Tag Archives: Senate

I Plead the Fifth, Don’t Detain Me Bro

National Defense Authorization Act. Just taste those words for a moment.

Now that you’ve experienced what a pile of shit tastes like, let’s get down to business. For those of you who do not know what this act is, here is a small breakdown for you.

In 2001, immediately following the 9/11 attacks, an amendment to the (now) 48 year old NDAA was made. This amendment was called “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists”, or AUMF for short. What this amendment did to the NDAA was that it granted the President of the United States the authorization to use any force necessary against those who either planned, or was involved in the September 11 attacks. Under this act any terrorist suspect is allowed to be held indefinitely without a trial, this is why there are people in Guantanamo Bay that have never had a trial. Included in this bill was also the authorization to wirelessly wiretap any suspect at any time, whether inside or outside of the United States. Related to this, the USA PATRIOT Act (aka The Patriot Act) was also passed shortly after the attacks. This act granted law enforcement agencies the right to search any phone calls, any email, any communication whatsoever foreign and domestic, regulating financial transactions foreign and domestic, and it also expanded the definition of the word ‘terrorism’ to include domestic terrorism. Now, fast forward to December 15th 2011 where the US Senate approved an add-on bill to the NDAA that not only maintains the authority to hold a terror suspect indefinitely without a trial, but now also includes the little change that that said suspect can be an American citizen.

These are the exact words from the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

How anyone can say that the 2011 provision of the NDAA is not unconstitutional is beyond me. It’s right there: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury. 

The United States has also promised to keep up the treaties established by the Geneva Conventions, of which the third and forth branches talkes about “Grave Breaches” against the treaties. These Grave Breaches include: willfully depriving someone of their right to a fair trial if accused of a war crime, unlawful transfer, confinement and deportation. So not only is the United States breaking the laws of its own constitution, but it is also going against the treaties established by 149 countries during the Geneva Conventions with the passing of this bill.

I really shouldn’t have to say anything else beyond what I have said about this whole thing, but knowing how some people are going to defend this unbelievable infringement of freedom to the day they die, I think I need to say some more things. The main argument people have when defending this bill is the exact same argument that people had about the Patriot Act: “If you’re not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to worry about”. Well, who is to say what is wrong and what is right? I think most people have a pretty basic understanding of what’s right and what’s wrong: Working is right, stealing for a living is wrong. Helping people is right, hurting people is wrong, etc. But what about the more murky subjects, such as protesting? Of course I’m talking about Occupy Wall Street as it is the biggest protesting movement out there. A lot of people seem to think that the OWS movement should not have the right to be out protesting and will do anything to stop it. However, probably an equal amount of people think that what they are doing is excellent and that they should keep the protesting up. In this case, who is to decide what is right or what is wrong? The answer is of course that the people with the power are the ones who decide, and I think most people know what they have decided. With that said, what is to say that an American protester is not all of a sudden considered a terrorist?

There are some horror stories coming from people being detained at OWS camps all over the country, police brutally beating them, hurting them, and then detaining them for the maximum allotted time a person can be detained for with just misdemeanor charges, without any chance of getting out regardless of bail having been posted or not. These stories are so unbelievable that it’s hard to believe that they are not coming from North Korea. Simply reading these stories makes me think that these peaceful OWS protesters are already considered as being terrorists and enemies of the state. What if that actually is the case? What if the government all of a sudden tells the protesters that they will be considered as being terrorists if they show up to protest? Will you still support this act that is already passed by the senate and signed by the president?

All of a sudden the term “I plead the fifth” has a whole other meaning.

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Wow

I know that this post isn’t really in tune with the rest of the posts I have put on this blog so far, but I just have to say… wow. Something real has actually been done in this country. When I first came here, George W. Bush was still in office, no one had faith in the government, no one saw a light in the dark tunnel, but today so much has changed. I was here to witness a historic election of a new president, and today I was here to witness a historic vote on a bill that might change this country forever. Even if it will turn out good or bad, one thing is sure about the passing of the Health Care Reform bill in the House today; Things can actually be done.

Even though I’m not a citizen of the Unites States I do consider this my home now, and I’m very interested in how this country will move forward. I’ve had my ups and downs with Obama, I was rooting for him in the Presidential election, but once he took the office I’ve had my disagreements. I felt what his stance on gay rights has changed, and that he is not as supportive of us and our cause now as he was in his campaign. But he has sort of come around a little bit, not as much as I had hoped, but at least somewhat. During Obama’s campaign, he seemed like the candidate that could make the most changes to this country, and boy… was change needed after eight years of Bush in office. Today it is clear that the message that Obama was running for the presidency on was true, change has come, and change will continue to come.