How Congress Has Signed Its Own Arrest Warrants in the NDAA Citizen Arrest Bill
by Naomi Wolf
I never thought I would have to write this: but—incredibly—Congress has now passed the National Defense Appropriations Act, with Amendment 1031, which allows for the military detention of American citizens. The amendment is so loosely worded that any American citizen could be held without due process. The language of this bill can be read to assure Americans that they can challenge their detention — but most people do not realize what this means: at Guantanamo and in other military prisons, one’s lawyer’s calls are monitored, witnesses for one’s defense are not allowed to testify, and one can be forced into nudity and isolation. Incredibly, ninety-three Senators voted to support this bill and now most of Congress: a roster of names that will live in infamy in the history of our nation, and never be expunged from the dark column of the history books.
They may have supported this bill because—although it’s hard to believe—they think the military will only arrest active members of Al Qaida; or maybe, less naively, they believe that ‘at most’, low-level dissenting figures, activists, or troublesome protesters might be subjected to military arrest. But they are forgetting something critical: history shows that those who signed this bill will soon be subject to arrest themselves.
Our leaders appear to be supporting this bill thinking that they will always be what they are now, in the fading light of a once-great democracy — those civilian leaders who safely and securely sit in freedom and DIRECT the military. In inhabiting this bubble, which their own actions are about to destroy, they are cocooned by an arrogance of power, placing their own security in jeopardy by their own hands, and ignoring history and its inevitable laws. The moment this bill becomes law, though Congress is accustomed, in a weak democracy, to being the ones who direct and control the military, the power roles will reverse: Congress will no longer be directing and in charge of the military: rather, the military will be directing and in charge of individual Congressional leaders, as well as in charge of everyone else — as any Parliamentarian in any society who handed this power over to the military can attest.
Those who signed the bill don’t seem to know what’s in it, as this email from Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) makes clear:
From Bruce F.:
From: Senator Debbie Stabenow [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 4:48 PM
Subject: Re: Indefinite detention of American Citizens
|December 13, 2011
| Thank you for contacting me about detainee provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act. I share your support for protecting civil liberties, which is why I believe the government’s detainee policy should be codified in law.
I strongly believe that the President needs the power to keep Americans safe and that power should be used carefully and in accordance with the Constitution. Currently, the detainee policy is cobbled together from Presidential directives and Supreme Court cases. The policy has been developed ad-hoc since 2001, and is subject to change at the whim of a President. The National Defense Authorization Act only codifies into law what is currently U.S. policy.
I voted to ensure that only terrorists who are members of al-Qaeda and who commit an act of war against the United States can be detained. For the first time, detainees now have the right to a hearing before a judge with a defense lawyer present. The bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 93-7, also protects the right of habeas corpus. In addition, I voted for an amendment, which passed, explicitly stating that nothing in the bill shall be construed to affect existing law related to U.S. citizens, lawful resident aliens, or any other persons who are captured in the U.S.
Thank you again for contacting me. As always, please continue to keep me informed about matters of concern to you and your family.
United States Senator