You’re Under Arrest!

You’re Under Arrest!

The National Defense Authorization Act

by L. J. Martin

Is the camel’s nose under the edge of the tent?  It’s been my experience that the law is an octopus, continually reaching to encompass, to strangle, more and more of our lives and freedoms.  Lawmaking bodies, from the local planning commission to the U. S. Congress, need to justify their existence; it seems they never justify it by removing past laws, only by ever increasing laws and regulations that are slowly consuming every aspect of American freedom.  Every other year Congress should meet to review and remove useless and ineffective, and interfering, laws and regulations, and no new laws should be allowed to be entertained.  Regulation is the cancer killing America.

Even Marco Rubio (R-FL) came out in favor of this “National Defense” bill, which allows the military, the administration, WORLDWIDE power to pick up persons and hold them for indefinite detention without charge or trial…a bill drafted behind closed doors by Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed (the Senate) without a single hearing.  And worldwide, of course, includes the U.S.A.

The bill authorizes the U.S. Military to detain U. S. citizens, and not merely citizens in a foreign country.  I can’t help but believe that this is a basic shift in all this country has stood for, was founded for, and a real threat to our future freedoms. And appears to me to be in direct violation of the 6th Amendment, but who’s paying any attention to the U. S. Constitution these days?

I quote Spencer Ackerman of Wired magazine:

So despite the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a right to trial, the Senate bill would let the government lock up any citizen it swears is a terrorist, without the burden of proving its case to an independent judge, and for the lifespan of an amorphous war that conceivably will never end. And because the Senate is using the bill that authorizes funding for the military as its vehicle for this dramatic constitutional claim, it’s pretty likely to pass.

Marco Rubio defends the act:

Section 1031 of this act merely affirms the authority that the president already has to detain certain people pursuant to the current Authorization for Use of Military Force; in fact, this same section of the bill specifically states that nothing stated in Section 1031 is intended to expand the president’s power.  In addition, this section sets specific limits on who can be detained under this act to only those people who planned or helped carry out the 9/11 attacks on the United States or people who are a member of, or substantially support, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or their respective affiliates.  There is no language that could possibly be construed as repealing the Posse Comitatus Act and allowing the US military to supplant your local police department in carrying out typical law enforcement activities.

I am not an attorney, but I’ve worked with words and their definitions most my life.  And I would flag the words certain people, specific limits, or substantially support, and or their respective affiliates.  And I’m sure there are a thousand or so words in this bill that are open to interpretation.

As much as I respect John McCain and his past in the military, I no longer trust his judgment.  I think he miserably failed all conservatives in this country with his performance in his bid for the presidency.  He did not speak up on the real issues facing the country and his attack against Obama consisted of backpedaling.  It has been said that the best defense is a good offense, and I saw little if any offense coming from the McCain camp.  And he’s failed, and offended, the U. S. Constitution with this bill.

Since 1878 this country has specifically excluded the military from acting within its borders without specific authorization of congress (credit to Wikipedia):

The Posse Comitatus Act is the United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385) that was passed on June 18, 1878, after the end of Reconstruction. Its intent (in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807) was to limit the powers of local governments and law enforcement agencies from using federal military personnel to enforce the laws of the land. Contrary to popular belief, the Act does not prohibit members of the Army from exercising state law enforcementpolice, or peace officer powers that maintain “law and order“; it simply requires that any orders to do so must originate with the United States Constitution or Act of Congress….

….As of December 3 2011, the Posse Comitatus Act is under threat of repeal from the National Defense Authorization Act.[4]

Rubio went on to maintain that the act does NOT overturn the Posse Comitatus Act:

Together, these two sections do the following: they affirm the authority of the executive branch to act within our national interest and they provide the federal government with the tools that are needed to maintain our national security.  This bill does NOT overturn the Posse Comitatus Act; the military will not be patrolling the streets.  This bill does not take away your rights as a citizen or lawful permanent resident; the authority under this act does not take away one’s habeas rights.  These sections do NOT take away an individual’s rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, nor do they take away one’s due process rights afforded under the 5th or 14th.  If this bill did such a thing, I would strongly oppose it.

How can the bill give authority to the administration, the president, to act to insert the military into our streets and not be in violation of the Posse Comitatus act, which specifically called for the approval of congress, an ACT OF CONGRESS, and made no mention of the administration?

The nose of this camel is under the edge of our tent of freedom, and I fear, despite its conservative support, is among the worst pieces of legislation ever to creep through the doors of Congress…let’s hope it doesn’t slither out.

L. J. Martin is the author of 30 books and his articles appear in dozens of national publications.  He writes the conservative blog  He lives in Montana with his wife, and NYT bestselling fiction author who’s internationally published.  For more see

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