On December 31 of 2011, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA). The law gives authority to the president to order the military to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without official charge or trial on the mere suspicion of being a terrorist or linked to a terrorist organization.
Since then, many have described the law as –
- …one of the most controversial bills into law since the Patriot Act
- This is treason on parade …
- Americans really don’t seem to really want Habeas Corpus anymore…
- Obama signs Martial Law bill …
- So This is How Liberty Dies
There are two elements to this worth mentioning.
First, the liberties and rights described by the COTUS creates the dichotomy between our moral obligation to protect life and the desire to protect those liberties and rights. These two values are at odds with one another. Without the former there is no latter. To borrow the phrase, it’s a question of whether we “piss on the Constitution”, or piss on life.
Second, the hyperbole should be self-evident. As yet, there is no evidence to suggest that we are about to begin a campaign to summarily round up citizens in the dark of night and throw them into some form of political labor camp. Yes, there is a threat, but I don’t see this country doing that to itself and to do so would mean we’ve actually learned nothing from the lessons given by Hitler, the internment of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor and our civil rights movement. It will be a test for this nation and will shed some light on the kind of people we are. It will also divide. On the one hand there will be those who believe we will be able to balance these opposing beliefs. On the other, there will be those who don’t.
This on-going argument has a simple resolution which I suspect will soon present itself. This question of whether we have the right to protect the lives of innocents by detaining terrorists intent of robbing us of our perceived liberties and freedoms will be put before the SCOTUS. If the court upholds this law in its current form, the test for this country begins.
Regardless of the outcome the forces in our gov’t (We the People) will and should continue to influence the likelihood of its existence. In other words, the current state of the law represents a point along the line of its existence and there are sufficient reasons to believe its existence will not be a permanent one.
(There is a bit of irony in the fact that McCain, a former POW who suffered at the hands of his captors is a proponent of this law. There is little doubt there is anyone more wary than he and I doubt he is throwing caution into the wind.)
At the end of the day, this is really only a distraction, drawing our attention away from the reason the bill was signed into law to brave the criticisms created by its affront to our Constitution. It should cause you to think about how we are going to defeat those reasons before it really gets ugly.