S. 1867: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

I’ve spent some time considering the implications of the National Defense Authorization Act.  We know we have to fund the military, we know we’re gonna fund the military and because no one wants to look like they don’t support the military we get all kinds of nonsense added into these bills.

This time though, that nonsense isn’t really nonsense.  It’s really bad news.

The bill also contains several detainee provisions that civil liberties groups and human rights advocates have strongly opposed, arguing that they would allow the military greater authority to detain and interrogate U.S. citizens and non-citizens and deny them legal rights protected by the Constitution.

In short, the bill now law allows the military to detain American citizens indefinitely in the simple suspicion they may be terrorists.

I don’t care WHAT they are suspected of, the unlimited detention by our government for any reason is beyond the pale.  And is, quite simply, the most radical change to our foundation that we may have ever seen.

I haven’t taken the opportunity to wrote about this.  I’m torn.  On the one hand I am massively biased against the Democrats in the Senate and the President in the White House.  I want to make sure, NEED to make sure, that I was disagreeing for the right reasons on this one.

And I couldn’t be sure.

Until I remember one of my most earliest blog writings on a blog now defunct in 2008:

I think that too much has been made of the facts that the folks down in Guantanamo are being granted rights that are guaranteed under The Constitution.  That somehow giving these guys the rights to question their detention is something that is unique to America.  With very little work, it can be seen that these rights began to be articulated long long ago, in fact, according to Wiki, we begin to see them form in 1305.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habeas_corpus

As such, the fact that our Supreme Court has extended the rights as such should not be so controversial.  In fact, the idea that they should NOT be afforded the rights would be much more newsworthy.  The problem many of us have, however, is the official designation of the detainees.

I have always felt that participants in the War OF Terror (read: The Terrorists) are NOT soldiers.  They are not members of a regular and lawful Military Organization.  They do not meet the wherefores and the how to bes of the Geneva Convention.  That is, they are NOT Prisoners of War.  Rather, they are simply foreign nationals found to be conducting illegal activities.  Activities against the USA or, perhaps, against civilization.  Because they are not soldiers, that is protected under the Geneva Convention, they can not be held until the end of the conflict, or in this case, the war.  Similarly, we are under no obligation to treat them in accordance or in the spirit of the Convention either.

But, because they are not Prisoners of War, they are criminals.  Or, more specifically, potential criminals.  That is, detainees who will at some point be read their charges and tried in come form of court of law.  That seems straight forward.  If they are bad guys, and we know this to be true, then charge, try and if applicable, jail them.  If we have no evidence, then we should release them.  Period.

In all of this, however, I find no compulsion to afford them the rights of American criminals in our American judicial system.  It would, in my mind, be just fine to charge, try and if guilty, punish these guys in a military tribunal.  Or something.  Or, like, anything.

But, in the end, we can not just hold these guys forever.

I disagreed with this concept back when Republicans were in office.  I disagree with it now and am finally able, guilt free, to say

“Shame on ALL persons who voted for or signed this bill to make it law.”

At least now I can say that even Democrats are tribal too.

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