Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Senate is voting on what would become Police State measures on American Soil

I recently received this message from the organization Downsize DC. Be worried, be very worried.


The U.S. Senate is about to take some law enforcement powers from the Justice Department, and give greater policing powers to the Department of Defense. These policing powers can (and will) be used on American soil. It appears that, under just two small sections of the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1867). . .

1. American citizens and lawful resident aliens, could be held, INDEFINITELY, jailed.
2. Other persons can be DISAPPEARD by the military, without benefit of habeas corpus or trial. And worse...
3. These other persons can also be shipped off to a foreign judicial system that might deliver a result the Justice Department wants.

The sponsors of this bill claim that this bill contains no new powers -- that they're merely codifying the behavior of two (renegade) administrations.

Yet two of the bill's Senate backers admit there is a new power: The ability of the military to engage in police work on American soil -- Posse Comitatus be damned.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who backs the bill, indicated that the bill "basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield" and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial "American citizen or not." Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also declared that the bill is needed because "America is part of the battlefield."

Here's a link to a copy of the two offending sections, 1031 and 1032, which must be removed by amendment.

In 1031 the Federal State gains the power of indefinite imprisonment without trial. In 1032, American citizens and lawful resident aliens must be given civilian jails for their potentially permanent stays, and cannot be shipped off for a show trial by a convenient foreign power.

The sponsors of this bill, Senators Levin and McCain, are forgetting their Article I role as a protection against an overreaching and potentially tyrannical Executive Branch, and are instead rapidly inventing powers for that branch. They're trading Liberty for Security because we've become so scared of the boogeyman.

We should stop being so cowering and fearful. We should tell Congress, loud and clear, "I Am Not Afraid."

And the debate is occurring as I write this, Monday afternoon.

Why are we getting this crucial information to you so late?

There are lots of things to monitor. DownsizeDC.org doesn't have the staff to follow all of it. Not many groups do. The Federal Leviathan is a large, unwieldy organization that moves in criminally clandestine ways. We've addressed this fact . . .

* This bill is over 600 pages long, and even according to its sponsors, covers a wide variety of issues. Something as important and unique as criminal justice should not be part of a military authorization bill, but should be the subject of its own bill, consistent with DownsizeDC.org's"One Subject at a Time Act."

* And these offending sections of this bill didn't come to light until the ACLU published an article about it on the day before Thanksgiving. http://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/Carl%20Levin We found out about that article on Friday night. Every bill should be published online, after the entire bill has been read aloud to the Congress, for at least seven days before its final vote. These provisions of DownsizeDC.org's "Read the Bills Act" would give watchdog groups and media personalities time to digest and disseminate the information to you, with sufficient time to register your dissent.

When we first read 1031 and 1032, we didn't understand them fully. We believe due diligence is important. We wanted to make sure that WE were telling the truth, not someone else's incomplete opinion or ill-advised version. That's one reason you read the Downsizer-Dispatch, isn't it?

But it was hard to find adequate help to understand how these sections related to each other, on a holiday weekend -- a weekend where our staff was also, "over the river and through the woods."

We didn't figure out how these sections related to each other until today.

Usually, we prepare our Dispatches the evening in advance, and sometimes even days earlier. Why? Because we want to be sure they're properly researched, accurate, and tightly written. We don't ever want to waste your time.

But you're reading something, today, that's been written in a hurry, just moments before it hit your inbox.
I cannot express, in polite words, how frustrated I am with the Senate Armed Services Committee, which brought this bill to the floor. Nor can I quantify how much it has bothered me, this weekend (when I should've been enjoying myself), that we might not be able to get this seemingly crucial news to you.

One sacrifice I've had to make in this hurriedly sent Dispatch is that there's insufficient time to write a sample letter. In this Dispatch, we've linked to the,

* The "I Am Not Afraid" campaign
* The "One Subject at a Time Act" campaign
* The "Read the Bills Act" campaign

You can borrow from the points we've made in this message, and send an appropriate message from each of these campaigns. I hope you will.

But even more important, if you're logged in, you can refer to Your Downsize DC Toolbox, on the home page of the DownsizeDC.org, on the link above your state map, labeled "District Information," and you'll see the phone numbers of your two Senators.

* Make a brief note of what you want to say so that your thoughts are organized.
* Be polite but firm, and be sure to identify yourself as a constituent.
* Be especially sure to tell them to remove Sections 1031 and 1032 from S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act, which has been placed on the Senate calendar. 
* Then, call the numbers we provide on that page and give whoever answers your message.

Thank you for your prompt action,

Jim Babka
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

P.S. By the way, both the Justice Department and the Defense Secretary oppose these provisions, and find them unhelpful. The President has even hinted at vetoing the bill, meaning we can win if we act.