Thursday, December 8, 2011

But I LIKED Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

We're going to take an unusual detour from our regularly scheduled programming into politics.  I realize that my readers (all three of you--how I cherish you!) don't come here for political disquisitions. However, this particular issue is important enough to be an exception.

The Senate has recently passed a bill (S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act) containing provisions that allows US citizens on US soil to be detained indefinitely by the military without trial. (It is a measure of how low we've sunk that we're accustomed to detaining non-citizens indefinitely, and we barely blink when US citizens are detained--or assassinated--by the US on foreign soil. But at least for the moment, the idea of detaining US citizens here at home indefinitely is shocking and appalling.  As it should be.)

The House also has a version of this bill (H. 1540), so the two bills are now in conference to be brought into consistency with one another prior to final passage and signature by the president.  The White House, though it has made some vague rumblings about vetoing it, appears to be doing so under the deranged impression that the problem with the bill it that it is too limiting in its scope of presidential prerogative.

If you like freedom, or America, or justice, or if you are opposed to banana republics in general and to living in one in particular, please write to the morally bankrupt goons in DC and tell them to knock it the fuck off. I don't know how they justify their actions to themselves (to us, they use a lot of bloviation about "protecting the American people" and how traitors don't deserve defense lawyers), but this bill is a wholesale violation of Amendments 5 and 6 of the Bill of Rights, which were intended to protect us against detention without due process and indefinite detention. 

On the lefty side, here's a detailed breakdown of the issue by Salon's Glenn Greenwald. The NY Times has a piece as well.

Right-wingers and libertarians have no reason to favor this bill, either.  To his credit, Rand Paul was one of only SEVEN* senators to speak and vote against NDAA.  Here's a right-wing perspective from The American Spectator.

The ACLU has a form letter you can use that they will automatically forward to your reps and senators.

Alternately, you can write your own letter and post it to each of your rep/senators/president will get you their contact info.

If you live in my neck of the woods, these are your elected representatives:

And here's what I wrote.  It's probably too wordy and sarcastic, and it will presumably only be glanced at by an aide or two and then deleted, but if enough of us write in... maybe the aide's delete finger will get a cramp.  That's something.

The National Defense Authorization Act is a travesty. It is blatantly unconstitutional, and more than that, it is immoral, unethical, and, by furthering the corruption of the government, undermines the stability of the country.  

It is difficult to find language strong enough to describe how evil and dangerous this legislation is, particularly sections 1031-1032 of the Senate version of the bill (S. 1867), which allow US citizens to be indefinitely imprisoned by the military and allow the military to imprison anyone who “substantially supports” al Qaida.

I’m appalled that I should have to point this out to the legislative branch of the government—people whose basic job qualifications include a passing familiarity with the US Constitution—but indefinite detention and detention without due process are blatantly, trenchantly, utterly unconstitutional. The Fifth and Sixth Amendments are perfectly clear on this point:  [No person shall be] deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; and In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial. This echoes that fundamental formulation of American values from the Declaration: that among our inalienable rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

You cannot attack a more essential principal of our government, even of our identity as Americans. It is ironic that this egregious example of legislative malfeasance is being defended in the name of fighting treason. The legislation itself is a more violent piece of treason against America than all of al Qaida’s bombing and shootings, including September 11th. In fact, it might be looked upon as al Qaida’s crowning achievement.

I vehemently urge you to vote against this bill when it emerges from conference. And I will vote against—and campaign against—anyone who supported it.


I had trouble coming up with an illustration for this post, but I finally decided to go with the cute little girl in the Statue of Liberty costume.  Let's not let this little girl down, okay?

*The seven nays were Coburn (R-OK), Harkin (D-IA), Lee (R-UT), Merkley (D-OR), Paul (R-KY), Sanders (I-VT), Wyden (D-OR).


Bob said...

It is apparent that your vocabulary is far larger than mine and your grasp of word manipulation is extraordinary. My own letter of complaint and contempt was laced with four letter expletives and I am sure they thought it was from some piss poor trailer house trash and was promptly deposited into file 13.

Yours on the other hand, was excellent and much better said what I want to say. If I had seen it earlier I would have copied and pasted.

It is disgusting that I spent 3 years of my life (not voluntarily) and 11 months and 11 days with my life in dire straights for an idea of freedom that is being chipped away at every year by our elected officials that know nothing of the constitution.

Elgin_house said...

Oh, Bob--I'm so glad to know that other folks did write in about this--expletives and all. It deserves expletives. And it passed with what seemed like barely a murmur in the press.

I completely agree with what you said: they are chipping away (or hacking away with a pickaxe) at our core values of individual liberty and the value of the individual.

When that's gone, America is dead. It's just a piece of geography with a really shiny military industrial complex.

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