NDAA's imprisonment without trial provisions are trying for a second chance at life. Remind me to put V For Vendetta back on the Netflix queue...
Here's what's up. As reported yesterday, "The White House has filed an appeal in hopes of reversing a federal judge's ruling that bans the indefinite military detention of Americans because attorneys for the president say they are justified to imprison alleged terrorists without charge.
Manhattan federal court Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in May that the indefinite detention provisions signed into law late last year by US President Barack Obama failed to 'pass constitutional muster' and ordered a temporary injunction to keep the military from locking up any person, American or other, over allegations of terrorist ties. On Monday, however, federal prosecutors representing President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta filed a claim with the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in hopes of eliminating that ban."
If you're new to this whole thing — that's okay, the major U.S. television networks appear to be running an actual blackout on this court case today (I've been begging them for 8 months now to cover NDAA in-depth) — the key point is this: alleged terrorists.
Let's say you decide to sleep with a police officer or TSA agent's ex-girlfriend, and this annoys said law enforcement official.
He can say to his superiors, "I don't know, I think this guy might be supporting terrorism in some way — I mean, that's my guess, at least."
Boom. Rest of your life in a sketchy off-grid prison like the one Bane puts Bruce Wayne in, without charge or trial. No access to the lawyer phone call you see on CSI: Miami. You don't even have time to post a status update on Facebook to let your friends know not to expect you anytime soon at the next LAN party, because you've been black-bagged.
Now, let me clarify some stuff, since I am running for U.S. Congress (largely to fight things like imprisonment without trial and bank bailouts). I am not opposed to going after terrorists. Unlike some of my libertarian friends, I see the very real need for continuing to fund our spy programs — we can keep tabs on our enemies overseas without violating American citizens' rights here at home. When it comes to fighting violent extremists fueled by an ideology of hatred, there is zero margin of error: they cannot be allowed to succeed even once.
BUT, the NDAA's indefinite detention provisions go far beyond that noble goal. Once you allow for imprisonment without trial on suspicion alone — a practice we see in some of the most oppressive regimes on Earth — you create a VERY slippery slope where anyone who disagrees with the government, anyone who attends a peaceful afternoon protest or politically-minded cookout, and anyone who sleeps with a TSA agent's ex-girlfriend might be at risk of unimaginable injustice. It also creates a chilling effect within the media. Our journalists are lazy enough without letting them know that covering controversial issues could result in their black-bagging and imprisonment. They'll stop doing journalism altogether.
Americans shouldn't have to fear their own government. They shouldn't have to fear being taken in the night. Things like right to trial and due process are at the very bedrock of our way of life. I'd like to see it stay that way.