The Terrorists Are Winning

A commenter reminded me of something very important going on in Washington: American citizens are about to lose their constitutional right to due process, should they be suspected of palling around with terrorists.

Even though cable TV news has largely, if not completely, ignored this issue, the U.S. Senate has been debating the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes an unbelievable provision that is written such that it could give the U.S. military authorization to indefinitely detain without trial American citizens—on American soil—suspected of being members of Al Qaeda.

I know, I know, it is hard to believe. But Lindsey Graham suggests that America is a terrorism battlefield and that suspected combatants, even American citizens, should be held under “the law of war” and not civil laws. “We’re trying to fight a war here,” said Mr. Graham. Using that logic, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that the Constitution is a necessary casualty in that never-ending war.

Both Missouri senators, Blunt and McCaskill, voted against an amendment Tuesday that would have removed the provision, the amendment failing 38-60.  Only two Republicans voted in favor.

Today, the Senate voted on another amendment that would have partly restricted the military’s ability—which even the military doesn’t want—to strip citizens of their due process rights. It failed 45-55.

President Obama, who has been accused by radicals on the right of dictatorial delights, has threatened a veto, if the detainee provision stays as is. It turns out he is not fond of trampling the Constitution after all.

Hopefully, this surrealistic episode will come to a good end, but as I am fond of saying, these are strange times.

Do some research on this issue. It will scare you.

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I heard Sen. Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire, say today, “We should not be telling terrorists they have a right to remain silent.” The terrorists to which she referred were those living on American soil. I suppose, in the rush to “protect” Americans, it never occurred to Ms. Ayotte that in America there still remains the idea, although it is getting harder to see it every day, that you are not a “terrorist” until held so by a court of law—of what?  Of law.

8 Comments

  1. ansonburlingame

     /  December 2, 2011

    Duane,

    I wondered about the source of Jane’s off the wall (and topic) comment in an earlier blog. Now I know that of which he, she it, rants and you now as well.

    Thus some thoughts on Constitutional protection which I assume centers on the matter of habeus corpus for American citizens or anyone else arrested for a crime in this country.

    For sure, restrictions on habeus corpus are not unprecendented in our history, Lincoln doing so comes to mind during wartime. We also detained Japanese Americans, etc during WWII and no one rose a big stink over such matters during that time in our history.

    The point is of course that in SOME periods of national crisis, some limits on habeus corpus have been used in the past. That does not necessarily make it “right” but again, we have done so in the past without great public outrage.

    Now let’s take a very recent case in point, the American “terrorist” arrested and to be prosecuted under NY law, not federal law for “terrorism”. Such a charge raises all kinds of political debate for sure as well as jusidictional issues, etc. Is it “easier” to convict a “terrorist” in NY than in federal court seems to be the issue at hand and it does lend itself to this discussion.

    My point is WHAT IF, instead of charging the man with “terrorism” we charge him with TREASON??? Aidding and abetting the “enemy” which for damn sure Al Qaeda is today, small as it is now becoming,is our sworn enemy, is it not.

    So what if, in 1943 a vocal Nazi supporter in NYC was making bombs and “talking” about blowing things up therein to promote his Nazi affilations or beliefs?

    My guess is back then his ass would be charged with treason and the death penalty would loom over his sorry ass, back then and NO ONE would raise much of a stink.

    So what I ask is the difference for that “American” (legal status only and not ideas or political sentiments) then or now. Both are aidding and abetting a sworn enemy, an enemy that has already brutally attacked us and swears to do so again, along with their “supporters” worldwide.

    I KNOW, you will say such is not WAR it is “something else”, call it “only” terrorism. Well to me sworn enemies of our country that are willing to go to the effort to blow things up right here in River City need some really strong responses.

    By their own sworn allegencies alone have they in some way abdicated their legal rights as Americans? Is treason still treason and how should we treat the treasonuous?

    I will also note that if Obama vetos a bill with bipartisan support in such a matter, you and yours will have some real explaining to do in the coming year. I will be all ears but not yet ready to take a firm stand either way, again yet, but I sure am leaning in one direction.

    Anson

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  2. You wrote, missing the point:

    My point is WHAT IF, instead of charging the man with “terrorism” we charge him with TREASON??? Aidding and abetting the “enemy” which for damn sure Al Qaeda is today, small as it is now becoming,is our sworn enemy, is it not.

    The point is that there would be no “charges,” Anson. Indefinite detention is possible without even so much as a whisper of a charge and a prosecution before a judge or jury. Does that appeal to you? Huh?

    And I’m glad you mentioned the Japanese internment, one of the dark stains on our history.
    If you read about that period, and read some of the comments made by those in charge, you hear sort of the same things that you hear from some nuts today regarding Muslim Americans. Surely, we don’t have to go through that shit again, do we? We had to apologize (signed by Ronaldus Magnus) and pay reparations for that one.

    As for there being any opposition to the action at the time, are you kidding? What about the Japanese citizens themselves? And the governor of Colorado lost his job for objecting to it.

    In any case, if I were making anti-Anson bombs in my basement, there is a way to deal with me: arrest me, try me in court, and lock me up and throw away the key. But for God’s sake, in a country with a Constitution that includes the following, we shouldn’t be able to imprison someone without due process:

    The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 2)

    Duane

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  3. ansonburlingame

     /  December 2, 2011

    Good quote from the Constitution and good rebuttal, to a degree.

    NOW however, was in fact the NY bomber “rebelling” against the U.S. by making bombs saying he was use them? Do you think he was “tricked” into such ideas and acts? I don’t.

    No of course I do not believe we did right to lock up all Japanese in America. But SOME of them I sure would have done so and my “excuse” for such action would be rather slim in terms of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” in a court of law.

    So I would mobilize the FBI to watch very carefully the Japanese communities in America during WWII and some German American “sects” as well. And if some of them started down the path to active “rebellion” against the U.S. I would slam dunk their asses into a cell “for the duration”. Sure I would “charge” them as well just to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. But my objective would be to protect all other Americans from those that wish us harm and take ACTION to do so. And I would NOT wait for bombs to go off either to take them into custody during a “war”.

    I also see you “ducked” my question related to charging such people, charging them I say with TREASON and not fiddle dick around with other “nicer” or more less understood terms like “terrorism”.

    When someone SAYS they wish harm to America and then take ACTION to proceed down that path, well what else would you call “it”?

    It is for sure not a cut and dried issue and you see bipartisan sentiments leaning my way for now or so it seems.

    Anson

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  4. Anson,
    I realize I’m being a bit extreme here, perhaps egregiously so, but as I read your penultimate sentence, what ran through my mind was the Republicans’ saying that their top priority was to make Obama a one-term president, and then taking the actions of blocking as much of his efforts to lead our country as they possibly could, even when many of their actions are demonstrably harmful to US.

    Does that count as saying they “wish harm to America and then take[ing] ACTION to proceed down that path…” ?

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  5. ansonburlingame

     /  December 3, 2011

    Helen, please,

    That GOP statement is a POLITICAL statement to defeat an incumbent President. It is NOT TREASON for goodness sake.

    Now if the GOP Senate Minority leader made that statement and was calling for “bombing the White House”, well see the different?

    but even such a “statement” is protected by free speech. It is only when that GOP leader or his henchmen are caught building bombs to throw at 1600 PA Ave that some more concern and legal action might be called for.

    I DO believe that McConnels statement after the 2010 election was “dumb” and not very politically astute. But TREASONOUS, come on.

    As for the NY bomber, I don’t know enough details to be sure. But from what I have read is sure “seems” to be trying to aid and abet a wartime sworn enemby which by my definition is treason consisting of both words and ACTIONS. And I am not ready to wait for bombs to go off before locking his ass up real tight and in full accordance with good laws that outlaw treason.

    Anson

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  6. Anson,
    You said
    “That GOP statement is a POLITICAL statement to defeat an incumbent President. It is NOT TREASON for goodness sake.”

    I wasn’t suggesting that it is. I would fear for my country even more than I do now if such statements brought charges of treason.

    I was suggesting that your definition might be too broad, since a statement like the example I gave could fit into your definition.

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  7. ansonburlingame

     /  December 5, 2011

    Again Helen,

    Most reasonable people know treason when they see or hear it. In such matters for sure I consider myself “reasonable”. I am not at all in favor of locking up protestors, radical as they may be in speech, signs, etc and even to some degree “pushing” as a mob against a police barrier.

    Now fire bombing police, a la Greece, well it is against the law and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the laws. But again that is not TREASON or even “terrorism” in my view.

    But take such behavior too far and it starts to get into the grey area of aiding and abetting a sworn enemy through violence and actual intent to overthrow a government.

    The radical Muslim Iman in a local mosque can preach whatever he likes and be protected. But if he or his henchmen are building bombs in the basement, well there is the beginning of the grey area on treason, in my view. And we must find a constitutional way to protect ourselves from such “crazies”.

    Anson

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