goes on to state that the issue of a state’s ability to recall federal officials has never reached the federal courts.  In reality, I suspect that the federal courts would strike down such a law as unconstitutional primarily because it would actually give states the ability to actually do something when the federal government oversteps its power, somthing that the courts seem intent on keeping as the status quo.

Obama Says He’s Not Dick Cheney — Dick Cheney Disagrees

Dick Cheney

During a recent closed-door meeting with Senate Democrats, President Barack Obama fended off questions about his controversial drones program, which could put American citizens accused of terrorism in its crosshairs. In seeking to downplay his administration’s use of drones, President Obama claimed that he is no Dick Cheney, whose hawkish foreign policy views carried significant weight in the Bush Administration:

President Barack Obama’s defense to Democratic senators complaining about how little his administration has told Congress about the legal justifications for his drone policy: Dick Cheney was worse.

That’s part of what two senators in the room recounted of Obama’s response when, near the outset of his closed-door session with the Senate Democratic conference on Tuesday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) confronted the president over the administration’s refusal for two years to show congressional intelligence committees Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the use of lethal force against American terror suspects abroad.
“This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here,” he said, according to Democratic senators who asked not to be named discussing the private meeting.

Dick Cheney apparently didn’t get that memo. The former vice president spoke positively of President Obama’s drones program last month in an interview with Charlie Rose. Cheney said, “I think it’s a good program and I don’t disagree with the basic policy that the Obama administration is pursuing now in those regards.”

ICYMI: Ted Cruz Fires Up Conservatives in CPAC Keynote Speech

Ted Cruz

In case you missed it, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave fiery, red meat keynote speech last night at CPAC. He started off by talking about Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster, noting that his participation in it was the first time he’d spoke on the Senate floor. He responded to Sen. John McCain’s post-filibuster comments, in which the Arizona Senator called them “wacko birds.” Sen. Cruz declared, “If standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a ‘wacko bird,’ then count me a proud wacko bird.”

Noting the shift in the narrative over the last few weeks, Sen. Cruz told CPAC, “We’re winning right now.” He then went on to discuss the need to repeal ObamaCare, and slammed Senate Democrats for unanimously voting to maintain funding the law.

Sen. Cruz outlined two things that Republicans need to do. First, Sen. Cruz said, is “Defend the Constitution.” Liberty is under assault from every direction.” He knocked Senate Democrats — with the exception of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) — for sitting out Sen. Paul’s filibuster. Sen. Cruz defended the First Amendment, noting campaign finance laws are pushed by politicians who don’t want to be held accountable for their actions, and Second Amendment. Sen. Cruz defended due process and called for repeal of the NDAA and criticized the indefinition detention provision of the law.

Rand Paul’s New Friends

On Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) made a historic stand filibustering the nomination of John Brennan over the federal government’s claim that it has the right to kill Americans on American soil, redefining “imminence,” “battlefield,” and “war” in general. The nation tuned in to see what I consider to be the most courageous political act in modern American history.

The #StandWithRand hashtag exploded on Twitter, and Rand Paul was ultimately joined by fourteen others in his filibuster: in order, Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Jerry Moran, Ron Wyden (a Democrat), Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Saxby Chambliss, John Cornyn, John Barasso, Ron Johnson, John Thune, Jeff Flake, Tim Scott, and Mitch McConnell (the Minority Leader).  Every Senator who joined Rand Paul should be congratulated as they gave him both physical and political strength to go longer, and therein make a HUGE stride in advancing the Freedom Movement.

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.

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