Why would the Oath required by law to be sworn by US officers recognize a class of criminals, "domestic enemies" of the "United States Constitution," if there were no such thing? Now Chris Anders, Legislative Counsel for the ACLU writes:
The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing....
Anders warns us that the worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which is scheduled for a Senate vote on Wednesday, November 30.
The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield -- even people in the United States itself. Senators need to hear from you, on whether you think your front yard is part of a "battlefield" and if any president can send the military anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial.
Addressing a disinformation campaign aimed at convincing people that American citizens are exempt, Anders takes strong exception and explains:
Don't be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1013 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens.
Sen. Lindsey Graham put it as bluntly as it could be put on the Senate floor:
"1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland."
In an unusual closing of ranks, many conservative websites have picked up and run the ACLU Alert either verbatim or as part of their own action alerts. ConservativeByte.com in "Senate Moves To Allow Military To Arrest Americans Without Charge Or Trial" writes:
The Senate is set to vote on a bill today that would define the whole of the United States as a "battlefield" and allow the U.S. Military to arrest American citizens in their own back yard without charge or trial.
Translation: this is not a liberal or conservative thing. This is an American thing.
In support of the bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that the bill will "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." Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) declared that the bill is needed because "America is part of the battlefield."
Anders in his legislative alert asks a good question: Why now?
Hasn't anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too? And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?
Although Obama has threatened to veto the bill over the provision, this is not the first time McCain has revealed his totalitarian, un-American impulses. Last year he was lead sponsor S. 3081 which outlined the process by which Americans may be held indefinitely, without notice of their Miranda Rights, and without ever being charged with a crime, after being arrested in their own country. Due to popular outcry, the bill never became law.
What today's action tells us is that this was not a one-off by McCain and whatever anti-Constitution gang he can round up at the moment. He will keep trying until this president or another one signs it. The ACLU is recommending people lobby their senators to support the Udall Amendment which will delete the harmful provisions and replace them with a "requirement for an orderly Congressional review of detention power."