On December 14, 2011 President Obama thanked our troops at Ft. Bragg, N.C. for all their fine service and capped off the cheers with, "God bless you all, God bless your families, and God bless the United States of America." The very next day a nearly unanimous multimillionaire Senate and a House count of 283-136 codified the National Defense Authorization Act that effectively overrides the Constitution and cancels our Bill of Rights. It is what George Washington University Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley calls, "... one of the greatest rollbacks of civil liberties in the history of our country." It was also a highly charged symbolic gesture since that day was the 220th anniversary of the ratification of America's Bill of Rights.
Put simply, the NDAA declares that America is in a global war on terror and designates America as an international battlefield so that all citizens and residents alike are now subject to indefinite military detention, interrogation and execution without charge, representation or trial. It also eliminates any need for the president or his military to justify, prove or account for their actions or the fate of those detained. And this, while the rest of us either slept or partied the night away, is what President Obama signed into law on December 31, 2011.
So, as a free-born American with a dedicated belief in and reverence for the Constitution of the United States I am forced into a quandary and am left to ask, What now, is America without its Constitution? What now, is an American without our Bill of Rights--both of which were expressly written to provide and defend American liberty during all times of peace and war? Furthermore, how does this uphold the Presidential Oath of Office to defend and protect the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic? Has America been disappeared?
I ask because the only other countries that practice the indefinite detention of its citizens without trial include nations such as Myanmar that has held its elected General Secretary, Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for over twenty years. Another one is our ally, Saudi Arabia that just last month beheaded a woman who was accused of witchcraft. China, our most favored trading partner, regularly arrests and imprisons its citizens on suspicion of anti-state sentiments. Other countries that have fallen into this category are: North Korea, Castro's Cuba, Pinochet's Chile, Hitler's Germany, and Stalin's Russia.
It was our third president, Thomas Jefferson who said, "When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." I will not argue against that assertion nor will I question Obama's sincerity when he says that his administration will not authorize the disappearance of American citizens, though he already has. However, it is not the use but the right to use such powers that defines a totalitarian system. What about the next president or the one after?
Martin NiemÃ¶ller was a German pastor and theologian who was liberated from Dachau by the allies in 1945. He is known for the following piece of poetry that has become a model for describing the dangers of political apathy:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.