Monday, December 12, 2011

It Can't Happen Here?

Maybe it’s already happening.

There was a Senate vote last Thursday on the National Defense Authorization Act, which is supposed to be just an appropriation bill to fund the military. But it also contains two controversial provisions: one authorizing the president to detain any American citizen he considers a terrorist indefinitely without evidence and without trial; the other transferring jurisdiction over any and all terrorism cases from civilian to military authorities.

The vote was 97-3, with the only opposition coming from three Democrats: Mark Udall and Diane Feinstein, both of whom tried vainly to have the bill amended to eliminate the two toxic provisions, and Bob Menendez. The bill was co-sponsored by a Democrat, Carl Levin, and John McCain. Levin and all the other Democrats and every Republican voted for it. Supposedly the administration opposes the measure, and President Obama is said to be ready to veto it. But now a video has surfaced online, in which Senator Levin himself claims that the administration actually requested the provisions he and McCain put in the bill:

Now if this were just somebody like Glenn Beck or Ariana Huffington sounding off, we could dismiss the story as a paranoid fantasy. But this is apparently coming from Levin himself, and there isn’t any sign that the video has been doctored to make him appear to be saying something he isn’t. That’s scary.

What’s also scary is that so-called “progressives” as well as conservatives seem to be lining up in favor of what amounts to potential imposition of a police state and martial law – this only a few years after Democrats denounced George Bush and Dick Cheney for abuses like the legalization of torture for alleged terrorists detained at Guantanamo. It didn’t take long for Obama to reverse course on keeping Guantanamo open and leaving prosecution of foreign terrorists to military tribunals instead of civilian courts. But the NDAA would explicitly extend the same system to U.S. citizens.

Are the Democrats so afraid of being labeled wusses by the Republicans that they have caved in on so fundamental a violation of constitutional rights? And why is it that both parties are so hot for this right now, as if they thought the outcome of 2012 election were a foregone conclusion and that it will thus surely be their man in the White House who’ll get to decide who’s a “terrorist?” One can imagine the Republicans fantasizing about rounding up the Occupy Wall Street people, and Democrats fantasizing about rounding up the Tea Party crowd. But how can they possibly fantasize today about which oxen will be gored and who will get to do the goring?

Even if their motives aren’t so vile, even if they really believe they are only doing what is necessary to win the war on terror, it will be a sad day for America if this atrocious act becomes law,

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