NDAA

Obama Administration backing NDAA’s indefinite detention provision in court

Barack Obama

Last year, the Congress created quite a firestorm with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contained a provision that would allow for the indefinite detention of anyone merely suspected of terrorist activities, including American citizens. President Barack Obama issued a veto threat, which was strange given that the White House asked for the provision, but eventually backed off.

In May, a federal judge shot down the the NDAA because of the impact it could have on the First Amendment — you know, that fundamental civil liberty for which President Obama seems to have little regard. The Obama Administration is, of course, fighting the ruling in court because, as Lucy Steigerwald explains, not having the ability to detain people without formal charges for the entirety of an open-ended “war on terror” would hurt the United States.

Ben Swann, a Cincinnati-based news anchor, recently asked President Obama about his support of the indefinite detention provision. President Obama does explain that in signing statement he promised not to use the power to detain United States citizens. Of course, that doesn’t stop a later administration from using the provision how they see fit.

More thoughts on Brandon Raub

Brandon Raub

There have been a couple of stories about Brandon Raub here at United Liberty.  This is one of those stories that is bound to get some legs in the pro-liberty community, so it’s no wonder that we’re discussing it.  It’s a story that has all the hallmarks of something we could sink our teeth into.

Marshall McCart wrote:

As of last night, Mr. Truth himself, Ben Swann, stated that he was on it. That makes me feel good. Ben will get to the bottom of it. He has said that at this point—it does not seem to be passing the smell test. Also, the Rutherford Institute has now come out in support of Mr. Raub. But until more information presents itself, I just can’t make an informed analysis; however, I will say this—if he wasn’t involuntarily committed in a proper way…if this was just the government deciding that they would detain this man for words he wrote. Then—we might have a problem. This might be a game-changer. This could be one of the biggest stories in America that hardly no one knows about. If this was done improperly, then the United States Government may have just committed an egregious error.

Meanwhile, Kevin Boyd wrote:

Brandon Raub: Not A Martyr, But Still A Victim

I’m going to have to disagree with my colleague Kevin on the Brandon Raub case. Sure, I get that he is no martyr. (First of all, he isn’t dead. Yet.) But neither is there any cause for the man to picked up by the FBI and involuntarily put in custody for “psychiatric evaluation.”

We all know the comments on his Facebook wall. Kevin listed some of them. Yes, they looked like Mr. Raub was deeply frustrated with this country, and they were, I admit, a bit threatening. (“I’m coming for some heads,” “There will be justice,” etc.). But is that grounds for arresting him? I find that very doubtful.

If my mother had posted what she had said to me on a daily basis as a kid to a Facebook wall, she would no doubt be arrested. That’s because, half the time I did something very stupid and aggravating, she would shout “I’m going to kill you!” Now that’s a statement many would take as one of intent to kill. But did my mother ever intend to murder me? Of course not. (She might say otherwise, but really, she never wanted to hurt me.) Yet some overzealous law enforcement officer or child protective services agent might have seen that and had my mother locked up, for really no good reason.

Brandon Raub Is No Martyr

Editor’s note: This is one of two takes on the Brandon Raub story that have been posted today. You can read Marshall McCart’s thoughts here.

The Internet has been up in arms over the detention of former Marine and libertarian activist Brandon Raub. His supporters have been claiming that he has been detained because of the fact he criticized the government and his support for 9/11 “Truth” and other conspiracy theories, which threatens the First Amendment. While the FBI and local police claim that he had posted some threatening posts on his Facebook page and they went and interviewed him as is standard operating procedure. A judge has ordered Mr. Raub held under psychiatric evaluation for the next 30 days in a mental hospital. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Raub is no martyr but instead he is a fool whose posts on Facebook certainly can be construed as calling for violence.

Mr. Raub, like many other wannabe political activists do, use their Facebook pages for political activism. His Facebook wall was full of criticisms of the United States government, the “New World Order”, and the promotion of various conspiracy theories. His profile picture is him standing shirtless in front of a US Marine Corps flag while brandishing a shotgun.

The posts themselves usually consisted of things like one that was posted on August 13:

Sharpen up my axe; I’m here to sever heads.

Here’s another one posted on August 12 about alleged chemtrails:

Judge Napolitano slams Obama over secret “kill list”

The New York Times recently reported that President Barack Obama keeps a secret “kill list” of terror suspects. Given the uproar during the last several months over the NDAA, which allows for the indefinite detention of terror suspects, even those captured inside the United States, such a list is sure to send a chill down the spine of civil liberties advocates.

While apologists for Obama and neoconservatives will argue that this is part of the war on terrorism and claim legality for his actions due to the UAMF, Judge Andrew Napolitano recently explained that Obama’s “kill list” is blatanty unconstitutional:

We have known for some time that President Obama is waging a private war. By that I mean he is using the CIA on his own — and not the military after congressional authorization — to fire drones at thousands of persons in foreign lands, usually while they are riding in a car or a truck. He has done this both with the consent and over the objection of the governments of the countries in which he has killed. He doesn’t want to talk about this, but he doesn’t deny it. How chilling is it that David Axelrod — the president’s campaign manager — has periodically seen the secret kill list? Might this be to keep the killings politically correct?

Can the president legally do this? In a word: No.

Indefinite detention not the only problem with NDAA

Much has been made over the “indefinite detention” language included in the National Defense Authorization Act. As Ron noted earlier, an effort to fix the legislation — the Amash-Smith Amendment — was defeated by the House, which opted for much less clear language.

But the failure to get rid of the indefinite detention provision isn’t the only thing to be concerned about. The NDAA for FY 2013 includes a provision, sponsored by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), who sponsored the language to axe the indefinite detention provision, that would allow for taxpayer-funded propaganda to influence Americans:

An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.

The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.

The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.

The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.

Persons, Citizens, and Indefinite Detainment under NDAA

Late last week the House passed the 2013 NDAA. Last year during this process, allowances were made that allowed for the indefinite detainment – without trial – of people in the U.S. who were suspected of participating in terrorist activities or associating with people who did.

Keep in mind we’re talking about people merely suspected of a crime. Also keep in mind that the verbiage was so broad that it would be fairly easy for someone to accidentally fall into that category.

Cries came from civil libertarians over due process, and Michigan Congressman Justin Amash took the lead fighting the NDAA’s unconstitutionality on the Republican side of the aisle. He partnered with Democrat Adam Smith of Washington to offer an amendment to change the law to follow the Constitution. The GOP leadership pushed a competing amendment from Louie Gohmert of Texas. It passed the vote, and the Smith-Amash failed.

I asked my Congressman, Tom Graves, for an explanation of his opposition to the Smith-Amash amendment, and he referred me here. The concern from Graves was that “[the Smith-Amash] amendment would extend Constitutional rights and the right to judicial review to anyone apprehended in the United States,” something the Republicans are hesitant to do.

Except that’s how the process is supposed to work.

The concerns over the 2012 NDAA touched on a large portion of the Bill of Rights – arguably the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments,  and most definitely the Sixth Amendment. The disagreement between the GOP leadership and Amash’s position is whether the Constitution protects citizens or persons.

Consider these amendments. (The emphasis in these quotes is mine.)

Judge Rules NDAA Unconstitutional

Well, at least a part of it. From the Associated Press (via Newsday):

A judge on Wednesday struck down a portion of a law giving the government wide powers to regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists, saying it left journalists, scholars and political activists facing the prospect of indefinite detention for exercising First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan said in a written ruling that a single page of the law has a “chilling impact on First Amendment rights.” She cited testimony by journalists that they feared their association with certain individuals overseas could result in their arrest because a provision of the law subjects to indefinite detention anyone who “substantially” or “directly” provides “support” to forces such as al-Qaida or the Taliban. She said the wording was too vague and encouraged Congress to change it.

“An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so,” the judge said.

She said the law also gave the government authority to move against individuals who engage in political speech with views that “may be extreme and unpopular as measured against views of an average individual.

“That, however, is precisely what the First Amendment protects,” Forrest wrote.

In the words of our forefathers, Hallelujah.

Indefinite Detention and the NDAA

Should our government be able to indefinitely detain and deny a trial to American citizens suspected of a crime? Given the Constitutional guarantee of due process, that question could seem a bit absurd. Yet late last year the House and Senate gave us new provisions in the NDAA, one of which is the allowance of indefinite detention of American citizens.

This isn’t some heavy handed attack on freedom levied by the Democrats. It’s not even some measure that passed narrowly in the House before Harry Reid forced it on us in the Senate. No, this attack on freedom carries much bipartisan support. Both Republicans and Democrats support this insanity.

You can see the House’s roll call on the 2012 NDAA here and the Senate’s roll call on it here.

Last month I wrote a piece about Justin Amash, the Congressman from Michigan who is fighting to fix the indefinite detention provisions in the NDAA. Amash has been outspoken on this issue, and his time to fight is coming soon.

The answer to Amash’s concerns over the 2012 NDAA was to reinforce habeas corpus “for any person who is detained in the United States.” Though that sounds pretty good, Amash addresses this answer in a letter to his Republican colleagues:

Living the dystopian dream

Like many libertarians, I’m a huge fan of science fiction.  In particular, I love reading about dystopian futures.  I don’t know why, I just always have.

I’magine a story where the President of the United States can not be criticized to his face.  You are no longer allowed to voice your opinions within earshot of the president because the Secret Service can designate any area as being off limits for your First Amendment rights.  Let’s say the main character of the story does it anyways, in an act of civil disobedience, along with many of his friends.  They tell the sitting president that if he doesn’t start doing right, they will spend every waking minute to get him booted out of office.

The group is arrested for a felony because they violated the Secret Service’s orders, but because they used “intimidation” in the process, they’re called terrorists and packed off without due process and held indefinitely.

At the turn of the century, this would have sounded so far fetched that no one would have believed the story, and it would have failed. Good stories have to be believable after all, so a story on this kind of premise would be called “unsellable”.

Today, we call it “current events”.


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