As soon as Barack Obama signs the legislation passed by Congress, you can be arrested by the government on mere suspicion of “terrorist” wrongdoing and sent to a military prison — with no rights and no ability to demand a trial. Is there any more certain signal that we’ve become a police state?
The people who supported the bill claim that it won’t do anything other than formalize what is already recognized as a president’s power to detain people on mere suspicion. They claim this power is somehow needed in the “war on terror.” (Have you ever noticed that the things the government does starting with “war on” never end? There was the “war on poverty,” the “war on drugs,” the “war on terror.” Maybe the real target of these wars is us.)
The White House has said that Obama will sign the legislation, even though he claims he doesn’t want the expanded power to detain people without trial. In fact, he claims he won’t use the power. I assume he has good intentions on that point. But what happens when the next terror attack happens and there’s political pressure on a president to “do something”? It will be too late then.
Unlike many people, I don’t see this as a secret plot by Obama or anyone else to bring about a police state. I think it’s the work of people who believe they’re doing the right thing and don’t understand the unintended consequences that can come from their reckless and irresponsible actions. Their good intentions aren’t going to help you, though, when you’re being arrested and sent to prison indefinitely without trial — simply because someone made a mistake and thought you did something wrong.
The fact that the Democratic-controlled Senate passed the bill and a Democratic president will sign it tells you everything you need to know about the difference between Democrats’ rhetoric about civil rights and the reality when it suits their purposes. I’ve talked before about the hypocrisy of Republicans who talk about smaller government at election time, but increase the size of government. This is the corresponding indictment of the other mainstream party.
To their credit, the major civil liberties groups aren’t going along with their party and president on this one. The executive director of Human Rights Watch placed a major portion of the blame on a president who is a hypocrite:
“By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in U.S. law. In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side.”
Although it’s two weeks old now, it’s worth watching again as U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) explains to the Senate the real problem with the bill it was passing. And if you’re one of those people who believe the government doesn’t make stupid errors when arresting Americans on terror charges, remember again the case of Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon attorney who was arrested in connection with bombings in Spain in 2004 — although he never had anything even vaguely to do with the case.
As I said when the Senate passed this monstrous piece of legislation, this is eerily reminiscent of the German parliament passing the Enabling Act in 1933, the law which allowed Adolph Hitler to legally rule as he pleased. This legislation obviously doesn’t go that far, but it seems like the next step down a very dark road that leads to prison camps in Nazi Germany and in the former Soviet Union.
Even though it’s a gross oversimplification and gross misunderstanding of recent world history, we’ve been told for a decade that “the terrorists hate us for our freedom.” If that’s so, the terrorists have definitely won, because they’re succeeding in stampeding U.S. politicians into destroying those freedoms one by one — while most Americans blissfully avoid the painful duty of thinking for themselves.