Well this is scary, but doesn’t surprise me.
The Senate is set to vote on a bill today that would define the whole of the United States as a â€œbattlefieldâ€ and allow the U.S. Military to arrest American citizens in their own back yard without charge or trial.
â€œThe Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this presidentâ€”and every future president â€” the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself,â€ writes Chris Anders of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.
Under the â€˜worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trialâ€™ provision of S.1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which is set to be up for a vote on the Senate floor this week, the legislation will â€œbasically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield,â€ said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who supports the bill.
The bill was drafted in secret by Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), before being passed in a closed-door committee meeting without any kind of hearing. The language appears in sections 1031 and 1032 of the NDAA bill.
â€œI would also point out that these provisions raise serious questions as to who we are as a society and what our Constitution seeks to protect,â€ Colorado Senator Mark Udall said in a speech last week. One section of these provisions, section 1031, would be interpreted as allowing the military to capture and indefinitely detain American citizens on U.S. soil. Section 1031 essentially repeals the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 by authorizing the U.S. military to perform law enforcement functions on American soil. That alone should alarm my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but there are other problems with these provisions that must be resolved.â€
This means Americans could be declared domestic terrorists and thrown in a military brig with no recourse whatsoever. Given that the Department of Homeland Security has characterized behavior such as buying gold, owning guns, using a watch or binoculars, donating to charity, using the telephone or email to find information, using cash, and all manner of mundane behaviors as potential indicators of domestic terrorism, such a provision would be wide open to abuse.
â€œAmerican 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?â€ asks Anders.
The ACLU is urging citizens to call their Senator and demand that the Udall Amendment be added to the bill, a change that would at least act as a check to prevent Americans being snatched off the streets without some form of Congressional oversight.