"The National Defense Authorization Act
...will confer upon the executive branch and the military
...the permanent authority to snatch and grab any person,
US citizens included, whom they decree to be a “terrorist”
— as defined or not by the executive or the military
— and imprison him indefinitely, without formal charge,
presentation of evidence or judicial proceeding of any kind.
These “detainees” will have neither civilian rights in the civil court system
nor — crucially — even the minimal rights to due process
and decent treatment conferred upon prisoners of war.
...The language of the bill specifically includes American citizens
“caught” within the borders of the United States
— aka, the “battlefield.”
...The wording is such that any shyster lawyer for the government
will be able to draw up a memorandum
at some point in the near future equating, say,
criticism of the federal government’s policies in the Middle East
with “substantially supporting” the enemies of the United States.
As defined by the United States.
That is, as defined by the government.
At its whim.
...what happens when some nutjob who attended a few Tea Party meetings
tries to bomb a federal building?
Will the Tea Party itself — and anyone who “substantially supports” it
— be thus transformed into an “enemy combatant”?
How about the OWS protestors?
...How hard will it be, really, to describe such actions
— such thoughts expressed in an article or an interview
— as “substantially supporting”
whatever the government decides amounts to “terrorism”
or the threat thereof against itself?
“The really galling thing
is that this act specifically envisions American citizens
falling under the authority of the bill.
...the dependably unlikeable Lindsey Graham of South Carolina,
bragged that the law ‘basically says…for the first time
that the homeland is part of the battlefield’
and that people can be jailed without trial,
be they ‘American citizens or not.’
New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte reiterated that
‘America is part of the battlefield.’”
Graham further stated:
“It is not unfair to make American citizens account for the fact
that they decided to help al-Qaida to kill us all
and hold them as long as it takes to find intelligence
about what may be coming next.
And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them,
‘Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.’”
The key thing being…it is entirely up to the government
to decide what constitutes “helping” al-Qaida.
It can be nothing more than a vague assertion.
...no evidence of any kind whatsoever is necessary
to “hold them as long as it takes”
in order to “find intelligence” (not defined, either)
by any means it wishes to employ.
As Taibbi notes:
...we would be forced to rely upon the discretion
of a demonstrably corrupt and consistently idiotic government
to not use these awful powers to strike back
at legitimate domestic unrest.”