A public letter to the US Government upon the passing of NDAA

By Phil Plait | December 19, 2011 7:00 am

The United States House of Representatives and the Senate both passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This Act lays out the budget and expenditures of the US Department of Defense, but also has provisions for its authority. Since it defines the DoD budget, a version of it passes every year, but this year, the NDAA includes provisions that codify the ability of the President to basically snatch people off the streets inside our own country, and hold them indefinitely in detention without trial or hearing, and torture them. While some are saying that this ability already exists for the President, it is being codified into law by this Act.

Lest you think I am being reactionary, there is a vast outcry against these provisions, which includes the voices of the Defense Secretary, the Director of National Intelligence, the Directors of the FBI and CIA (!!), and the White House Advisor for Counterterrorism — all of whom spoke out that these indefinite detention provisions are bad for the country. The ACLU, which is all about defending civil rights, is strongly opposed to this. Even President Obama had threatened to veto the Act if these provisions were left in.

Yet despite this, Congress passed these terrible, terrible provisions, and now President Obama has rescinded his veto threat; most people seem to think he will sign this into law.

Both of my Senators voted to pass this legislation… one of whom, Mark Udall, actually tried to get an amendment into the bill to strip out the language about indefinite detention. It was voted down, in case you were unsure what Congress actually wanted from this bill. What boggles my mind is that even with his amendment shamefully voted down, in the end Senator Udall still voted for this Act. Did yours?

For what it’s worth, my Representative, Jared Polis, voted no. Did yours? Al Franken wrote an excellent essay on why he voted no as well.

I admit here I did something foolish. Because Senator Udall so clearly was against this horrifying provision, I thought he would vote against it. I also took President Obama at his word that he would veto the Act if those provisions weren’t stripped out. I should have written letters and made phone calls to both my Senators and the President, but instead I took no action, and now I’m worried it’s too late to stop this (though I urge everyone to write the White House and express their opinion).

However, I did send notes to my Senators. Here is the text, verbatim.

Senator-

I voted for you in the last election, hoping that you would add your voice against the growing fear-mongering and radical far-right movement that I think is plunging our country in the wrong direction.

However, put simply, your “Aye” vote on NDAA means I will not be voting for you in the next election cycle. The horrid provisions for indefinite detention and torture in this piece of legislature are what I might expect from the 1950s era Soviet Union, but not in our country, not today. This blatant codification of the violation of citizens’ rights by Senators and Representatives – men and women who swore to uphold the Constitution – is galling and disgusting.

You, sir, have lost my vote.

For Senator Udall, I added this before the last line: "I understand you tried to have an amendment placed into NDAA to reverse those provisions, and I appreciate that. But after it was voted down, leaving indefinite detention and torture in the Act, you still voted for it."

I’m very angry about this. And you know what upsets me the most? I was worried about writing this post. I was concerned that in the United States of America, a nation of laws founded upon a Constitution guaranteeing my rights, that I might go on some sort of watch list somewhere.

And it is for that very reason I posted this article. I refuse to live in fear of my own government. We cannot fear them. But they must respect us, because our government is of the people, by the people, for the people. And we are the people.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (173)

  1. Chris

    Phil, it’s been a pleasure knowing you. We will miss you.

  2. One more reason to love living in Canada.

  3. jason

    Phil I disagree with you on a great many things both politically and philosophically, but agree that the NDAA contains provisions that undermine the very freedoms codified by our constitution, the highest law of the land. We have a government that no longer sees itself a limited and a population that for the most part does not care. We MUST work to support, and vote for candidates who truly believe in limited government and the restrictions placed upon it by the constitution. Remember, the constitution does not grant the people rights, We have those rights by virtue of being human. The constitution limits the ability of government to infringe on those basic rights.

  4. You trusted a politician?

    And you call yourself a skeptic?

  5. Phil, I’ve heard these claims about this bill being circulated around the internet, and like a good skeptic, I’ve tried to follow up on them to see if the claims were true or just widely believed. One crucial thing every story about this, including yours, neglected to include is a reference to the parts of the document that contain this threatening language.

    The bill has over 5,000 sections, so it’s not a trivial task for the lay reader to go through all of it to verify that it does threaten our rights. However, if you are going to go public and accuse our leaders of attacking our human rights, you could at least tell us how to verify this extraordinary claim. If we had the section numbers that contain what you claim they do, we could easily verify it for ourselves and not just have to trust the authority of other people who probably haven’t even read those parts of the bill before spreading the fear.

    I believe that the bill could say what you claim, I wouldn’t put it past our government, but why believe when I could easily verify it with a simple reference?

    Thanks, Phil.

  6. holy crap, BOTH my democratic senators (NY) voted for this??

  7. charles222

    Have any of you actually read the sections of the law in question (1031 and 1032)? They specifically state that American citizens are exempt.

    And if that doesn’t encourage you, Sen. Feinstein is introducing a bill to clarify that Americans are exempt from military detention.

  8. IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE

    And it is for that very reason I posted this article. I refuse to live in fear of my own government. We cannot fear them. But they must respect us, because our government is of the people, by the people, for the people. And we are the people.

    We Are The Borg…

  9. Georg

    For me as a foreigner,
    please explain who (and to wich end) wanted to have this “law”?
    Incredible
    Georg

  10. Gee Phil, there’s a slight problem with your rant. The NDAA as passed does not say that at all. It does not allow people to be “snatched off the street in this country.” What it does is to allow the current detention capability – which has been in effect for quite some time – to remain in place, while placing additional protections for American citizens and those legally here. http://pleasecutthecrap.typepad.com/main/2011/12/indefinitedetentionbs.html

  11. Eric Mac

    TheOncomingStorm, you’re kidding, right?

  12. Daffy

    Once again we find that, whatever his words, in actions Obama is nothing more than George W. Bush Jr. He should veto this horrible, anti-American bill. But he won’t.

    Does anyone seriously think this it is a coincidence that this bill passed on the heels of the Occupy movement? Our own Dear Leaders are running scared.

  13. John B

    It’s pretty disingenuous to characterize all those administration voices as opposing the bill in spirit rather than in technical detail. The Obama Administration’s major complaint was that now they can’t shuffle people back and forth between civil/military (and avoid judicial decisions by moving people to civil holdings before lawsuits can be resolved). It’s not the presence of indefinite detention.

    I’m not super clear on why anyone thinks his not vetoing constitutes some failure of priorities, beyond the ever present delusion that Dem/Rep’s are in some way different on civil liberty issues.

  14. Johnlt

    Both of my senators vote for it, but one is a brainless former cheerleader from Texas and you have seen two examples in national politics now, the other is just brain dead.

  15. Pepijn

    @charles222:

    Have any of you actually read the sections of the law in question (1031 and 1032)? They specifically state that American citizens are exempt.

    And that makes it perfectly alright? Non-Americans don’t deserve human rights?

  16. James

    @Georg – Almost all of them. Senate was passed 93-7. House 283 – 136.
    We have elected a bunch of statists and authoritarians. . PATRIOT ACT, NDAA, SOPA. . .

  17. Michael

    One particularly horrible detail that you missed is that Obama didn’t threaten to veto it because of disturbing civil rights violations but… because Congress has limited oversight regarding who is being detained. “Any bill that challenges or constrains the President’s critical authorities to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the Nation would prompt the President’s senior advisers to recommend a veto,”

  18. RL

    My understanding is that Obama threatened a veto over Congress mandating military trials not civilian trials for terrorists NOT the part of the law you are objecting to. Everything I read said that Obamas admin insisted on covering US citizens. I would be interested to see text of Obamas objections to covering US citizens.

  19. Mack

    So what’s really changed is that it is now a law, correct? This is dated March 13, 2009. Obama veto? LOL
    http://www.justice.gov/opa/documents/memo-re-det-auth.pdf

  20. Bolo

    @charles222:

    I don’t think that’s true. My understanding is that section 1021 does not apply to citizens and has language specifying this, but that 1022 is worded in such a general way that US citizens are included. Granted, I’m just going by what I’ve learned here: http://www.salon.com/2011/12/16/three_myths_about_the_detention_bill/singleton/

    I also understand that Obama threatened to veto the bill not because he thought the power to detain people without their rights was bad, but because he thought he already had the power and did not want Congress circumscribing his authority on this. The amendment added to the bill which ultimately got Obama’s approval stated that the President may decide to issue a waiver to move a detainee into the civil justice system rather than keep them in the military system. This is what changed his mind–because it preserves the President’s authority to decide in this matter. His veto threat was over the bill reducing his authority, not due to an objection to the content of the bill itself.

    At least, that’s my reading of it.

  21. Abbie

    oops, I was going to say the exact same thing Bolo said, and provide the exact same link. Should have hit refresh.

    This is a travesty. Obama was supposed to roll back the Bush-era over-reaching… not CODIFY IT INTO LAW. (Or, that what I was deluded into thinking Obama was supposed to do.)

  22. Andy

    Anyone still thinking Obama is any sort of “progressive” and not just another example of “more of the same” in Dec. 2011 has either just awoken from a coma or is delusional. Or both, I guess.

  23. Renee

    It has been downhill for a long time now. Ever since 9/11, maybe before. I do not understand why most people go along with this. Heck, most conservatives that I know cheer this stuff.

    I fear for our country and I fear for our lives under the combined corporate and party dictatorship taking form. The only thing that the Republicans and Democrats can seem to agree on is that the Constitution is a terrible burden that must be overcome.

  24. truthspeaker

    Norbrook Says:
    December 19th, 2011 at 7:55 am

    What it does is to allow the current detention capability – which has been in effect for quite some time – to remain in place,

    That’s the problem. The current detention capability needs to be repealed, not strengthened.

  25. I had become complacently comfortable that President Obama would use his veto to stop this nonsense. Then I read your statement and got a jolt. He isn’t going to use his veto? There is so much hyperbole about at the moment from the financial and economic crisis to Europe getting into a froth, but no hyperbole can overstate how dramatic a change this makes to America. Even if Mr Obama loses his job over it he must stop this insanity. Legislators seem to think that because a country has stable (in the broad sense) government it will always be so. If this passes and the wrong person wins the big seat all manner of catastrophic nuttiness will ensue. Is Europe 1939-1945 not a well documented enough warning?

  26. LordBlessedB

    @pepijn
    NOW u r catching on! And,to clarify. No, Illegals do not deserve human rights.

  27. anonymous

    I’m a citizen of a EU country which is a member of NATO, ally to the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have no visa requirements to visit the US since a few years ago. And yet the US wouldn’t grant me even the most basic rights when coming over for a visit (or strip them if it decides to do so, if you do not like my interpretation). And I’m not even a terrorist, not that any of this should matter!

    When I was growing up and we were fighting for independence from the Soviet Union only 2 decades ago the US was considered the land of the free. The US was an example, something people had dreamt of during the occupation.

    Nowadays if I talked about the US as the land of the free I’d be laughed at. The US has become a joke, a sad sad joke.

    Some are saying this law does not apply to US citizens. Well, not yet. And I can’t really see the point, a human is a human. The colour of a passport is just that, a meaningless colour.

  28. Jane Doe

    We are worried about this bill, but has anyone looked at how court decisions, which are precedent setting, have affected our due process? Laws have been legislated from the bench, and they are unpublished. I know of a case in which felonies were tacked on at the sentencing phase, never went to the jury, the Judge just added them. It was bragged about to congress as the first test case in America. Instead of 2-3 years, the defendant got 13, and so far it has killed two people in the process, through stress, another person has been given 3-6 months to live. All compliments of Big Pharma.

    There are so many cases on the books that were created from the bench, and never even saw congress. The cases have the same power as a law. When an attempt is made to appeal the defendant is directed to the original Judge who made the original case decision.
    Legislating from the bench I think is just as outrageous as the civil rights violations of the NDAA.

    The Constitution is the law of the land.

  29. David

    They told me if I voted for John McCain, they’d be passing a law that would allow the President to snatch people off the streets–AND THEY WERE RIGHT!

    So–to all of the Obama fans–are you going to vote for someone else (“You, sir, have lost my vote”) or are you going to sit this one out?

  30. RL

    My hope is that at some point the Supreme Court will enforce the Bill of Rights. The Obama and Bush administrations played games to make sure the Supreme Court wouldn’t get a clear cut case to rule on. If this power is used, hopefully it will. Will take a while though.

  31. patrick

    I think you linked a previous vote for this bill. The last house vote was http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll932.xml.

    Good write up though. My rep voted No but I’m very disappointed in our CO Senators.

  32. martiniconqueso

    Those claiming us citizens are exempt need to read more closely. The exemption in question is for the *requirement* that suspected terrorists be detained by the military, not for the ability of the military to do so. US citizens are still subject to the provisions for indefinite detention.

  33. brian

    “Even President Obama had threatened to veto the Act if these provisions were left in.” – WRONG. The Administration is the one that requested the language to INCLUDE American Citizens.

  34. All systems, be they math, computer science, science, R&D, Learning, Government, Finance, etc., require a feedback loop for verification. Even a guided Missile needs a feedback loop to hit its target. Remove the feedback loop and you become lost and in this case, skerd.

    It has become clear and getting clearer the US government has both broken and ignored the founders, of the United States, intended feedback loop of “For the People, by the People”

    As such they have become very skerd and as such in their effort to find security for themselves (noting that they do not follow the same rules they impose upon the rest of us) they have fabricated laws contradicting the founders documents (Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights). These contradictions are in violation of the founders design. Many would say they are acts of “treason” and they are in that they break and ignore the intended feedback loop. Many of our representatives have shown by their actions they do not know or fully understand the contents of these founder documents.

    However and regardless, the current efforts to sacrifice our liberties, are freedom in exchange for their personal security will fail. Its simply not possible to find security in that which is without a proper feedback loop and the evidence of the the failure is the pursuit of what they think is their eroding of the founder documents. Only it is not the documents, the integrated ideas expressed in them, which are eroding, but the governments validity eroding due lack of a valid and founder intended feedback loop.

    There is one place these fearful can find security, and that is as inmates of a FEMA detention camp, where the public cannot so easily reach them and won’t have need to.

    The Founder Documents stand, it is the recent and current government that is falling. It is their own fault, of their own makings.

  35. Elaine

    To those of you who are saying that this bill does not apply to U.S. citizens, please read the following article. The bill states that the REQUIREMENT to detain a person indefinitely does not extend to U.S. citizens, not that U.S. citizens are exempt. http://www.salon.com/2011/12/16/three_myths_about_the_detention_bill/

  36. Brad

    I called the office of one of my senators about this and ended up in touch with the staffer who handled the issue for him. He told me what others have said here, that the act specifically exempts U.S. citizens from the possibility of indefinite detention.

    There’s another issue here, though, which is just as disturbing: We have had a long tradition of NOT allowing the military to operate on U.S. soil. This act specifically allows the military to do this, and I think that’s a dangerous, dangerous step to take.

  37. @ Chalres 222: Please do not believe Senator Feinstein has anything but her own interests in mind. That political whore will say anything and do anything to ensure she stays right where she is. She has supported every move to add to the government’s power, and as a ranking member on the Senate Intel committee, she was a crucial player in enabling the Bush/Cheney regime to wage their illegal war on Iraq. I’ve voted against this crook since she first ran for reelection, and will continue to do so every chance I get.

  38. llewelly

    Obama’s DOJ has been defending positions essentially similar to this bill in court since the day he took office. If you are surprised at Obama rescinding his veto threat, you have not been paying attention.

    As for the clause excepting Americans from military detention – I suppose that’s great news for nativists who believe the protections of law ought to depend on geographical happenstance, but the rest of us ought to know better.

  39. antiavenger

    @techskeptic I KNOW!!! I’m from NY too and I’m pissed about this. Even my representative voted for this junk (Bill Owens – D). He’s on weak ground from my understanding so this won’t help.

    I wish Obama would use his veto and actually stand up for once but I doubt that’s going to happen.

  40. Jason Beardsley

    Mind if I use that same text to send to my Representative and Senators?

  41. scgvlmike

    @#5, David Musick and @#10, Norbrook: Please read the article at http://www.salon.com/2011/12/16/three_myths_about_the_detention_bill/.

    This article will answer your questions, and also demonstrates that the bill explicitly calls for the indefinite detention of American citizens under some cases; the fact that it’s not -required- by this bill doesn’t mean it’s not -available- under this bill.

    I miss the Constitution.

  42. Joe

    Phil, it’s getting to the point where I almost never agree with you when you bring up politics. On this, however, you couldn’t be more correct. Thank you for writing to your Senators, and having the integrity to stand by your values.

    Also, 27 llewelly, you’re absolutely correct. People who act surprised by Obama’s position haven’t been paying attention. We’ve been saying these things about him since day one.

  43. Other Paul

    @Norbrook:

    It does not allow people to be “snatched off the street in this country.” What it does is to allow the current detention capability – which has been in effect for quite some time – to remain in place, while placing additional protections for American citizens and those legally here.

    So what you’re saying is, in other words, that it allows people to be snatched off the street in this country.? Interesting way of handling a conversation.

    I bet you’re glad I’ll not be visiting your country any time soon. Not that it does me much good. Our government is quite happy for your guys to come to our country and snatch people off our streets here too. As one of your fictional Iowans says – I. Have had. Enough. Of you..

    The pity of it is that I generally admire your country and your citizens. But your congress sucks. Totally sucks.

  44. Gary Ansorge

    25. martiniconqueso

    The “requirement” proviso is a red herring. It just gives the Pres carte blanche to decide who he wants to prosecute and in what court.

    Essentially, you’ve hit the nail squarely,,,

    In the mid 1950s, a social/economic historian wrote a book called “The Last Frontier”, which had nothing to do with space. It analyzed the fall of the old European feudal societies as a condition where the talented people(craftsmen, engineers, etc) left Europe behind and high tailed it to the Americas. Without these people to support their infrastructure, the feudal system just collapsed.The authors contention was that the American frontier facilitated that collapse but that the “frontier” had ended by the early 1920s. What we’re seeing now is a resurgence of the feudal mentality. Unfortunately, there’s no where for our talented folk to run to these days.

    ,,,unless some genius in a garage figures out how to leave this sorry old planet behind w/o help from the feudalists.

    Gary 7

  45. Stevie Miller

    In the wake of this terrible assault on our Constitutional rights, it is clear that the two-party system has failed us. When the Republicans and Democrats make private bargains for our freedoms, the voters are left without any recourse. In my opinion, the only thing left for us to do is to support third parties, in order to give the voters true choice once more. I sincerely hope that everyone who is as appalled by this bill as the author is will withdraw their support from the two parties in power and give it to third parties.

  46. David

    Hmmm . . . previous attempt was apparently booted off. So I’ll try again:

    They told me if I voted for John McCain, they’d be passing a law allowing the President to snatch people off the streets. AND THEY WERE RIGHT!

    So, now, all of you Obama fans–will you be voting for someone else (“You, sir have lost my vote”) or sitting this one out?

  47. ragnar

    I’m a little disappointed (again) in Phil’s right-bashing, when in the real world leftists do the same things he accuses the right of. For example, he compares the section of the bill in question to something the Soviet Union would have done; wasn’t the Soviet Union the leftist paradise?

    Reality check, Phil. The lefties you worship voted for the bill too.

    And yes, that section of the bill is horrible. President Obama, if he really believed in anything beyond his own nose, should veto the bill and force Congress to do it again. That he doesn’t speaks volumes.

  48. Sarah Barrentine

    What would Patrick Henry say? http://libertyonline.hypermall.com/henry-liberty.html

    “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

    Stand proud, Phil Plait. Many of us are standing with you.

  49. For those of you complaining about not being able to read the whole bill, check out the ACLU’s write up. They do a nice job of pointing to the line and verse, and they present counters for several common false claims.
    ~Will

  50. Gary Ansorge

    31. ragnar

    Far right OR far left are both loonies. Phil is pretty much a middle of the road, rational materialist.

    In an era when unrestrained capitalism has been shown to be unresponsive to social responsibility, a reversion to a communalist society might be all for the good, or, in other words, “From each according to their ability. TO each according to their need.”

    Communism, as practiced by the Russians, was just another name for dictatorship,,,

    Gary 7

  51. Jim Howard

    Phil,

    You consistently support politicians who sincerely believe that the answer to every problem is to increase the power of the government.

    Politicians who openly state that individuals can’t be trusted to run their own affairs.

    Politicians who state that because the government builds a road it owns all the people who use the road and all the property around the road belong to the government.

    Then you wonder why these self-same ‘far right’ politicians have no trouble voting unlimited power to the government?

    Phil, you’ve been voting for Frankenstein government for your whole adult life. And you wonder how Frankenstein got to be so scary?

    You need to try and think rationally before you vote.

  52. Randy A.

    Read the actual bill. I did, and it gave me a headache.

    First, it’s long. Even section 1031, the bad section, is several pages. Second, it’s written in lawyer-ese, not English.

    But the content is just as Phil said. It authorizes indefinite detention of anybody, as long as the government claims they are a terrorist. Because the “terrorists” are held without trial, they can’t have a day in court to prove that they aren’t terrorists!

    I wrote to President Obama and my senators. I said, in part: “We will will win the war on terror by being better than they are, not by sinking down to their level.”

    Happy holidays everyone!

  53. Randy A.

    By the way, Jim Howard, there is a difference between “increasing the power of government,” and empowering the government to increase the power of the people.

    It’s sometimes a fine line, but there IS a difference.

  54. Sam H

    All I can say at this time is this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n631x7FWlcc

    THE TIME HAS COME. BREAK OUT THE GUY FAWKES MASKS.

    (more serious discourse will come later – and as bad as this is I can’t wait to see what Anonymous is gonna do in response :))

  55. Elmar_M

    Thanks for posting this, Phil!
    Well some of the posts here demonstrate how well those in charge are playing their cards, trying to confuse people to put them into a feeling of false security. Look what some of the actual representatives have to say about it (and Fox news for once is actually doing a good job at covering this, odd).

    Here is democrat McDermott:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRKLstWVXCo&feature=youtu.be
    and here Republican Rand Paul…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD1T61oTrR8

    Oh and the betrayal goes even further than that. In preparation of the passing of the passage S.1867 and probably also in response (punishment?) to the critizism from FBI leadership, they have “reassigned” those FBI agents at the department of civil rights that were concerned with complaints against the DHS and the TSA have been “reassigned to new duties”… These matters are now handled by the DHS directly.
    The news media is (of course) completely silent about this, but I know from one of the concerned FBI- agents that I personally know. So this is true. The FBI is resisting this bill big time, btw, so is the Pentagon.

  56. Jon Deane

    I think it’s interesting that few people are mentioning how this bill just codifies what the government is already been doing for a decade. In fact, the reason why Obama wanted to veto the bill was not because it’s un-American but because the codification included something called “congressional oversight”. While the bill officially gives the president a lot of power, in reality it takes some away.

    Please note that I don’t support the bill, I’m just pointing out the elephant in the room that only Dan Carlin (see Common Sense podcast) is talking about.

  57. Other Paul

    Do I hear, from the beyond, the sound of Bin-Laden cackling ‘excellent’ with tented hands?

    Probably not. I don’t believe in that afterlife stuff. But there are many still living who’ll doubtless be equally pleased.

  58. Cheyenne

    @Gary – It was the “far right” and the “far left” of the congress that voted against this. Coburn, DeMint, Risch – against. Sanders, Merkley, Franken – against.

    Everybody in the middle of the road voted for it. And that was a complete non-shocker.

    I love outcomes like this. This is what can increase the power of the independent vote eventually– particularly the libertarian minded ones.

  59. “An evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland. ” — Adolf Hitler.

  60. Elmar_M

    Here is the list of those that voted against:
    Sen. Rand Paul [R, KY]
    Sen. Jeff Merkley [D, OR]
    Sen. Ron Wyden [D, OR]
    Sen. Mike Lee [R, UT]
    Sen. Thomas Harkin [D, IA]
    Sen. Thomas Coburn [R, OK]
    Sen. Bernard Sanders [I, VT]

    could not be more even between reps and dems.

  61. John B

    @ Cheyenne

    Exactly.

    For all the posturing people do about “partisanship” most of the truly wretched government actions come from people in the center. And why not? There’s nothing sacred (or particularly “rational”) in the middle ground between two extreme positions. At the least “extreme” people are consistent.

    As a libertarian, give me a socialist (and, note, Sanders voted “no”) over a “pragmatist” any day.

  62. Scott B

    It’s cute that you still think writing to your politicians even matters. They vote for whatever their lobbyists want and whatever will make a good soundbite in an ad. That way, they keep the money coming in to pay for the ads that easily manipulate the voting public. Also, in this case, they couldn’t vote against it or veto it because next election someone would make an ad saying how they didn’t support our troops.

    Unless you can find a way to make the majority of citizens actually care about and take ownership of their government, the only solution is to significantly reduce the power of the Federal government and place most of the power at the state and even more local levels. I don’t like it. There are things government can do better as a collective. People simply are not competent enough to manage a powerful federal government via democratic means.

  63. Cheyenne

    @Elmar – There were 13 Nays. Your list is short. Also Moran (R) abstained.

  64. DrFlimmer

    So, even more reason to NOT visit the US.

    Something to think about: THIS is terrorism!

  65. Joey Tomm

    Dont you jsut love our bought and paid for Government? Amazing.

    http://www.total-anon.tk

  66. davem

    Kin Jong Il is dead. Long live President Obama!

  67. Grisha

    I am curious to see Phil’s reply to this excellent chat. Looking at the data, it should be clear The “far left” and the “far right” are arm in arm AGAINST this insanity and always have been. It should be obvious that terms like “left” and “right” don’t properly capture what is going on here. This is bill was supported and voted for by representatives of the great center. It’s actually a classic “reach across the aisle”, an easy populist move that makes centrists feel safe in the herd. When Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Newt Gingrich, Boehner and Pelosi are all for something, doesn’t it give one pause? And doesn’t it make your skeptic sense tingle? When Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders all agree on something, the great MIDDLE needs to wake to up out of its comfortable sleepwalking and pay attention. Phil, characterizing this nonsense as a product of the far right is misleading. Its a product of the scared center and an easy political win for everyone who bets their political fortune on courting that center. In reality the only people opposing this are on the edges – by definition libertarians (both the “left and “right” variety). The Center is who we should be afraid of. The things “everybody agrees on” are often the most horrible.

  68. A horrible bill, but unsurprising. Does it really shock anyone that their Senators voted for this? Did people think their Senators wouldn’t want this power, that they were somehow good, honest folk that cared about the rights of their constituents?

    This is why I always rant that skepticism should be applied to everypart of you life, not just to religion, ateranative medicine, and Bigfoot as so many who call themselves skeptic seem to. It will prevent you from being shocked by things like this that should have been obvious.

    The list of who voted how is fascinating. Six from each side voting against is interesting, as is the the fact that the only two states to have both Senators vote against are one of the most conservative and one of the most liberal states.

    As for Obama’s supposed threat to veto, is there anyone here that really thinks that he would veto something that increased his power? Would any President?

    Finally, despite our host’s claims, a quick read of the relevant section shows no mention of torture at all. Pretty sure that would still be illegal, and that this bill gives the President no such power.

  69. Elmar_M

    Ok, it seems that there are two different lists floating arround the interwebs.
    Here is the other one that states the 13:

    Dick Durbin (D-Ill.),
    Ben Cardin (D-Md.),
    Al Franken (D-Minn.),
    Tom Harkin (D-Iowa),
    Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.),
    Ron Wyden (D-Ore.),
    Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.),
    Jim Risch (R-Idaho),
    Rand Paul (R-Ky.),
    Mike Lee (R-Utah),
    Jim DeMint (R-S.C.),
    Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and
    Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

  70. THIS.
    Thank you, Phil! Thank you for pointing this out. I admit I was totally unaware of this. I had stuff on my mind that was a lot closer to home. Gah. I don’t even have the effing words.

    And somehow, to me, the fact that this was inserted into an act that serves to define a budget is doubly horrifying. Whoever is pushing this clause, they couldn’t come out and define it in a separate bill, no, they had to try and hide it in legislation that would typically be passed without much press. That alone should be a huge red flag.
    And where are all the congresscritters who were wringing their hands over how “Obamacare” was “more Big Government intrusion into your freedoms”??

    @68 Vince: A horrible bill, but unsurprising. Does it really shock anyone that their Senators voted for this? Did people think their Senators wouldn’t want this power, that they were somehow good, honest folk that cared about the rights of their constituents?

    Me. It shocks me. Perhaps I’m naive, perhaps I don’t understand realpolitik, but doesn’t this law only apply to the President, or at best the Executive branch? It doesn’t sound like it gives Reps or Senators any additional power. So why are they backing it?

  71. VinceRN

    Oh, some more…

    @ David Musick – Section 1031 and 1032, easy to find, even Wikipedia has them.

    @charles222 – Section 1031 does not exclude American citizens, section 1032 says only that American citizens are not required to be held by the military, it does not exclude them from “without trial, until the end of hostilities.” or even from transfer to “any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.”

  72. @29 David: So–to all of the Obama fans–are you going to vote for someone else (“You, sir, have lost my vote”) or are you going to sit this one out?

    It’s kind of a no-win situation. The Republican candidates probably would have done the same thing, given all the support from the Rs in Congress. And given the way that politicians historically walk all over their campaign promises, we really can’t seem to trust any candidate from either party who claims he/she would have opposed the bill. So we’re really just forced to vote on other issues.

  73. Scott B

    @70. Joseph G You already said why they backed it. Because it was hidden in a bill to authorize defense spending. If they vote against it, they give their next opponent the ammo to make an ad saying that they don’t support our troops.

  74. Adam morgan

    Phil, I’m very disappointed here. You are usually so thorough. A simple reading of sections 1031 and 1032 of the bill show that U.S. citizens are exempt, even if they did support or participate in terrorist plots against the U.S. The bill has NEVER allowed the President to just snatch people off the street. It only applies to non-U.S. citizens. Period. U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the United States and would undergo normal court proceedings under the NDAA. The President threatened to veto unless the language allowing the military to perform policing duties on U.S. soil were removed. Congress removed them. So the two big concerns everyone has about this are completely unfounded. This bill was never a danger and it was blown massively out of proportion by the ACLU using appeals to emotion very effectively.

    Here is a link to the actual language as passed: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c112:2:./temp/~c1120jwm6k:e551744:
    Paragraph (b) clearly states that the military custody does not apply to U.S. citizens, therefore they would be held under normal civil custody under the laws and rules governing that. Trial, bail, etc. Indefinite is not even mentioned in either section.

  75. Stargazer

    It’s getting more and more difficult for your country to preach about democracy, freedom and human rights to other countries. I expect to never hear anything about that again.

  76. James Kindler

    As a part of occupy Pittsburgh this bill is of concern, however I refuse to live in fear of what used to be our government.

  77. @73 Scott B: Ohh… And the President doesn’t have a line-item veto, so if he vetoes the bill, the budget (and by extension the work of those in businesses relying on Federal contracts) has to get put on hold for a few months. If he uses the veto, he’s responsible for hurting the economic recovery and causing tens of thousands of people to lose their jobs.

    Just friggin’ wonderful.

  78. @74 Adam: The one paragraph specifically excludes protections for US citizens captured outside the US. Presumably that means that if you take a day trip into Canada, they can nab you at the border before you re-enter the States.
    And yes, the word “indefinite” is not used, per se. But what exactly does “without trial until the end of hostilities” mean? Can you tell me when that will be? Seeing as how the “War On Terror” seems to include anyone on Earth who has a violent beef with the US or one of its allies, there’s no reason that “hostilities” ever have to officially end.
    Waiting for hostilities to end in this case is like waiting for crime — all of it — to end.

  79. jeremy.greenwood

    charles222: American citizens exempt.
    Well that’s alright then.
    Just another reason for me not to cross the Atlantic.
    You lot are pathetic, I spent most of my life under the threat of IRA terrorism without all this totalitarian nonsense (now where did they get their funding again?).

  80. T-Dog

    So we’ve heard repeatedly in 18 or so debates that universal healthcare is an infringement of our freedom, but somehow this it acceptable. We willing give up the chance at cheaper, better healthcare because its “Un-American”, yet allowing the equivalent to stormtroopers taking us out of our homes and detaining us is what?…patriotic?

    Before anyone tries to convince me I’m wrong about the healthcare thing…I lived with it for 40 years in Canada. It works as good as anything I’ve encountered here.

    Don’t get me started.

    Cheers.

  81. Matt H.

    After years of movement towards more inclusion, the bill’s singling out of non-citizens marks a retreat and the movement towards exclusion.

    When one group’s rights are attacked, everyone rights are attacked.

  82. Adam morgan

    @Joseph G Secs 1031 and 1032 does not talk about protections being excluded outside the U.S. borders. It says, very specifically, that the law is not applicable to U.S. citizens. Period. No exemptions are made on that that I could find. If it does, would you be so kind as to point me towards the section and paragraph that does as I must have missed it when I read the bill. Also exempt under the bill are legal resident aliens.

    As for the “without trial” bit, that is cherry picking. That same paragraph has 3 other options. They can be tried under title 10, chapter 47, transferred to another court (non-military) or transferred to a country of origin for trial. The without trial until the end of hostilities covers situations where someone is captured and rather than try them right away, you wait until the war is over, then decide to either try them yourself, try them criminally, transfer them to, say, The Hague, or back to their own country for trial. As stated in the bill it is subject to the Law of War which is the series of international agreements on conduct of war. Such as the Geneva Convention of 1949. Again, the fear over this line is because it is being taken out of the context of the surrounding language. By itself it looks scary. In context it is exactly what pretty much every country has been doing for the last century or two under international scrutiny.

    With such a nebulous war as The War on Terror, yes, it is rather vague and undefinable. Normally, a war has a pretty cut and dried start and end. However, with the removal of troops from Iraq, and soon Afghanistan, I’ll bet this will start to become an urgent thing to look into as the War itself is being redefined and therefore, the original mission is ending.

  83. Slowly but Surly

    @ techskeptic Ditto in CA.

    But why should we assume that either party cares are civil/human rights in the USA? Both sides only bring up the bill of rights if/when its convenient, but otherwise ignore the rule of law to stay in office.

    Said to say I’ll be voting 3rd party wacko, again, this year.

  84. @78 Adam Morgan: I’m just going on what others have said, admittedly. I’ll take your word for it for now, but I’m going to see what a friend of mine has to say about it (he’s a lawyer who’s been doing pro bono work for Occupy protestors, so he presumably knows a thing or two about law pertaining to detention).

  85. Adam morgan

    @Josheph G That would be a great opinion to get. I’m curious as well. I’m going off of a reading of the law and previous law as well. Of course interpretation is always up to the courts. But based solely on the language here, it does not appear to be a worry at all. At least not in the way nor on the level that the outcry has been lead to believe it is. Let me know what your friend says though, as he is undoubtedly more of an expert on this than I am.

  86. Felix

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    Think about it, Mr. “No problem, US citizens are excluded”

  87. The NDAA if passed will only go to further stifle our Constitutional Rights without the approval of the Americans, just as the Patriot Act was adopted WITHOUT public approval or vote just weeks after the events of 9/11. A mere 3 criminal charges of terrorism a year are attributed to this act, which is mainly used for no-knock raids leading to drug-related arrests without proper cause for search and seizure. The laws are simply a means to spy on our own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents without trial or a right to council. You can read much more about living in this Orwellian society of fear and see my visual response to these measures on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/09/living-in-society-of-fear-ten-years.html

  88. Kevin

    I don’t understand how saying U.S. citizens are exempt is supposed to be comforting. It’s like saying “it’s OK, white people are exempt.” Looking around here, I’m the only U.S. citizen in the room, which is not atypical in grad school. So the argument is “it’s OK, they can only take all the people around you and hold them without trial indefinitely.” This may sound like a contrived situation (because it is), but the point is that such a thing should not even be possible. Not for non-citizens, not for anybody, anywhere, ever. It’s a fundamental right in this country and that should remain as such, even for visiting non-citizens or traveling citizens.

  89. Elmar_M

    Adam, so you are saying that all the senators that are speaking out against it and the members of the FBI and the CIA and the Pentagon that are saying otherwise, are all wrong and you are the only one understanding the bill correctly?
    I think that the bill is purposely worded ambiguously, so that people like you that dont want to believe that their government would do such a hideous thing, can believe whatever they want.
    Like these here, e.g.:
    http://video.msnbc.msn.com/up-with-chris-hayes/45707001#45707001

  90. Elmar_M

    Also worth noting are the other things that are happening in the wake of the bill. Like the civil rights department at the FBI that is concerned with complaints against the DHS and the TSA being basically dissolved… and the duties assigned to the DHS (makes sense, hu).
    The DHS now asking the kids at school to spy on their parents…
    But of course, you are free to believe whatever you want…

  91. MadScientist

    Dubbyah’s bellicose puppetmasters are operating Obama as well. I’m doubting that Obama is any better that McPalin. What use is a president who will not uphold the freedom of his people?

    @Kevin#82: Unfortunately that is not a contrived situation – it happens all the time around the world in nations we call despotic and tyrannical.

  92. QuietDesperation

    I was worried about writing this post. I was concerned that in the United States of America, a nation of laws founded upon a Constitution guaranteeing my rights, that I might go on some sort of watch list somewhere.

    Phil, I love ya, and agree with you 100% on this bill, but that line above is perilously close to the intersection of of Woo Street and Blackhelicopter Avenue. The only thing missing is the “keep your powder dry” sign off you see a lot on conspiracy theory boards. ;-)

    Heh heh… Blackhelicopter Avenue…

  93. VinceRN

    @74 Adam morgan – The paragraph you point out in 1032 says it is not a requirement for American citizens, in no way does it exclude American citizens.

    Everyone should read this bill, it’s easy to find. Don’t go on what others are saying. The language is fairly simple, and the relevant sections are surprisingly short.

  94. QuietDesperation

    This is why I always rant that skepticism should be applied to everypart of you life, not just to religion, ateranative medicine, and Bigfoot as so many who call themselves skeptic seem to.

    Hey, that’s my rant. ;-)

    I’m astonished by many skeptics who go on and on about big government abuses, and then in another breath go on and on about the alleged glory that is the Progressive agenda, as if this giant power mad structure will suddenly start working perfectly if we get *just* the right people in there. It’s mind boggling, and it definitely *is* a form of faith. And then they call themselves “reality based” and you just have to laugh in their faces. It can’t be helped.

    And, no, I’m not talking about Phil here. He always seems moderate to me which is a good trick, because I have no fixed ideology, so *most* folks seem like extremists to me. :)

  95. QuietDesperation

    Everyone should read this bill

    Eh… can’t I just oppose it? Reading political lawyerspeak triggers depressive episodes for me.

  96. Frost

    President Obama was threatening to veto it not because it’s a hideous freedom-destroying totalitarian mess, but because it didn’t give him enough power. That’s rather different than being a staunch defender of the constitution – the constitution that he metaphorically peed all over when he ordered the assassination of American citizens. Just because those citizens (one of which was a minor) had Muslim names and were abroad doesn’t mean the president had the right to murder them with zero due process.

    Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the President has such draconian powers, so when he does power grabs that make the hideousness that was the Bush presidency look like a mild breeze of reasonableness, something has got to change. I can only assume they’re cracking down now and putting the dominoes in place so they can impose martial law when the US implodes – and let’s face it, the way the banksters have abused the system and sucked upwards to 30 trillion out of it, the US and the rest of the world is headed for a gargantuan depression that is unlike anything we’ve seen yet. That combined with the now inevitable multi-degree global warming that will raise sea levels and wreak further weather-based havoc… interesting times ahead.

  97. Radwaste

    All please read the link provided by Adam Morgan at #74. If you are not reading the bill itself, you are getting hearsay.

  98. Bystander

    This bill is very sad example of elite’s attempt to insure their safety from descent. And unfortunately I do not expect wide outrage from general populous about it. The author mentioned that such bill would rather expected in Soviet Union. And this is truth. Only there “terrorists” were called “enemies of the people”. But as in the Soviet Union such measure did not cause wide condemnation it will not do in the United States either. People are too afraid. They are afraid for their life and lifes of their relatives. So they will “approve” anything what happens to others as soon as this does not touch them. Those who were not so lucky would be torched and will admit their “guilt”. And people gladly will condemn “terrorist” and “demand” tough punishment for them. One would say: This never would happened to me because I am law abiding citizen… But do not forget saying “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”…

  99. Brian Schlosser

    Given that the President has already asserted and exercised his supposed authority to execute American citizens without charges, trial or sentencing, being able to keep Americans locked up indefinitely seems like icing on a particularly rancid cake.

    I agree with Elmar @83, I think the NDAA was purposely written vaguely to allow as much leeway as possible for the Executive to do pretty much whatever it wants, in the name of fighting “terrorism” (which has become the single least useful word in the English language).

    I voted for Obama, and have been disappointed at every step. But seriously, what other alternative is there? Gingrich said over the weekend that if he were president, he would essentially ignore any and all court decisions that he felt were wrong. For someone who made such a fuss over the Rule of Law back in ’98, he seems to have forgotten what it means.

    I’d vote Franken/Paul fils, or Kuchinich/Paul pere, if such choices were available. As it is, it seems like another verse of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” is all we are going to get.

  100. Elmar_M

    @86. They made files on people for less than that post by Phil.

  101. James

    After watching your police pepperspraying peaceful students and old women… And one of your presidential candidates openly using homophobia to promote his campagne… And one of your soldiers being put on trial for exposing the war crimes and corruption in your military…

    I can only conclude that America is an evil and dangerous regime that the rest of the world should disassociate itself from.

  102. Jess Tauber

    Which watch list that you weren’t already on were you worried about ending up on? I’m guessing a clandestine ‘Bad AstronomER discussion’ already exists somewhere. You never know whom some of your more vehement critics here, or some of your most ardent supporters, may report back to…..

    BUT there is still hope, Phil. If you denounce your skeptical philosophy and come back to young-earth creationism, start voting Republican, and espouse sincere Fundamentalist Christian belief in no taxation for job-creators, then MAYBE you’ll never have to worry about that phone call letting you know that we’ve taken your family.

  103. Leon
  104. Steve

    And this is why the 2nd Amendment is just as important as the 1st. So say we all.

  105. While the hyperbole of this bill may be spun out a bit beyond the actual verbiage, I still feel like the terrorists are winning. Their goal is to change our way of life because they do not agree with it, and in that respect they are winning. They have somehow succeeded in making our freedoms all the more tenuous and more a model for the way of life they envision. Not a good thing.

  106. Jeffersonian

    Here’s to letting an incomplete rumor kneejerk your keyboard offa yo lap.

  107. I swear, I remember voting for a Constitutional scholar in 2008. A guy who promised to close Gitmo and end the despicable, fear-based violations of civil rights and due process that were going on.

    In areas of the economy and other things, I think Obama has done about as well as he could in dealing with the current Congress. But the way he’s allowed this continued degradation of the Bill of Rights — always, always based on the most blatantly fear-mongering propaganda — is indefensible.

  108. Anne Schwartz

    In answer to David Musick’s request for a link to a site explaining the specific language changes in the NDAA, and to anyone else who would like to see it, go to Glenn Greenwald’s article at the link below.

    http://www.salon.com/2011/12/16/three_myths_about_the_detention_bill/singleton/

  109. Jacob Slutsky

    Try reading the bill yourself, rather than telling Phil to do so. The changes allow the government to also try captives in civil court, but the bill still very specifically disallows access to a trial for those detained. The language about American citizens and legal residents is vague, which presumably why none of you quote it. Here it is:

    (d) CONSTITUTIONAL LIMITATION ON APPLICA21
    BILITY TO UNITED STATES PERSONS.—The authority to
    22 detain a person under this section does not extend to the
    23 detention of citizens or lawful resident aliens of the United
    24 States on the basis of conduct taking place within the
    1 United States except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.

    There are no specific limitations here. It says, in effect, do it, and see if the courts stop you at some point. If that makes you feel better, you are a reaching.

    In any event, I have read the detainee sections bill, and wholly disagree with you all. It says until the war against Al Qaida and anybody kinda like them is over. That is pretty damn indefinite.

    It says the Federal goverment doesn’t have to explain itself, and can in fact grab people off the street. If someone comes here to murder people, then charge them as such. We should fight as Americans, and this useless cowardess is absolutely worth opposing at every turn.

  110. SeanMcD

    The US already preforms extra-judicial killings of American citizens it deems a threat to its national security, see here:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/8799295/Same-US-military-unit-that-got-Osama-bin-laden-killed-Anwar-al-Awlaki.html

    Sure this was a guy that inspired ill will of the worst kind, at home and abroad, but he could have been apprehended and brought to justice like any other criminal. Instead, our government chose to murder him in a foreign, sovereign state, albeit Yemen. After we become complacent with this latest round of law making, I expect to see the killing of American criminals off shore be codified. After all by then it will have become SOP. And so it slips down the slope.

  111. Daniel J. Andrews

    After watching your police pepperspraying peaceful students and old women… And one of your presidential candidates openly using homophobia to promote his campagne… And one of your soldiers being put on trial for exposing the war crimes and corruption in your military…
    I can only conclude that America is an evil and dangerous regime that the rest of the world should disassociate itself from.

    Instead of disassociating from it, maybe the rest of the world might have to eventually return the favour and liberate America (as they did for Iraq) and give the people a chance to develop a democratic system where human rights are valued? It seems the politicians have already lost touch with the people and the elected representatives more often pass bills that favour their lobbyists than what the people want.

  112. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Daniel J. Andrews : I think you are taking your hyperbole waa-aay over the top there. A foreign invasion to “liberate” the United States is a good idea? Really? :roll:

    The situation is still an awfully long way from that methinks. Also you forget the USA’s military strength incl. its ICBMs and USAF capabilities and its armed and highly politically motivated patriotic population. Invading America is NOT recommended and would be catastrophic for all involved in such a hypothetical conflict. :-(

    @27. anonymous : December 19th, 2011 at 8:55 am

    When I was growing up and we were fighting for independence from the Soviet Union only 2 decades ago the US was considered the land of the free. The US was an example, something people had dreamt of during the occupation.Nowadays if I talked about the US as the land of the free I’d be laughed at.

    Reminds me of the childhood rhyme :

    “America’s a free land,
    Free without a doubt,
    If you haven’t any money
    Then you’re free to go without!

    Although I guess really that’s true for pretty much everywhere on the planet when you think about it.

    The US has become a joke, a sad sad joke.

    It has eh? Do you honestly think so? In what way?

    The United States of Amercia is still the world’s only superpower. (China is rising but I’m not convinced its quite a superpower yet.) It is the most powerful and influential nation -certainly in the Western world. Yes, it has its economic, social and political problems but compared with many nations it is still one of the better, freer and fairer places to live. I’m not a resident or citizen (an Aussie speaking here) but I do think that for all its woes the USA still treats people more equally and gives them more rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – plus more opportunitities to improve in life – than the vast majority of nations on the globe.

    I could be wrong, I’m less sure of that than I once was – and recent developments such as this bill aren’t taking the US in the right direction – but I think that’s the case still.

    @ 75. Stargazer : December 19th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    It’s getting more and more difficult for your country [the USA presumably- ed.] to preach about democracy, freedom and human rights to other countries. I expect to never hear anything about that again.

    That would be incredibly sad if true which I don’t think it is. I don’t know about the “preaching” part but I do think the USA and indeed all nations should talk and aim to improve the situation so there is more democracy, mor efreedom and more human rights.

    Do you really wish the USA to say nothing more about democracy, human rights and freedom for everyone on the planet? Do you think problems anywhere in those areas should just be ignored? :-(

  113. Luke

    109. Jacob: “There are no specific limitations here. It says, in effect, do it, and see if the courts stop you at some point.”

    It says nothing like that. It does specifically limit it. Again, Sec. 1032 (b) (1) from the current bill:

    “UNITED STATES CITIZENS.—The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States. ”

    It’s incredibly clear. It’s saying that the aforementioned “requirement” to detain enemy combatants DOES NOT APPLY TO CITIZENS. There is of course a separate philosophical argument as to whether you should be allowed to detain ANYONE in such a manner, but please stop spreading misinformation about this specific issue. I’m sorry, but everyone seems to have gotten caught up in this huge outrage machine, seeded by all the blogs and social media sites that they frequent (it happens to the best of us, myself included on occasion). These claims are simply not true. From the PRECEDING section (Sec. 1031) of the current bill:

    “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.”

    Analyze the relevant text (1031 and 1032 of http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112s1867es/pdf/BILLS-112s1867es.pdf) from scratch, on your own. Go over it in bits and take it in if you need to, it’s definitely written abstrusely, but it’s not completely impossible to understand.

  114. Messier Tidy Upper

    @99. Brian Schlosser : December 19th, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Given that the President has already asserted and exercised his supposed authority to execute American citizens without charges, trial or sentencing, being able to keep Americans locked up indefinitely seems like icing on a particularly rancid cake.

    I guess you are referring to the case of Anwar-al-Awlaki there just like (#110.) SeanMcD was, right? Well, unfortunately the nature of the current war against Jihadist terrorism (as it might’ve been better named) is very different from past wars against at least semi-honourable and semi-rational opponents. Assassinating Jihadist terrorists such as Awlaki – and Osama bin Laden – is the best and most appropriate course of action. You may not like that reality, I’m not overly happy with it myself, but it is.

    Capturing Anwar Awlaki and those like him would have put a lot more lives at risk both at the time and afterwards. Holding him captive and trying him publicly would’ve raised too many major problems such as terrorist kidnappings to try and release him and he would have still worked from jail plotting and preaching terrorism and constantly a risk of him escaping. Its not considered nice and not politically correct to say I know but extrajudicial assassinations are quite simply really the best way to go with terrorists like him. The Jihadist terrorists aren’t fighting a normal war by normal “queensbury” rules and things do have to be different to beat them.

    Remember here too that Anwar al-Awlaki was one of the most evil and dangerous of the Jihadist monsters and is NOT worth shedding any tears over. The world is much better off without him in it. Full stop.

    “terrorism” (which has become the single least useful word in the English language).

    I disagree. Terrorism is a valid word with a clear and valid meaning and while some on the political Left particularly like to try and twist it and reduce its meaning with nonsense about “one mans terrorist being anothers freedom fighter” and so on, it does retain its meaning and we do know it when we see it. Bin Laden is a terrorist as are Hamas and Jemaah Islamiyya. Nations and groups that are fighting terrorism are doing exactly that – fighting terrorism in self-defence and NOT engaging in terrorism themselves, again, despite some Left-wingers claims.

    I voted for Obama, and have been disappointed at every step. But seriously, what other alternative is there?

    How about Mitt Romney? A moderate Republican who is at least halfway reasonable right?

    There’s also Jon Huntsman who is even better but unfortunately he stands pretty much no chance at all of winning the Republican nomination from what I gather.

    Of course the problem is that whoever you vote for, you end up with a politician. Sigh. :-(

  115. QuietDesperation

    (Pops back in for a peek)

    Mother of God!

    (Hyperbole detector explodes with the force of a thousand suns)

  116. Quiet Desperation: Heh heh… Blackhelicopter Avenue…
    I had to say something, but I’m not sure what. Heh. I’d love a PO box on that street.

    I’m astonished by many skeptics who go on and on about big government abuses, and then in another breath go on and on about the alleged glory that is the Progressive agenda, as if this giant power mad structure will suddenly start working perfectly if we get *just* the right people in there. It’s mind boggling, and it definitely *is* a form of faith. And then they call themselves “reality based” and you just have to laugh in their faces. It can’t be helped.

    Perhaps I doth protest too much, but here’s my counterargument to this:
    I believe that many on both the left and right oversimplify the role of government. I don’t think there’s a one-dimensional continuum of simply “more” or “less” government; I believe it’s our place as the people to decide what areas are appropriately left with more or less government intervention. So I personally don’t see any contradiction in certain common opinions regarding the “size” of government: such as the beliefs that a wholly government-administered health insurance plan would be superior to our current system, while at the same time, that the government should keep its paws off of things it clearly doesn’t even understand (SOPA). IMHO, it’s not big government that’s dangerous, it’s big government devoid of citizen scrutiny and oversight.

    And, no, I’m not talking about Phil here. He always seems moderate to me which is a good trick, because I have no fixed ideology, so *most* folks seem like extremists to me.

    Heh, I know the feeling. Although lately I find myself occasionally nodding in agreement with people whom, five years ago, I’d probably have dismissed as radical lefties (such as many among the Occupy crowd).
    My personal political preferences seem to swing around quite a bit as the years go by. I’m not sure whether this is healthy or disturbing.

    *ducking molten fragments of QD’s hyperbole detector*
    Damn, man! You’ve got to put a circuit breaker on that thing, or something. Especially if you’re going to activate it while online. Sheesh. Now I have scorch marks on my favorite shirt. And my favorite skin.

  117. @98 Bystander: This bill is very sad example of elite’s attempt to insure their safety from descent.

    I’d like to voice my ascent, here :D
    (Sorry, couldn’t resist. It’s been a rough couple of months, I need to have some fun)

  118. @114 MTU: The only reason Mitt Romney looks at all reasonable is because of the bats**t craziness of people like Newt “I am Your Savior” Gingrich. He still toes the Republican line on anti-science.

    Huntsman is the most reasonable of the Republican candidates, I agree, but he’s also last in the polls. Think about that. The only one out of seven candidates who’s willing to take a radical position like “Hey, maybe scientists are right sometimes,” and he’s dead farking last, with something like 2%, last time I looked.
    I can’t entirely blame the pessimists.

  119. captain swoop

    Some good Scepticism on show here.

    How many of the people commenting have read the actual Bill? How many are reading the stuff on line that supports their exisitng views instead?

  120. anonymous

    @112. Messier Tidy Upper Says
    December 19th, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Of course it’s a superpower, the superpower. Who says otherwise? It’s an awesome country in many other ways too. And I’d love to visit it. But it’s a joke in regard to being the land of the free and and being an example to emerging democratic states.

  121. Hugo Schmidt

    Word to all you yankee types, it’s wise to heed the words of the marvellously reactionary Peter Hitchens:

    “It is much more likely that an eagle will drop a tortoise on my head while I’m walking down the street than I’ll die in a terrorist outrage, and if I were worried about it, I would not rely on Mr. Milliband and his rabble to protect me from terrorism. They couldn’t protect me, they couldn’t protect me from a pigeon dropping and I really don’t think they should pretend that they could, let alone – they should not be allowed to destroy hundreds of years of liberty on this ridiculous, shameful pretext. They should go and hide rather than try to defend it”

  122. @121 Hugo Schmidt: I’m unfamiliar with the gentleman, but am I right to assume that Peter is related to Christopher?
    The prose reads similarly :)

  123. Messier Tidy Upper

    Just seen this response to the NDAA bill by Tea Party Leader Jules Manson* here :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/2011/12/19/tea-party-leader-jules-manson-calls-for-assassination-of-obama-and-family/

    Whoah. That is .. yikes. :-o

    To think I originally thought the BA’s reaction might have been a bit over-the top on this. Yikes.

    *****

    * Who I must admit I’ve never heard of before. I thought the Tea party leaders were higher profile people like Perry, Bachmann , Santorum and maybe Palin but anyhow.

  124. Messier Tidy Upper

    @120. anonymous :

    Of course it’s a superpower, the superpower. Who says otherwise? It’s an awesome country in many other ways too. And I’d love to visit it. But it’s a joke in regard to being the land of the free and and being an example to emerging democratic states.

    Well, I disagree and think that’s being a bit unfair and hyperbolic.

    @118. Joseph G :

    @114 MTU: The only reason Mitt Romney looks at all reasonable is because of the bats**t craziness of people like Newt “I am Your Savior” Gingrich. He still toes the Republican line on anti-science.

    Okay. My impression was – and I could well be mistaken just going from the media and online reports – that Romney was pretty moderate and that was a big part of the resistence by the Tea party to him -that he was viewed as not extreme enough and that he had (at least at one stage) said some pretty reasonable things eg. about taking Human Induced rapid Global Overheating seriously and that deep down he is (quietly) pretty rational and accepted science in away the others mostly did not?

    Is that really a false impression? :-(

    Huntsman is the most reasonable of the Republican candidates, I agree, but he’s also last in the polls. Think about that. The only one out of seven candidates who’s willing to take a radical position like “Hey, maybe scientists are right sometimes,” and he’s dead farking last, with something like 2%, last time I looked. I can’t entirely blame the pessimists.

    Me either. I see what your saying there and, yes, it is a concern and also really quite depressing. :-(

    My hope and thinking was that a lot of the overheated extreme partisanship in the USA might end if Obama loses in 2012 and a moderate rational Republican gets in, calms things down a little (or preferably a lot! ;-) ) and drags them – and the rest of the nation back towards the political centre.

    My feeling is that in a “Nixon to China” type way a moderate Republican could perhaps move the nation back to the centre and his party back towards more acceptence of science and rationality in a way that a Democrat president (& esp. Obama who seems to evoke some extreme over-emotional reactions indeed!)</i never could achieve.

  125. First, it’s long. Even section 1031, the bad section, is several pages. Second, it’s written in lawyer-ese, not English.

    It’s not in the final law.

    What disappoints me badly about this post, and consequent discussion here is that Phil – and most people – immediately leapt to a conclusion based on preliminary data. If this had been a scientific paper, you would have been all over it. But because it’s politics, you just ran with it.

    Here’s a complete breakdown and analysis of the actual law provisions:
    http://www.lawfareblog.com/2011/12/ndaa-faq-a-guide-for-the-perplexed/

    One can be against the detention provisions that were already in place, but realistically, those were not going to be revoked by this Congress. I also note that some of the “concerned” lawmakers who voted against the NDAA (notably after it was assured passage) were also among those voting for the prevention of the closure of Guantanamo. They’re only concerned about indefinite detention until it might mean that detainees might be in their state.

  126. QuietDesperation

    Damn, man! You’ve got to put a circuit breaker on that thing, or something.

    There was a circuit breaker. The hyperbole arced right across the contacts. That requires a hyperbole field of 300 kilohypes.

  127. Go Forth, Agents of Goldstein
    (Yellow Rose of Texas)

    My mother spied upon the State,
    My father did so too.
    The were just like the Rosenbergs
    Though they appeared true blue.
    My sister spies upon the State,
    And husband and their kids,
    We’ve got to get those camps in gear
    And fill them with our Yids.

    My neighbors spy upon the State,
    My grocer does it too.
    Kids in school and teachers spy,
    And priests to name a few.
    Drivers on the freeways spy,
    And drivers on the streets,
    And those who wait for buses,
    And those who walk on cleats.

    Republicans spy on the State,
    The Democrats do too.
    Socialists and fascists spy,
    The Greens know what to do.
    Congress spies upon the State,
    The courts and cops with hate.
    We must kill them all tomorrow
    Lest we quickly lose our State.

  128. @123 MTU: Okay. My impression was – and I could well be mistaken just going from the media and online reports – that Romney was pretty moderate and that was a big part of the resistence by the Tea party to him -that he was viewed as not extreme enough and that he had (at least at one stage) said some pretty reasonable things eg. about taking Human Induced rapid Global Overheating seriously and that deep down he is (quietly) pretty rational and accepted science in away the others mostly did not?
    Is that really a false impression?

    You have a point – for instance, the state health care program he initiated as governor of Massachusetts has been criticized by other conservatives as being extremely similar to Obama’s plan. So yeah, on further review, it’s indeed more complex then I thought.
    I did s’more googling… It looks like he’s made statements saying that he does believe HIRGO is real. But in the very same discussion, he says he does not want to spend “trillions and trillions” to reduce CO2 emissions. It seems that he does favor conservation and alternative energy, to be fair. Anyway, he later (at a debate) reaffirmed that he thinks HIRGO is a real issue, but in literally the same breath he bashes Newt Gingrich for filming a HIRGO awareness ad with Nancy Pelosi (IMHO one of his saner moments).
    So apparently his stance is: “HIRGO is real, but any mitigation strategies that sound like something Al Gore would come up with are bad. Also, if you’re out there trying to raise awareness on the issue, you aren’t a Real Conservative.”
    I suppose that appearing with Pelosi (a favorite Liberal bogeywoman of the US Right) may have been the crux of that jab at Gingrich.

    The scary thing is, Gingrich is currently on top in the polls (keeping in mind that this is a guy who was drummed out of his House Speaker position by his own party on allegations of fiscal improprieties). For more craziness, check out this gem from a Vanity Fair interview:

    “I have an enormous personal ambition. I want to shift the entire planet. And I’m doing it…Oh, this is just the beginning of a 20-or-30-year movement. I’ll get credit for it…As a historian, I understand how histories are written. My enemies will write histories that dismiss me and prove I was unimportant. My friends will write histories that glorify me and prove I was more important than I was. And two generations or three from now, some serious, sober historian will write a history that sort of implies I was whoever I was.”

    O-kayyy… And then there’s his recent message to the Occupy protesters – that they should “take a shower” and “get a job”. Yeah. Think about that.
    So there would certainly be worse things then a Romney presidency :-P

    My hope and thinking was that a lot of the overheated extreme partisanship in the USA might end if Obama loses in 2012 and a moderate rational Republican gets in, calms things down a little (or preferably a lot! ) and drags them – and the rest of the nation back towards the political centre.
    My feeling is that in a “Nixon to China” type way a moderate Republican could perhaps move the nation back to the centre and his party back towards more acceptence of science and rationality

    I’m not sure about all that. Overheated partisanship certainly didn’t start with Obama. I’d say it’s been a problem since at least the 90s. A suitable figure dragging the Republican itself party back toward the center, that I could see, but the country? In just a few years we’ve had a white house and congress both dominated by both parties, and nothing ever seems to get any less ridiculous in any configuration.

  129. QuietDesperation

    Overheated partisanship certainly didn’t start with Obama. I’d say it’s been a problem since at least the 90s.

    Which century? ;-)

    I put it at the time Ugg decided he wanted to be clan leader over Ogg. The “debate” was three takedowns out of five (which was the highest number invented at the time). Well, at least they had *tough* leaders back then.

    I also like to imagine wrestling a bear was involved at some point, much like Teddy Roosevelt’s campaign stops many millennia later.

  130. lily

    thank you and bravo you

  131. Ann

    Phil, it is not yet as bad as it seems. Apparently changes were made, and currently American citizens are exempt….for now. The website Lawfare has a breakdown of the bill. What it does and does not do. I have not gotten to it yet but it is cited on Bob Cesca’s blog post 12/20/11 at 11.57 am. It may be bad but not quite as bad yet as some websites and the ACLU are claiming. Not yet. The article at Lawfare is by Benjamin Wittes and is entitles Hard National Security Choices. Check it out. It may make you better informed on the subject and that always helps.

  132. MNP

    The entire planet is like this now.

  133. MaDeR

    it is funny how half ot discutants scream one thing, and other half completely opposite thing. I do not care about little detail like this. I will say something else.
    My country had not that long ago elections. And we had party that did not exists few month ago properl up to be thrid party in power. Reasons are various and complicated. Future is uncertain. But our democracy is better than USA “democracy” ever will be. I felt a little better about my country.

    I refuse to call eternal two-party duopoly “democracy”. I would laugh at USA – or more specifically at your idiotic, corrupted, crappy and stupid goverment – if not for one simple fact. This is not thrid-world banana republic, this is world superpower. And this is scary. I will just live on, hoping that I will die of old age before bovine manure meets with whirling device.

  134. Grimoire

    I felt a little better about my country.

    And yet you don’t proudly name it.

  135. MaDeR

    Poland. Is this that important, how it is named?

  136. @Luke (113):

    You must have missed the part of the (earlier) discussion in this reply-thread, where it was pointed out that section 1022 having no REQUIREMENT to detain U.S. citizens does not mean the government/military CAN’T detain them. Merely that they don’t HAVE to unless they want to.

  137. JupiterIsBig

    Why isn’t there some limit or guideline on what actually can be put into a Bill. Surely any amendments should be relevant to the Bill ?

  138. CR

    @JupiterIsBig(138)
    I think a lot of people would like relevance to be a part of EVERY bill introduced, but most of us are not in postitions to influence politicians to act accordingly.

  139. Ullrich Fischer

    Excellent letter, Phil. I agree completely. To those responders who talk about limiting government as if the federal government were the main problem, I would ask that they consider that most US residents (and this applies to other western countries as well to a lesser degree) actually live under two types of government.

    One is nominally democratic in that every so many years you get to choose a representative from one party or the other. That would be great if both parties weren’t beholden to the feudal leaders of the other type of government.

    When you take a job or open a small business, you are under the control of a feudal system of government where power flows in a patrilineal manner from fathers to sons and where you have absolutely no say in who is governing you. All the big multinational corporations which you are serving either as a direct employee, consultant, supplier, or consumer effect your life directly. You have no say in how or by whom they are managed.

    This is the real limit on democracy. This is why your rights are being stripped away piece by piece. It isn’t just the Dems and Repubs. It is the people who buy and sell the candidates in both parties. If you think that the post-Reagan push to deregulate industry is about reducing the size of government, you are fooling yourself. It is about transferring more power from the type of government over which you have some control through elections to the other type of government (by ownership of everything involved in the production of goods and services) over which you have absolutely no control. When there was a free market, with real competition among distinct suppliers of goods and services, capitalism and the american way of life did very well. Now that the free market has evolved into an oligarchy, and the electoral system has evolved into a kleptocracy, you might have noticed that you’re not doing nearly so well.

  140. Luke

    #137. tracer

    I still don’t understand, I quoted the relevant passage (The numbers have changed between drafts, but it’s the same section as the 1022 you’re referring to. I don’t know if anyone’s pointed out yet that the name of the relevant section is “Military Custody for *Foreign* Al-Qaeda Terrorists,” by the way…) and I thought showed that that interpretation makes no rational sense. It lays out the requirements for detainment of terrorists, then specifically says, “These requirements do not extend to U.S. citizens.” I don’t understand the confusion of anyone here or of Glenn Greenwald with somehow interpreting that to mean that they consider it “optional.” At worst in this claim’s favor it’s just poorly worded legalese that doesn’t explicitly forbid detainment (I would think previous law did this already). but it seems clear to me.

    I suspect this will come up in the courts regardless, hopefully everything will be sorted out legally and publicly in a much saner fashion then.

  141. @134 MaDeR: My country had not that long ago elections. And we had party that did not exists few month ago properl up to be thrid party in power. Reasons are various and complicated. Future is uncertain. But our democracy is better than USA “democracy” ever will be.

    We have the same in the States. The Tea Party didn’t exist at all until maybe 2 years ago, and now it’s far bigger then any third party in recent US history.
    Heh. Not that that’s anything to be proud of, though :-P

    @ Quiet Desperation: I put it at the time Ugg decided he wanted to be clan leader over Ogg. The “debate” was three takedowns out of five (which was the highest number invented at the time). Well, at least they had *tough* leaders back then.
    I also like to imagine wrestling a bear was involved at some point, much like Teddy Roosevelt’s campaign stops many millennia later.

    Bahaha.
    “Ogg make bad leader. Him want see Cro Magnons fail. He half Neanderthal! Him number-of-fingers-on-one-hand column for Neanderthals!”
    “No, Ugg lie! Him dangerous. Him say mammoth from moon god. Me know sun god bring mammoth, sun god say so. Follow Ugg, you have much meat, we will be strong!”

    Even though I know TR never wrestled bears, somehow this seems perfectly plausible to me. Truly, he was the Chuck Norris of presidents.

  142. Elmar_M

    @113 Luke:
    You do understand the meaning of the word “requirement”, right?
    Just because the military is not REQUIRED to detain american citizens indefinitely, does not mean that they CANT bet detained indefinitely anyway.
    I mean I am not a native English speaker and I understand the meaning there. So does rep McDermott, so does Ron Paul, so does even Levin, who wrote that fracking bill, when he argues that it is not unconstitutional to do that, because there is a case where the superior court allowed it. So please stop repeating the missinformation that is purposely spread by certain groups to make people feel false savety.
    Read this link some else posted here earlier. It will explain this to you:
    http://www.salon.com/2011/12/16/three_myths_about_the_detention_bill/singleton/

  143. – HOME DEPOT CO-FOUNDER BERNIE MARCUS: “Who gives a crap about some imbecile? Are you kidding me?”
    – HOME DEPOT CO-FOUNDER KEN LANGONE: “I am a fat cat, I’m not ashamed…If you mean by fat cat that I’ve succeeded, yeah, then I’m a fat cat. I stand guilty of being a fat cat.”
    – FORMER BB&T BANK CEO JOHN ALLISON: “Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let’s call it an attack on the very productive. This attack is destructive.”
    – PAYCHECX INC. FOUNDER TOM GOLISANO: “If I hear a politician use the term ‘paying your fair share’ one more time, I’m going to vomit.“

  144. NO NAME

    HEY. I believe in what the founding fathers have told us in our many years of being an american. If everything was to be solved by war, then what is the point of living? If everything is to come to an end, why did it start? If this bill passes, think of what us, the citizens are going to feel like we have no point. NDAA can’t just take away our rights to get out of debt. We need to find a different way to. War doesn’t solve anything.The founding fathers are going to be very dissapointed in us. goodbye America. I love you. But I do not love what the NDAA is doing to you.

  145. AUP

    *puts on a dress and runs to Canadian border*

  146. Anonymous

    John Mccane trying to pass this bill is gonna screw over the united states of america. Taking away the amendments of the constitution is uneeded. This doesnt matter tho because our government is already doing it. Why do you think the taxes are going up? Well our government is in so much debt that it is an acceptible reason. If the united States become a battleground for military purposes. Open up your eyes and see what is happening to this country.

    Connected as 1, divided by 0
    Your legiance
    Anonymous

  147. Pepijn

    @LordBlessedB:

    Illegals don’t deserve human rights.

    Can you hear yourself? Are you really truly saying that illegals can be held indefinitely without charge? Tortured? Assassinated? Killed without a trial or any kind of due process?

    If so then you are a terrible, terrible human being…

  148. @144 Solius: Where did you get those quotes? Sounds like an interesting site.
    Also, lolz at the ex-CEO of a bank referring to himself as “productive”. That’s about as far removed from producing things as you can be and still have an actual job title.

    EDIT: Actually, I take that back. The furthest you can be from producing anything of value and still have a job title would be “Congressperson”.

  149. @148 Pepijn: Not only that, the guy doesn’t seem to be very clear on what rights are, from an “American founding documents” perspective, anyway. As per the Declaration of Independence, an inalienable right (or what is typically called a “natural” right, as opposed to a “mere” legal right) is one which is “endowed [upon persons] by their creator.”
    In other words, human rights (pretty much encompassing what used to be called “natural rights”) are something that you are born with. They can be taken away, but they’re not bestowed upon you by a government. So it’s not a question of the US government giving (or not giving) illegal aliens rights, it’s a question of whether or not they take them away without due process.

  150. christy

    As if it couldn’t get any worse, you can now be shipped abroad to be tortured too!

    http://rt.com/usa/news/foreign-ndaa-suspected-us-367/

  151. Hugo Schmidt

    Joseph G,

    Yes, the younger brother. Probably the best conservative writer around today. Properly conservative, mind you.

    Basically, if you read both Peter and Christopher on any given subject, you will have the best arguments for and against it. Though they did agree on some things. If you haven’t yet had the chance to encounter the younger brother, I envy you.

    As regards this stuff, I simply do not understand the hysterical and self-pitying side of American politics. It doesn’t compute: tea party activists saying Obama will make himself a tyrant, the yahoos over at freethoughtblogs claiming that the US is a police state… You should try living in this country a while.

    When it comes specifically towards extreme actions against terrorism, the way they are always sold is that you have dedicated and devoted people who need to exceed the law now and then for good reasons. It’s not the case. It’s beause the US – and the UK too, heavens knows – have a ruling class that is both cowardly and nasty on this issue. Unable to do what’s right, it tries to make up for it by doing a lot of what’s wrong.

  152. @151 Hugo Schmidt: Maybe I’m tired, but I’m not quite following you on a couple of things.

    If you haven’t yet had the chance to encounter the younger brother, I envy you.
    Do you mean you envy me not having had to waste time reading his stuff? Or you envy the fact that I’ll have the pleasant experience of discovering him?

    As regards this stuff, I simply do not understand the hysterical and self-pitying side of American politics.
    Self-pitying how? I’m sure that’s an apt description of some people, I’m just looking for an example.

    It doesn’t compute: tea party activists saying Obama will make himself a tyrant, the yahoos over at freethoughtblogs claiming that the US is a police state… You should try living in this country a while.
    Which country is that? And why; is the situation even worse? Or better?
    Apologies if I missed something obvious, but it’s late and I just hit the refresh button before going to bed :)

  153. None none

    What u aren’t seeing is how easy it is to be labeled a terrorist .. It doesn’t take much and once u are labeled a terrorist u can’t say hey I’m a american u can’t detain me .. Just read the papers a child not to long ago told his teacher she looked pretty !! The child was labeled a terrorist just for saying that … It’s so easy to be labeled a terrorist and once u are your gone forever … So all u na Sayers u better think twice ….

  154. Hugo Schmidt

    No probs. I envy that you can still discover his work. Very worth reading, especially alongside that of his brother. On youtube you can catch some of their debates, and the one I’d recommend is the one on the EU and the abolition of Britain.

    As regards self-pitying, it’s encapsulated in what I said. It’s as though, never having been under a real tyrants boot, there exists a breed of commentators who are jealous of the moral stature of those who have struggled against the real thing. Hence this stuff about the US really being a “police state”.

    The country I am referring to is Britain, where you can get arrested and charged and sentenced for offending religious sensibilities, and for a number of other speech-crimes, and where we have a rapidly growing religious right that makes the one in the States look like timid amateurs in comparison. On the continent, where I also spend some time, things can be much worse.

  155. In reply to those of you who speak your opinion without regard for facts. You may read the text of Section 1032 of the NDAA which does indeed grant the U.S. government the authority to treat American citizens in the U.S. as meat to be disposed of . Maybe someone with a third grade education can explain the following to you.

    (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
    (4) WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY- The Secretary of Defense may, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the Secretary submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States.

  156. 007

    America, a beutiful country. Where we live in peace while our soldiers are fighting for us. Now John McCain is going to put our America to hell. I don’t understand why this phsyco thinks everything should be solved by war. If the government is actually going to do this, then what is the point of even living. Senator John McCain is not understanding the rights of the people. If we don’t have rights than he doesn’t have rights, he is a traitor.
    Founding Fathers, will not forgive you. Goodbye my fellow aquantinces.

  157. Oh WTF!?!? I wrote a long response to Hugo Schmidt, and it just farking disappeared! And now I have to go to an appointment. Dammit!

  158. Hugo Schmidt

    Ah, I’m sorry to hear that. It happens on this blog platform sometimes. I’m looking forward to your reply!

  159. Gahhh it happened again!!!
    Discoverymag doesn’t like me today…

    I’ll just leave you with this quote:

    “…one of the great secrets of human nature is that the one thing people want more than love, security, sex, chocolate or big-screen TV’s is to feel hard done by.
    Why? Because being hard done by is the shit. Feeling hard done by is the sweetest of drugs. If you’re being persecuted — it must mean you’re doing the right thing, right? You get the mellow buzz of the moral high ground, but without arrogantly claiming it as your own. You get an instant, supportive community in a big dark scary world of such scope it may well literally be beyond rational human processing. When you are hard done by, you get purpose in a life where otherwise, you’d have to find your own. And when you ride that high, then no amount of logic, no pointing out that in actuality you and your beliefs are at a high point of popularity and influence for the last hundred years — is going to pry that sweet crack-pipe of moral indignation from your hands.”
    —John Roger

  160. Hugo Schmidt

    Joseph,

    I like! Certainly accurate.

  161. “I will not be voting for you in the next election cycle”

    So, you will vote for the other candidate, even if he also voted against your wishes, or you won’t vote at all. The first option is probably cutting off your nose to spite your face. The second option accomplishes nothing or might tip the balance in favour of the other candidate, whom you presumably regard as worse (otherwise you would have voted for him).

    This shows why the two-party system is wrong, wrong, wrong. It is even worse than denying global warming. (A token third-party makes no sense as long as seats are distributed according to the first-past-the-post rule.)

  162. Elmar_M

    This shows why the two-party system is wrong, wrong, wrong. It is even worse than denying global warming. (A token third-party makes no sense as long as seats are distributed according to the first-past-the-post rule.)

    Absolutely true. In my country, the two big parties thought that they could do whatever they wanted. Split the cake nicely between them. Now the opposition is about to be the strongest party with the next elections and the two former big ones are peeing their pants. They litterally tried everything to keep the opposition down, including spreading lies and missinformation via government controlled media. In the end it was no use. People here have enough. Maybe there is a way for the US there as well?

  163. Ron Christian

    I’ve been an attorney for 20 years. I can read a piece of legislation. It’s official. Our supposedly elected, supposed representatives just abolished the Constitution. No, they did not repeal any part of it. They didn’t need to. They just made it “legal” to make anyone who disagrees with them disappear (“belligerent act”). The worst part is that, like the author of this letter, I too am actually wondering what particular list I am being placed on for speaking out about it. Americans should not have to feel that way, ever. I have never before been ashamed to have spent my working life in the law. But, I am now. The social contract is broken; the rule of law is dead. Without them, we are doomed to become nothing but a giant Somalia. We had better start marching in the streets now, or we will be fighting in them soon. I don’t know about the people in other states. But, the people in my state will not stand for this. This is the seedling of revolution.

  164. Sue

    First, this act is not radical far right-wing policy. On that I most adamantly disagree with you. Conservatives believe in the Constitution. This is directly AGAINST the Constitution. This is facism. I urge everyone to contact the ACLU who (I pray) will fight this on behalf of the American people. This part of the bill MUST be expunged and ruled unconstitutional.

  165. Sue

    I wish your assurances made me feel relieved, however, the ACLU seems concerned, too, and I think I’ll take their concern over your confidence our President will not take action against it’s citizens with murky wording in a 5,000 page bill. Feinstein’s amendment to expunge this small paragraph allowing our President to indefinitely detain us was roundly defeated. I don’t feel so good. Like my Rights as an American citizen are being violated. Bells going off.

  166. Ramon

    To David Musick and others: A great explanation of the bill’s language can be found here:

    http://verdict.justia.com/2011/12/21/the-national-defense-authorization-act-explained

  167. Grandpaspeaks

    Get ready for the next move. Kissinger once quipped “Control the oil and you control countries, control the food and you control the people” To all the naysayers who think this will not apply to US citizens, the Homeland definition of a potential terrorist is one with 7 days or more of food stored. Residential centers are already stocked. To all the oathkeepers, there are overt and covert domestic enemies. McVey was an overt terrorist and the previous system seemed to deal with him. Now, with the NDAA passed by Obama, it is imperative to correctly identify the covert domestic enemies of the Constitution. The system is now prepared for a violent revolution with the continuation of government plans to introduce a new bill of rights and suspend the constitution. Violence will not be the way. We have already been out manouvered. The vote in November will be our last chance to get it right. Get it wrong and it my be the last X you mark.

  168. There are lots of opportunities to defend the rule of law and restore the right to trial in 2012. Read about early efforts, as well as further analysis of the constitutional catastrophe wrought by the NDAA, at http://www.constitutioncampaign.org/blog/?p=5307.

  169. Carl

    alright some things Phil says is true but some is not one they can only snatch you right off the street or out of your house if they suspect you to be a terrorist and also 1031 and 1032 are both nullified by the contradiction the NDAA which says that anyone who is suspected of being a terrorist can be compounded and arrested and never to see a fair trial. Also in these they can torture and most likely do torture those they suspect and as Ron Paul stated that our government is not under torturing someone if it means getting answers that may just be false. You may read and be fed lies but truly read the entire thing and see how the protection of citizens from this new acts gets contradicted. This act that is passed can destroy this country but.. this act is only for the physical year therefore next year it would most likely be removed do to its unconstitutional conduct.

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