Last week, Congress overwhelmingly passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and sent it to President Obama's desk. However, as readers of this blog well know, the NDAA isn't as cut and dried as it seems. Hidden beneath funding for the military is a provision that could allow the indefinite detention of American citizens.
Introduced by Senators Carl Levin and John McCain, the NDAA could be used to indefinitely detain Americans accused of a "belligerent act"—a definition so vague it could easily be applied to nearly any activist expressing dissent against the government.
This bill "could be the nail in the coffin of democracy," as Bill of Rights Defense Committee Executive Director Shahid Buttar stated in a recent interview with KPFA's Flashpoints radio.
Shahid has made a number of appearances on radio and television programs in recent weeks to explain the jeopardy this bill creates for the Constitution and the American people.
"Lots of people who have never been involved in any terrorism get accused of involvement of terror offenses all the time, particularly First Amendment activists on both sides of the political aisle," Buttar said in an interview with conservative radio host Shad Olson.
Olson and Buttar agreed that this was a bipartisan issue that concerns "anyone who calls themselves an American," whether they be a Tea Partier or an Occupier.
"If military detention is optional," he said to Uprising Radio, "your right to trial is not much of a right. It can be taken by executive discretion. "
Looking at laws similar to the NDAA that have passed in other countries, Buttar told Flashpoints, "these are the kind of legal authorities that enable police states in other countries all over the world, many of which were democracies before they took on those laws."
Buttar also pointed out the similarities between the NDAA and the PATRIOT Act, passed ten years ago this past September.
This is very similar to the PATRIOT Act in the form of a very deeply abusive act passing Congress in the figurative dead of night. But this is much, much worse than the PATRIOT Act. The PATRIOT Act only entailed the ability to spy on people. This bill gives the government the ability to lock people up and throw away the key. It is the fundamental erosion of some very deep-seated rights and liberties.
Americans need to worry about not only their freedoms, but also their safety as the secretary of defense, FBI director, and the director of national intelligence all oppose the provisions, citing a limitation on investigations and misplacement of power in the military.
"It not only offends civil rights but it really takes a hatchet to our nation's counterterrorism efforts because the FBI then loses any opportunity to use its investigative powers," Buttar explained on Flashpoints.
"The Department of Defense doesn't know how to proceed in domestic investigation; that's not what it does," he continued. "We need to let soldiers be soldiers and police be police."
President Obama has until December 26 to veto the NDAA or sign it into law. Join our grassroots effort to demand a veto by letting the president know We the People are against the NDAA.
To hear Shahid explain the threat the NDAA poses to our rights, check out the recent radio appearances in BORDC's press archive.