Liberty Preservation: The states say 'NO' to NDAA
Michael Boldin is the founder and executive director of the...
WASHINGTON, April 5, 2013 ― Just days ago, an anniversary passed which should never be forgotten. On April 1, 1942, an order was issued by Lt. General J.L. DeWitt which began the forced evacuation and “internment” of people of Japanese descent.
In the following three years, over 100,000 people, including US citizens, were “indefinitely detained” based solely on their racial (Japanese) background. This supposedly made them a threat to national security. Thousands of people of German and Italian descent got the same treatment.
Many lost everything. A few years later, when the federal government offered to pay claims for lost property, the average payout was a paltry $1392.
Much has been written about the horrors of internment during those years, so let’s not belabor the point. But today, when the federal government assumes some new power, those who point out how that power could very-well be abused in fantastic ways are often told, “That won’t happen here!”
April 1st should be a reminder to all of us. It already did happen here.
Unfortunately, the federal government has granted itself similar “indefinite detention” powers today. But the People have an opportunity to learn from history, and do something about it.
In states around the country, legislation is being considered which would severely hamper or even fully block any attempt to arrest and detain people without due process. In Michigan, Montana, Texas and California, votes are coming up soon to move such bills forward.
In December 2011, President Obama signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which gave the federal government the power to “indefinitely detain” people, including US citizens. No due process. No access to lawyers. And those who are detained have no idea if they’ll ever be set free.
This is the same kind of power which resulted in mass internment 71 years ago. In 1942, FDR exercised the power via executive order. The ACLU notes that the NDAA codified indefinite military detention into law for the first time in American history.
Although President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the NDAA’s detention provisions, his administration is vigorously defending these powers in federal court. Plaintiffs in that case include leading progressives such as Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky.
Last year, a federal judge temporarily struck down these detention powers and issued an injunction ordering the federal government to stop. The case is on appeal, and the powers remain in place while the case continues.
This fact should send chills up your spine: When Judge Forrest asked if the federal government was using indefinite detention during the period that the court ordered them not to, the administration’s attorneys flat-out refused to say they weren’t.
Last fall, Dianne Feinstein introduced an amendment to the 2013 NDAA which would have lessened these powers. It failed. Indefinite detention remains on the books.
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