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Indefinite Domestic Military Detentions

By Stephen Lendman | The People’s Voice | November 28th, 2011

Congress is now considering legislative language to mandate indefinite military detentions of US citizens suspected of present or past associations with alleged terrorist groups, with or without evidence to prove it. More on that below.

The 2006 Military Commissions Act authorized torture and sweeping unconstitutional powers to detain, interrogate, and prosecute alleged suspects and collaborators (including US citizens), hold them (without evidence) indefinitely in military prisons, and deny them habeas and other constitutional protections.

Section 1031 of the FY 2010 Defense Authorization Act contained the 2009 Military Commissions Act (MCA). The phrase “unprivileged enemy belligerent” replaced “unlawful enemy combatant.”

Language changed but not intent or lawlessness. Obama embraces the same Bush agenda, including keeping Guantanamo open after promising to close it, allowing torture there and abroad, and treating US citizens as lawlessly as foreign nationals.

MCA grants sweeping police state powers, including that “no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause for action whatsoever….relating to the prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission (including) challenges to the lawfulness of (its) procedures….”

MCA scraped habeas protection (dating back to the 1215 Magna Carta) for domestic and foreign state enemies, citizens and non-citizens alike.

It says “Any person is punishable… who….aids, abets, counsels, commands, or procures,” and in so doing helps a foreign enemy, provide “material support” to alleged terrorist groups, engages in spying, or commits other offenses previously handled in civil courts. No evidence is needed. Those charged are guilty by accusation.

Other key provisions include:

  • legalizing torture against anyone, letting the president decide what procedures can be used on his own authority;
  • denying detainees international law protection;
  • letting the executive interpret or ignore international and US law;
  • letting the president convene “military commissions” at his discretion to try anyone he designates an “unprivileged enemy belligerent,” detaining them indefinitely in secret;
  • denying speedy trials or none at all;
  • letting torture coerced confessions be used as evidence in trial proceedings, despite US and international law prohibiting cruel and inhuman treatment at all times, under all conditions, with no allowed exceptions;
  • letting hearsay and secret evidence be used; and
  • denying due process and judicial fairness overall.

On May 21, 2009, Obama addressed national security and civil liberties issues, including Guantanamo detainees, military commissions, and torture.

Saying his “single most important responsibility as president is to keep the American people safe,” he bogusly claimed Al Qaeda “is actively planning to attack us again (and) this threat will be with us for a long time….”

He added that uncharged detainees “who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people” (with or without evidence to prove it) will be held indefinitely without trial.

Obama’s March 7, 2011 Executive Order authorized military commission trials for Guantanamo detainees with revamped procedures, despite pledging to close the prison.

Congress Considers New Freedom-Stripping Legislation

On October 17, 2011, the ACLU addressed Section 1031 of S. 1253: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, saying it “significantly curtails existing protections against indefinite detention without charge or trial.”

It goes beyond previous laws by hardening them extrajudicially.

The last time Congress authorized indefinite detentions for uncharged US citizens without trial was in 1950. The Emergency Detention Act provision of the Internal Security Act authorized incarceration for those considered likely to commit espionage or sabotage.

It was never used, then repealed by the 1971 Non-Detenton Act, stating:

“No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress.”

At issue was never again subjecting US citizens to lawless internment the way Japanese Americans were treated in 1942, forcing loyal citizens into War Relocation Camps.

Section 1031 of S. 1253 “would be the first exception to the statute’s protections.” Subsection (d) provides US citizens “little or no” indefinite detention protections domestically or abroad.

The provision refers solely to “citizens or lawful resident aliens of the United States.” However, the Constitution fully protects them.

“Section 1031 could cause cleared naturalized United States citizens and cleared immigrants to be sent to a foreign country, even in the absence of any wrongdoing.”

Subsection (c) provides four options:

  • indefinite detention without charge;
  • military commission trials;
  • trial by another tribunal; or
  • transfer “to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.”

Even someone erroneously arrested and cleared of wrongdoing could be held indefinitely without charge, given non-civil trials, or sent abroad.

Post-9/11, Arab and/or Muslim Americans lawlessly experienced “roundups” because of their faith and ethnicity. Latino immigrants face similar abuse.

Section 1031 would authorize similar practices. Military forces could be used. US citizens would be terrorized, detained and held indefinitely without charge or trial, based solely on suspicions, baseless allegations or none at all.

No reasonable proof is required, just suspicions that those detained pose threats. Under subsection (b)(1), indefinite detentions can follow mere membership or support for suspect organizations.

US citizens at home and abroad could be detained. Presidents would have unchecked authority to arrest, interrogate and indefinitely detain law-abiding citizens if accused of potentially posing a threat.

Constitutional, statute and international law won’t apply. Martial law will replace it. As a result, anyone for any reason or none at all could be indefinitely detained for life without charges or trial.

Section 1031 exceeds the laws of war. Its ambiguities and excesses would institute extrajudicial national security state terror. No one anywhere would be safe.

It calls “covered persons” anyone captured or detained, even unconnected to hostilities. In other words, the executive could order anyone indefinitely incarcerated on his say alone. The provision would exceed current presidential authority.

Like the companion House bill, detention would be authorized based on alleged prior associations with suspect groups. US military personnel anywhere in the world would be able to seize US citizens and others.

Anyone could be incarcerated for life with no possibility for redress. Section 1032 requires suspects held in military custody, outside constitutionally mandated civil protections.

Due process and judicial review won’t apply. Police state lawlessness could terrorize anyone suspected of terrorist group ties without proof.

In other words, presidents could order anyone imprisoned for life without cause. Despotic regimes operate this way. So would America more extrajudicially than ever.

Tyranny will replace constitutional law. Middle of the night arrests could become common. No one anywhere would be safe, including unjustly accused citizens.

The ACLU calls indefinite detention without judicial review “an appalling abuse of power. We know that our government has already mistakenly detained hundreds of people on suspicion of terrorism over the past 10 years.”

“Many have languished in custody for years with no way to even assert their innocence or address the evidence against them. All people are entitled to due process.”

Imagine new likely power abuses, including claiming OWS protesters threaten America.

Imagine human and civil rights workers, as well as anti-war activists targeted.

Imagine anyone challenging wealth and power interests at risk.

Imagine an America more than ever not fit to live in, and nowhere to hide.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

November 28, 2011 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance

9 Comments »

  1. A Nation of sheep breeds a Government of Wolves.

    Comment by B.Benhamid | November 28, 2011 | Reply

  2. Nothing will save America.Just look at “Black Friday” as people were killing each other over useless crap they don’t need, not giving a damn whats going on in the rest of the world and the fact were on the verge of World War f#%$ing 3 which is being done for the creation for Greater Israel.This is the sorry state of America folks.

    As for this law,Arabs,Muslims,Blacks,Hispanics have been going through this insanity and no one gave a $hit but now these very same people who supported this injustice against us are now in a panic because it includes them as well.All I can say is welcome to our world.Now you know how it feels like to be one of us.

    Comment by Adalberto Erazo | November 28, 2011 | Reply

  3. Blaming the victims is not the solution! Blame the tyrants and their fawning acolytes. This Obama is the poster boy for tyranny, the great usurper; it is fair to say those who unwittingly defend his criminality and arrogance of power, need to be wised-up, and not be dismissed as “being entitled to their opinion” when they are aiding and abetting state terrorism and treason.

    Those who understand, have to muster the courage of their convictions as Stephen Lendman so gallantly has proven by his journalism with this article, as he has done time and again, undaunted by the odious threats by Obama and his like-minded predecessors in the presidency.

    Caligula suddenly comes to mind as the prototype and it took a senator I believe to end his reign of terror, if history repeats itself during the State of the Union address, millions will cry and millions will sigh. And the difference is the myth and the man, respectively.

    The only venue we have is each other on and off line; and that before the next general election 11 months from now. Speak now, or they will be holding you, if you hold your “peace” now!

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | November 29, 2011 | Reply

  4. I have just responded to an appeal regarding this issue, which went (in large type) like this:

    WRONG!

    The headline should read:

    Stop Indefinite Detention
    of ANYONE Without Due Process

    Comment by Anthony Lawson | November 30, 2011 | Reply

    • Anthony,

      I think that you are referring to an article that originated with the John Birch Society titled:

      Stop Indefinite Detention of U.S. Citizens Without Due Process

      http://www.themoralliberal.com/2011/11/29/stop-indefinite-detention-of-u-s-citizens-without-due-process/

      The editorial position at Aletho News is that human rights apply to all.

      Comment by aletho | November 30, 2011 | Reply

      • Correct, but the headline in question came to me via CCW-On Target, as e-mail content.

        Of course I realise that at Aletho News human rights apply to all; I just wanted to pass this on as a not-so-subtle example of the way in which the International Bureau of Double Standards operates.

        Unfortunately, many people would find nothing wrong with a headline that is so selective. As often happens when war casualties are listed, the numbers of dead and wounded of the attackers are mentioned, but not the dead and wounded of those who were attacked.

        Take care and keep up the good work.

        Comment by Anthony Lawson | November 30, 2011 | Reply

        • I find this rather interesting in that while we find the John Birch Society and many progressive liberal types standing alongside us in opposition to this legislation, we stand apart on the question of universality while the Birchers and progressives are both complacent with this particular deprivation of rights as applied to non-citizens.

          Comment by aletho | November 30, 2011 | Reply

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