If You Thought Police Brutality Was Bad … Wait Until You See What Congress Wants to Do Next Week

The police brutality against peaceful protesters in Berkeley, Davis, Oakland and elsewhere is bad enough.

But next week, Congress will vote on explicitly creating a police state.

The ACLU’s Washington legislative office explains:

The Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.

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The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world.

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The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself. The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday.

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I know it sounds incredible. New powers to use the military worldwide, even within the United States? Hasn’t anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too? And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?

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In support of this harmful bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that the bill will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial “American citizen or not.” Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also declared that the bill is needed because “America is part of the battlefield.”

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The senators pushing the indefinite detention proposal have made their goals very clear that they want an okay for a worldwide military battlefield, that even extends to your hometown.

Part of an Ongoing Trend

While this is shocking, it is not occurring in a vacuum. Indeed, it is part of a 30 year-long process of militarization inside our borders and a destruction of the American concepts of limited government and separation of powers.

As I pointed out in May:

The ACLU noted yesterday [that] Congress is proposing handing permanent, world-wide war-making powers to the president – including the ability to make war within the United States:

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As I noted in 2008:

An article in the Army Times reveals that the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team will be redeployed from Iraq to domestic operations within the United States.

The unit will soon be under the day-to-day control of US Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command. The Army Times reports this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to Northern Command. The paper says the Army unit may be called upon to help with “civil unrest” and “crowd control”.

The soldiers are learning to use so-called “nonlethal weapons” designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals and crowds.

This violates posse comitatus and the Constitution. But, hey, we’re in a “national emergency”, so who cares, right?

(We’re still in a declared state of national emergency).

I noted a couple of months later:

Everyone knows that deploying 20,000 troops on U.S. soil violates Posse Comitatus and the Constitution.

And everyone understands that staging troops within the U.S. to “help out with civil unrest and crowd control” increases the danger of overt martial law.

But no one is asking an obvious question: Does the government’s own excuse for deploying the troops make any sense?

Other Encroachments On Civil Rights Under Obama

As bad as Bush was, the truth is that, in many ways, freedom and constitutional rights are under attack even more than during the Bush years.

For example:

Obama has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history — even more so than Nixon.

As Marjorie Cohen – professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild – writes at the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy:

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is facing court-martial for leaking military reports and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, is being held in solitary confinement in Quantico brig in Virginia. Each night, he is forced to strip naked and sleep in a gown made of coarse material. He has been made to stand naked in the morning as other inmates walked by and looked. As journalist Lance Tapley documents in his chapter on torture in the supermax prisons in The United States and Torture, solitary confinement can lead to hallucinations and suicide; it is considered to be torture. Manning’s forced nudity amounts to humiliating and degrading treatment, in violation of U.S. and international law.

Nevertheless, President Barack Obama defended Manning’s treatment, saying, “I’ve actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures . . . are appropriate. They assured me they are.” Obama’s deference is reminiscent of President George W. Bush, who asked “the most senior legal officers in the U.S. government” to review the interrogation techniques. “They assured me they did not constitute torture,” Bush said.

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After State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley criticized Manning’s conditions of confinement, the White House forced him to resign. Crowley had said the restrictions were “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.” It appears that Washington is more intent on sending a message to would-be whistleblowers than on upholding the laws that prohibit torture and abuse.

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Torture is commonplace in countries strongly allied with the United States. Vice President Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s intelligence chief, was the lynchpin for Egyptian torture when the CIA sent prisoners to Egypt in its extraordinary rendition program. A former CIA agent observed, “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear – never to see them again – you send them to Egypt.” In her chapter in The United States and Torture, New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer cites Egypt as the most common destination for suspects rendered by the United States.

As I pointed out in March:

Former constitutional law teacher Glenn Greenwald says that – in his defense of state secrecy, illegal spying, preventative detention, harassment of whistleblowers and other issues of civil liberties – Obama is even worse than Bush.

Indeed, Obama has authorized “targeted assassinations” against U.S. citizens. Even Bush didn’t openly do something so abhorrent to the rule of law.

Obama is trying to expand spying well beyond the Bush administration’s programs. Indeed, the Obama administration is arguing that citizens should never be able to sue the government for illegal spying.

Obama’s indefinite detention policy is an Orwellian nightmare, which will create more terrorists.

Furthermore – as hard as it is for Democrats to believe – the disinformation and propaganda campaigns launched by Bush have only increased under Obama. See this and this.

And as I pointed out last year:

According to Department of Defense training manuals, protest is considered “low-level terrorism”. And see this, this and this.

An FBI memo also labels peace protesters as “terrorists”.

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A 2003 FBI memo describes protesters’ use of videotaping as an “intimidation” technique, even though – as the ACLU points out – “Most mainstream demonstrators often use videotape during protests to document law enforcement activity and, more importantly, deter police from acting outside the law.” The FBI appears to be objecting to the use of cameras to document unlawful behavior by law enforcement itself.

The Internet has been labeled as a breeding ground for terrorists, with anyone who questions the government’s versions of history being especially equated with terrorists.

Government agencies such as FEMA are allegedly teaching that the Founding Fathers should be considered terrorists.

The government is also using anti-terrorism laws to keep people from learning what pollutants are in their own community. See this, this, this and this.

Claims of “national security” are also used to keep basic financial information – such as who got bailout money – secret. That might not bode for particularly warm and friendly treatment for someone persistently demanding the release of such information.

The state of Missouri tried to label as terrorists current Congressman Ron Paul and his supporters, former Congressman Bob Barr, libertarians in general, anyone who holds gold, and a host of other people.

And according to a law school professor and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, pursuant to the Military Commissions Act:

Anyone who … speaks out against the government’s policies could be declared an “unlawful enemy combatant” and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.

Obama has refused to reverse these practices.

There Is Still a Chance to Stop It

The ACLU notes that there is some hope:

But there is a way to stop this dangerous legislation. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is offering the Udall Amendment that will delete the harmful provisions and replace them with a requirement for an orderly Congressional review of detention power. The Udall Amendment will make sure that the bill matches up with American values.

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The solution is the Udall Amendment; a way for the Senate to say no to indefinite detention without charge or trial anywhere in the world where any president decides to use the military. Instead of simply going along with a bill that was drafted in secret and is being jammed through the Senate, the Udall Amendment deletes the provisions and sets up an orderly review of detention power. It tries to take the politics out and put American values back in.

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Now is the time to stop this bad idea. Please urge your senators to vote YES on the Udall Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.

Category: Politics, Really, really bad calls, Think Tank, War/Defense

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

13 Responses to “Congress to Vote on EXPLICITLY Creating a Police State”

  1. Frilton Miedman says:

    This is a way to ensure we don’t have any communists burning down the Reichstag.

  2. Jojo says:

    But next week, Congress will vote on explicitly creating a police state.
    ———
    Consider it done from the rubber stamp Congress.

  3. dougc says:

    I guess this proves you are pro Obama ,like your detractors claim. Seriously I am very disappointed in Obama but would consider voting for him because I thought Republians will get us into an unnecessary war and limit our freedoms, guess I can stay at home.
    The first and only time I voted was to prevent a perceived warmonger (Goldwater) from gaining the whitehouse and we ended up with the real warmonger.

  4. Casual_Observer says:

    Barry, You posted this under your byline but I think this is actually from Washington’s Blog? Think you just forgot the attribution.

  5. Francois says:

    It is worthwhile to know why Obama refused to prosecute torture and war crimes committed under the previous administration, even if the Convention Against Torture is the law of the land by virtue of having been signed (by President Reagan) and ratified by Congress in 1994.

    The one liner? He was scared.

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/09/guest-post-obama-team-feared-revolt-if-he-prosecuted-war-crimes.html

    Once this is accepted, it becomes easy to explain Obama’s decisions regarding the so-called War on Terror and his infinitely accommodating attitude toward the National Security Industrial complex.

  6. rip says:

    @Francois: Awesome.

    She recalled, “He shrugged and said they will never be prosecuted, and that sometimes politics trumps rule of law.”

    Did he really say that? Duh. The right righteous reverend Wright described him as a politician.

    Doesn’t the POTUS take an oath to uphold the Constitution and the Rule of Law?

    Isn’t that grounds for impeachment?

    After all didn’t he supposedly once teach Constitutional law. Can he plead ignorance?

    Will the GOP go after him on this? No.

    Follow the money.

    More to follow.

    If we can’t stomp this bug we are indeed doomed to a fascist police state.

  7. beaufou says:

    This is actually really smart; you see, nasty foreigners hate Americans for their freedom; so by removing freedom, you make them all love you…simple.
    And habeas corpus is overrated anyway.

  8. subscriptionblocker says:

    Obviously you believe there is something to these claims, since you posted them. Very disturbing. This is painful to read.

    Besides raising hell with one’s representatives, there is probably one other action most of us should take:

    Secure your communications…..

    http://retroshare.sourceforge.net/

    The portable version seems less buggy, and can be secured by this:

    http://www.amazon.com/IronKey-D20803-Ironkey-Basic-Flash/dp/B0014KUOR4

    Why? Protects even with short keywords. Hit it 10 times with the wrong password – it fries itself.

    Reliance on *any* external servers is a risk, but these kids did a reasonable job protecting you. Their server never touches the session keys:

    http://www.vsee.com

    New version seems to work well even when used in an audio only fashion. Bit easier to setup than zfone.

    http://www.zfone.com

    Wish there was something better – but not yet.

    Skype users need to read between the lines:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/06/27/1553216/microsoft-may-add-eavesdroppi

  9. theexpertisin says:

    Are we preparing for a huge internal revolt when the economy implodes, sooner rather than later?

    And, will just enough officers in the military throw in the towel and question why their Commander In Chief expects them to do his created dirty work? Then, who defends the morass inside the beltway?

    No one I know.

  10. Mira Res says:

    https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/s1867

    See section 1032, pages 359 thru 362

    exempts US citizens and only applies to those explicitly defined as members of al-Qaeda and those who attack the United States.

  11. Frilton Miedman says:

    rip Says:
    November 28th, 2011 at 11:38 am
    ” Doesn’t the POTUS take an oath to uphold the Constitution and the Rule of Law?

    Isn’t that grounds for impeachment? ”

    ********

    Indeed a possibility, but let’s not stop there.

    According to the “Powers of Congress”, the bulk of the GOP is in violation for signing a pledge that specifically inhibits their duties as officers of the United States….the mere act of agreeing to any pledge or oath aside that of their Constitutional oath is, in fact, an act of treason … and where Oliver Norquist has threatened to use the monetary resources at his disposal to make, or break, the careers of those who do and do not comply, it’s also bribery.

    For that matter, Oliver Norquists stated goal to “Cut the U.S. government down to size, enough to drown in the bath tub”, could be construed as an act of insurrection….a plot to over-throw the U.S. government.

    Then, in the Constitution

    ARTICLE II – SECTION 4

    Section 4 – Disqualification

    The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

    Bribery, listed as a “high crime” in our Constitution, the act of taking money in exchange for preferential treatment, legislation or law making is an impeachable offense, Obama looks like a pea shootin’ brat when you compile the bigger picture.

  12. Frilton Miedman says:

    The point of my post, where it’s gotten to the point that every piece of legislation that passes through the House and Senate is at the behest of bribers, who stands to gain in this bill?

    Is blackwater looking for more government contracts on American soil?…Is Dave Koch looking to enable his political puppets with the ability to detain anyone he perceives to be a threat to his takeover of the United states?

    Is this a roundabout way for corporate executives to manipulate the U.S. government to apprehend perceived threats to profits, or disagreeable political views with no prerequisite charges or reasons?

    This is why I mentioned the burning of the Reichstag building, for those who don’t know history, this was how Hitler was able to manipulate control of Germany’s Democracy and enact Marshall law by using public fear and contempt of Communism.

  13. Francois says:

    @Mira Res:

    “exempts US citizens and only applies to those explicitly defined as members of al-Qaeda and those who attack the United States.”

    You do realize how fungible the definitions of an “al-Qaeda member” and “those who attack the United States” can be now, don’t you?

    Spell Julian Assange for starter. Try Thomas Drake while you’re at it.
    Think Brandon Mayfield and would have happened to this guy if the Spanish Secret Service hadn’t been involved.

    Politicians and lawmakers can write whatever the hell they want: As long as they don’t specifically define what they mean, assume the very worst…or become a serf instead of a citizen.