America is One Signature away from a ‘Lawful’ Police State

After Senate Bill 1867, also known as the Indefinite Detention legislation made its way through the House of Representatives earlier this week and through the Senate tonight, Americans are that much closer to becoming legal enemies of the state.

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
December 15, 2011

On the way to a place called Police State America

UPDATE 12/16/11 12:00 S.1867 will also allow the Department of Defense to ‘lawfully’ wage war on the internet. The law will permit the government to attack cyber enemies. Congress confirms that the Pentagon has the capacity to, at the request of the president, will conduct cyberwar operations to “defend the Nation, Allies and other interests”. (1) the policy principles and legal regimes that the Department follows for kinetic capabilities, including the law of armed conflict; and (2) the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.). Read more on the cyber Police State here. END OF UPDATE

It is not new that run-away oppressive states tend to employ illegal practices by stealth before they implement them widely. The passage of legislation that partially or fully destroy constitutional and civil rights is simply the codification  of an already well established status quo. This happened many times in recent history, but people don’t learn from it because they ignore history.

The introduction and passage of S.1867 and its consequent approval by both the House and Senate of the once free and brave America is the completion of what those in power have been working on for decades; maybe more. S.1867 legalizes the apprehension, imprisonment and if necessary, torture and murder of anyone who the United States president decides poses a threat to the continuity of government. It just happens that this government is not the people’s government anymore, but His or Her government.Although president Barack H. Obama warned with vetoing the bill if it survived the legislative process, he back-pedaled on that threat in less than a month. But Obama did not warn senators and representatives about the veto because he thought it was illegal or unconstitutional to waive all the legal framework that kept America free and brave. He threatened with the veto because the passage of S.1867 would legally strain powers that the office of the president already possesses; or at least Obama thinks it does. “The White House explained it would veto the bill because these provisions, mandating military custody amount to a restriction of president’s authority,” explained John Glaser, assistant editor at on Russia Today television.

It was Senator Carl Levin, one of the sponsors of the approved bill, who explained on the Senate floor that it had been president Obama who had requested that S.1867 included Americans who lived in the United States in the bill, so that all of its provisions could also apply to them. The bill already contemplated applying its rules to Americans living abroad as well as anyone captured on American soil or overseas, who was deemed a terrorist. It was also Obama, who harshly criticized George W. Bush for what he called the illegal detention of people who were held without a formal accusation and were denied a proper trial. Obama also made it one of his campaign promises to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.

If S.1867 is signed by Obama into law, which could happen in the next 24 to 48 hours, it will give the  US military the power to “disappear” American citizens for crimes that will never be made public. “If you look carefully at this legislation, if you have a family or a friend who publicizes that you’ve disappeared they too can be detained. If anybody helps you with a taxi ride or attempts to give assistance to your family in the circumstances of your disappearance, they too can be detained. This is the architecture of the fascist state,” says radio host Ralph Schoenman.

One of the most contested parts of the bill, which was challenged by at least 40 senators, says that “Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force, includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons pending depositions under the law of war.” Exactly 220 years after the U.S. Bill of Rights was approved, the Senate voted 86-13 in favor of giving the president and the Army the powers described above. Adding insult to injury, Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, spoke on the Senate floor right after the vote tool place and said with a straight face that he hoped that his colleagues believed America was part of the battlefield in the fight against… well, he did not say who; and that from now on, anyone alleged to be in opposition to the United States would be the subject of military-style detention. Graham’s speech resembled that of George W. Bush, who after 9/11 publicly announced that those who did not stood by the side of the United States, would stand against it in the fight against what he called terror.

The difference between Bush’s and Graham’s speeches is that Graham’s did not specify who would be granted more attention as suspects of terrorism or of supporting terrorist groups. He left it more open, more vague. He said: “anyone alleged to be in opposition to the United States”. Will public protest be considered as opposition? Will publishing articles that oppose the government’s policies be deemed as opposition? What does the government deem as opposition? Only the president and the military know that. Indeed, what S.1867 does is to legitimize the president’s authority to indefinitely detain an individual who is deemed a threat. It recognizes that the president, whoever it is, can hold anyone label as an enemy combatant, no matter where they are captured. “…because that only makes sense,” said Senator Carl Levin. Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham further taunted the civil and constitutional liberties now being destroyed by saying that denying Americans their due process would make everyone less safe. “It would serve as an unprecedented threat to our constitutional liberties.”Lindsey Graham went further to attack America’s legal system as inadequate because it allowed alleged terrorists to be treated as common criminals.

Putting it simply, what S.1867 does is to militarize the United States of America, as citizens who oppose government will be met with all the might of the Armed Forces. Although no one expects the government to enforce the new legislation against a conservative radio talk show host, people who don’t maw their lawns or Occupy Wall Street protestors just yet, it is clear the U.S. government will make its case to begin enforcing it as soon as it has a chance. Obama will use the same military that he  commanded to war in Libya, without asking Congress to declare war, to catch fictitious terrorists who may have a plan -that no one will be able to verify- to blow a building or kill Americans.

As reported by Russia Today, under the legislation, a literal police state will be installed over the United States. Republican Congressman Ron Paul said earlier this week that “this should be the biggest news going right now,” as the legislation would allow for “literally legalizing martial law. This step where they can literally arrest American citizens and put them away without trial….is arrogant and bold and dangerous,” said congressman Paul.

None of the other Republican presidential candidates manifested their opposition to the indefinite detention bill. In fact, Newt Gingrich had already shown his support for practices that mirrored the provisions contained in the legislation just approved by Congress.

When a government gets away with capturing anyone without any proof that such person -citizen or not citizen- committed a crime; when it gives itself the prerogative to hold him/her indefinitely without a formal accusation; when it decides that is has the power to torture and murder because it considers it an effective measure to prevent or preempt a crime that has not happen, hope is lost. But worse than everything, when people let a government do all of this without a challenge; everything is lost.

Terror and the terrorists are everywhere and the world is the battlefield against them. That is both insane and clever. It is to prevent terror and terrorists from attacking us!, claim many willful ignorants. Al-Qaeda is everywhere and we need to be vigilant and protected!, claim the accomplices. That is why we must give away our human rights! We need to give liberty in exchange for security.

At our own peril! And if we do, we deserve everything we get!

Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 15 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Learn  more about Luis here.


Obama Drops Veto Threat as Indefinite Detention Bill is Voted

Paul J. Watson
December 15, 2011

Obama has dropped his threat to veto the bill and is now expected to sign it into law. Remember – it was Obama’s White House that demanded the law apply to U.S. citizens in the first place.

The bill which would codify into law the indefinite detention without trial of American citizens is about to be passed and sent to Obama’s desk to be signed into law, even as some news outlets still erroneously report that the legislation does not apply to U.S. citizens.

“The House on Wednesday afternoon approved the rule for the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), setting up an hour of debate and a vote in the House later this afternoon,” reports the Hill.

Mainstream news outlets like The Hill, as well as neo-con blogs like Red State, are still pretending the indefinite detention provision doesn’t apply to American citizens, even though three of the bill’s primary sponsors, Senator Carl Levin, Senator John McCain, and Senator Lindsey Graham, said it does during speeches on the Senate floor.

“It is not unfair to make an American citizen account for the fact that they decided to help Al Qaeda to kill us all and hold them as long as it takes to find intelligence about what may be coming next,” remarked Graham. “And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them, ‘Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.’”

As Levin said last week, it was the White House itself that demanded Section 1031 apply to American citizens.

Read Full Article…

In the U.S., Government wants to kill Fourth Amendment

Obama Administration working on legislation to hold suspects indefinitely without trial. Now we know what those ‘non-existent’ FEMA Camps are for.


It is starting to look like the president who campaigned on closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay may end up doing something wholly different: signing a law that would pave the way for terrorism suspects to be held indefinitely.

Administration officials are looking at the possibility at codifying detention without trial and are awaiting legislation that is supposed to come out of Congress early next year.

Analysts say two key events have conspired to force President Obama’s hand on indefinite detention legislation. Last week, a New York jury nearly acquitted Ahmed Ghailani, a young Tanzanian who was charged with more than 280 counts of murder and conspiracy for his alleged role in the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa; and Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in midterm elections.

Case Highlights Administration’s Dilemma

Obama administration officials had thought the Ghailani case would be a slam-dunk. Four other men were convicted of the same crime in the same New York federal court back in 2002.

But in this case, after five days of deliberation the jury convicted Ghailani of a single charge of conspiracy.

“The jury came within one count of acquitting him entirely,” says Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “And had that happened that would have put the government in an enormously difficult position because if you hold a trial and somebody is acquitted, it kind of violates our sense of what a trial is to say, well, we’re going to hold him anyway.”

Ghailani was never going to walk out of the courtroom a free man because the Obama Justice Department, from Attorney General Eric Holder on down, has made clear that if any high-profile terrorism suspects are acquitted, they will never go free. They would be held as enemy combatants instead.

Juan Zarate, a former deputy national security adviser in the Bush administration and now a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says that’s a huge problem. When prosecutors can hold someone behind bars even without proving their case the criminal trial becomes a show trial.

“When the attorney general is asked if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [the alleged Sept. 11 mastermind] or, in this case, Ghailani is acquitted, and the answer for all intents and purposes is he’ll remain in custody regardless of the verdict, that is a problematic answer in the context of the use of the criminal legal system,” Zarate says.

“Heads I win, tails you lose, is not the way our justice system is supposed to work,” he adds.

Possible Alternatives

If holding someone indefinitely as a fallback position is a bad idea, there are only a couple of alternatives. One is to try suspects in a military commission — which operates under different rules of evidence, although analysts are quick to say that the evidence that was barred from the federal trial in the Ghailani case probably wouldn’t have been admissible in a military commission either.

Another option is to imprison terrorism suspects without ever going to trial — to just hold them.

And that’s what lawmakers are looking at now. In August, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina quietly introduced a bill that would codify indefinite detention. He wanted to answer questions such as what kind of enemy combatant could be locked up without trial? How much evidence would government need to do that?

While the idea of holding suspects indefinitely without charge is against everything the American legal system stands for, it is happening already: Mohammed was captured in March 2003 and has been in Guantanamo Bay since September 2006.

What would be new are clear rules to govern the practice. Right now, the administration says that it can hold terrorism suspects under the laws of war, a principle that has been upheld by the courts. There is also some legal cover in the resolution Congress passed in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks that provides sweeping powers to the executive to keep America safe.

“We need a framework that is legal and defensible that balances the individuals’ rights with the right of the government to defend itself,” says Zarate. “The way the Obama administration has approached this has been less than clear. They have applied different legal frameworks for different problems and that has created confusion.”

Even if the Obama administration wanted to try low-level detainees in U.S. courts, it faces so much opposition from Congress it would be hard to do. And now, with the new Republican majority in the House, what was once very hard could become impossible.

That’s why analysts say that Obama, rather than close Guantanamo, will end up having to support a law that holds suspects indefinitely. As one administration official who is privy to the deliberations told NPR, “I can’t see a way around that outcome right now.”

Zarate says the mixed verdict in the Ghailani case shows that the administration needs to define detention better than it has. “The decision on signing legislation on indefinite detention may be crystallizing in certain ways, especially in the post-election environment,” he says. “They are going to begin to speak about it more publicly and more directly. I think in many ways they have already made this decision.”

Civil Liberties Groups Cry Foul

“It is un-American to hold people without charge or trial,” says Laura Murphy of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington office. “Codifying indefinite detention will end up legitimizing it.”

What, she asks, if the detainees suspected of terrorism are actually innocent? What kind of system would there be to determine that? Would there be any kind of judicial review? If this applies to terrorism now, she asks, how long before it applies to drug lords or human traffickers or organized crime?

Wittes of the Brookings Institution sees it differently. He says indefinite detention without rules, which essentially is what is happening now, should concern people more. Individual judges, U.S. attorneys and civil liberties lawyers are handling this on a case-by-case basis. And that is making the process murky.

“If your concern is not legitimizing it, lying about it is a very strange way to do that,” says Wittes. “And what we are doing is lying to ourselves about the detention which we engage in.”

Incoming House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas is working on a companion bill to Graham’s effort. His aides declined to provide any detail about legislation that is in the works.

And administration officials told NPR that they didn’t want to discuss the legislation before they actually see what’s in it.

What seems clear at this point, however, is that one of the things to come out of the new Congress is going to be something that deals squarely with detainee detention.

McCain Proposes Indefinite Detention Without Trial for Citizens

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has introduced a bill that would allow the President to imprison an unlimited number of American citizens (as well as foreigners)John McCain indefinitely without trial. Known as The Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010, or S. 3081, the bill authorizes the President to deny a detainee a trial by jury simply by designating that person an “enemy belligerent.”

The bill, which has eight cosponsors, explicitly names U.S. citizens as among those who can be detained indefinitely without trial:

An individual, including a citizen of the United States, determined to be an unprivileged enemy belligerent … may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners in which the individual has engaged, or which the individual has purposely and materially supported, consistent with the law of war and any authorization for the use of military force provided by Congress pertaining to such hostilities. [Emphasis added.]

Note that the Bush administration once said that the so-called “war on terror” would last a generation or more, and the U.S. military has officially classified many former Guantanamo detainees, such as England’s Tipton Three, as having “returned to the battlefield” for merely granting an interview for the movie The Road to Guantanamo. Another five innocent Uighur (Ethnic Turkish Muslims from China) detainees had been listed as having “returned to the battlefield” after their release because their lawyer had written an op-ed protesting their prolonged detention without trial after they had been mistakenly picked up by a greedy bounty hunter. Writing an opinion or speaking an opinion against the party in power in Washington can — and already has — made some people “enemy belligerents.”

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” and the Sixth Amendment stipulates the due process of law that all are required to receive:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

The requirement for a jury trial has no exceptions for military reasons, and doesn’t even exempt foreigners. It simply employs the phrase “all criminal prosecutions,” words that unequivocally apply to the military and civilian justice systems, as well as to both citizens and foreigners. The Founding Fathers truly applied Christ’s command to “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you,” but John McCain’s new bill wouldn’t even do to American citizens what we would assume were basic rights. There is no greater tyranny than indefinite imprisonment at the whim of an executive without legal recourse, and that is precisely what McCain and eight other senators would impose upon America.

McCain defended his bill in a speech on the Senate floor March 4, stating:

The legislation would authorize detention of enemy belligerents without criminal charges for the duration of the hostilities consistent with standards under the law of war which have been recognized by the Supreme Court. Importantly, if a decision is made to hold a criminal trial after the necessary intelligence information is obtained, the bill mandates trial by military commission where we are best able to protect U.S. national security interests, including sensitive classified sources and methods, as well as the place and the people involved in the trial itself.  More…