Posts Tagged ‘National Defense Authorization Act’

Retired Air Force officer exhorts Americans to challenge “Fortress America”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 11:06 am by

Reflecting on his 20 years of military service as a US Air Force officer, and noting the dramatic changes in both law & culture over the past decade, Lt. Colonel (ret.) William J. Astore wrote last week about the acquiescence of Americans to what he describes as “Fortress America.” In Uncle Sam Doesn’t Want You—He Already Has You, Astore exhorts Americans to challenge the national security state in order to preserve basic liberty principles.

Referencing young people who may not recall an era in which privacy was ever respected, he explains:

Many of the college students I’ve taught recently take such a loss of privacy for granted. They have no idea what’s gone missing from their lives and so don’t value what they’ve lost or, if they fret about it at all, console themselves with magical thinking—incantations like “I’ve done nothing wrong, so I’ve got nothing to hide.” They have little sense of how capricious governments can be about the definition of “wrong.”

Astore goes on to note the sycophancy of Hollywood, reflected in movies repeatedly glorifying US intelligence agencies despite their serial crimes, in sharp contrast to the films of the 1970s and 1980s that offered storylines and narratives more reflective of the agencies actual behavior.

He also takes on border security and police militarization:

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Report shows how surveillance state is fueled by money

Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 10:52 am by

On May 20, 2013, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and DBA Press released the results of an in-depth investigation into state surveillance of First Amendment dissent. Their report, “Dissent or Terror: How the Nation’s Counter Terrorism Apparatus, In Partnership With Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street,” details how state and regional “fusion center” personnel monitored the Occupy Wall Street movement over the course of 2011 and 2012.

Based on thousands of pages of records obtained from law enforcement agencies, the report cites documents that offer concrete evidence that surveillance has become an embedded feature of everyday American life. CMD’s findings reinforce the concerns of many activists that the surveillance state has grown far beyond its purpose of protecting America from “terrorist threats,” detailing the ways in which it serves to benefit corporate interests. This is no secret. As the debate over the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protect Act earlier this year emphasized, public and private intelligence sharing is the wave of the future.

Such information sharing happens in multiple ways.

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California Assembly Bill 351 passed nearly unanimously out of the State Assembly

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 4:03 pm by

No-NDAAThis week, the California State Assembly voted nearly unanimously to approve Assembly Bill 351 (AB351). The final tally was 71 in favor and 1 opposing. The law is the most recent in a string of state laws opposing indefinite military detention as allowed by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Art Persyko, an activist with the San Francisco 99% Coalition who put in tireless work to support AB 351, stated:

This is very exciting news for those of us in the SF 99% Coalition and our local allies who’ve been working to oppose the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA for the past year or so.  It’s great to see the California legislature stepping up and standing up for the civil liberties of everyone who lives in our state.  With this  vote for AB 351, and with our diverse statewide coalition of allies, I am now confident that we can get this bill through the Senate and onto the Governor’s desk for his signature.

The bill was pared down significantly from its original language, but the essential operative clauses were left in place. They added to the Penal Code the following language:
[N]o agency of the State of California, no political subdivision of this state, no employee of an agency, or a political subdivision, of this state acting in his or her official capacity, and no member of the California National Guard on official state duty shall knowingly aid an agency of the Armed Forces of the United States in any investigation, prosecution, or detention of a person within California . . .

The language specifically includes detention under the NDAA, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, and “any other federal law.” It also, unlike Senator Feinstein’s shoddy fix to the NDAA last year, protects all persons in California regardless of citizenship status.

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Letters to the president: Closing Guantanamo

Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 10:09 am by

EvidencePresident Obama’s 2009 promise to close down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, infamous for its flagrant denial of human rights, was met with much support throughout the United States and the world.  Human rights advocates throughout the world felt justice would finally be served by transferring and releasing detainees from the Guantanamo detention facility.  Individuals within the U.S. hoped that Obama’s promise to close the facility would re-solidify the country’s position as the self-proclaimed exemplar of moral and ethical leadership.

Unfortunately, four years later, Guantanamo remains open, still imprisoning detainees who are held without charge, and without access to judge or lawyer.  In January of 2012, several retired generals and admirals drafted a letter to President Obama urging the transfer of Guantanamo detainees cleared by the Task Force, under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Security Waver.  They write:

We recognize the political opposition you have faced in attempting to honor your commitment. Congress has repeatedly restricted your ability to transfer detainees held there who have been cleared for release. Congress has also restricted your authority to bring criminal suspects held at Guantanamo to justice in our time-honored federal criminal courts. However, despite these restrictions, we are asking you to act within the discretion available to you to move our nation forward in closing Guantanamo once and for all.

Political opposition (particularly in the House of Representatives) has been one of the defining challenges of Obama’s presidency, and while it is a legitimate hurdle, it does not excuse Obama’s unfulfilled promise to close Guantanamo.  The President must be held accountable as well.

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Montana Senate Committee Unanimously Votes to Approve Anti-NDAA Bill

Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 12:22 pm by

This post was written by Nick Sibilla, a BORDC summer 2012 intern.

This Wednesday, March 27, the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-0 in favor of HB 522, which bans indefinite detention under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 within the state of Montana.

Last month, the Montana state house voted 98-0 to prohibit state cooperation with federal officials who attempt to detain individuals within Montana under Sections 1021 or 1022 of the NDAA.  The bill now heads to the Senate floor for a full vote, which may occur as early as next week.

Supporters of the bill are very diverse, including the ACLU, the Tenth Amendment Center, Oath Keepers, and BORDC.  When the bill was heard in committee last week, no objections were raised.

Montana is just one of many jurisdictions that are rising up to counter the NDAA’s detention provisions. Bills aiming to restore Due Process have passed the state house in New Hampshire, as well as the state senates in Indiana, South Carolina, and Michigan, all by large margins.  Meanwhile, another dozen states are still considering restoring due process.

Most recently, Las Vegas passed a resolution condemning the NDAA.

NDAA resolution introduced in San Francisco, CA

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 10:33 am by

Yesterday, activists gathered on the steps of San Francisco’s city hall to oppose the indefinite military detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and to support the introduction of a resolution by Supervisor and President of the Board David Chiu. The resolution of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will uphold due process and articulate San Francisco’s opposition of the NDAA. Supervisor Chiu stated that the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA:

violate our fundamental right to our presumption of innocence. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

sup chiuIn addition to Supervisor  Chiu and Supervisor Jane Kim, speakers at the rally, mc’ed by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee,  included community leaders from a broad range of organizations. Karen Korematsu, civil rights activist and daughter of Fred Korematsu, emphasized the need to learn from the mistakes of history, pointing out  the similarities between the potential for indefinite military detention without trial to the tragedy of internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.  Her father is known for refusing to submit to internment, being convicted for his refusal, and challenging his conviction in Korematsu v. United StatesHe eventually had his conviction overturned, and continued to fight for civil liberties, including supporting the Arab, Muslim, and South Asian community as they were targeted in the wake of 9/11. His legal team filed an amicus in Hedges v. Obama, a case challenging the NDAA that is currently in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Rachel Roberts, civil rights coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco, told the crowd about the fear the specter of detention has spurred in her clients in the Muslim community.  Joe Nicholson, of the San Francisco 99% Coalition, reminded the crowd that the Constitution has no meaning without  concerned Americans to support it.

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Utah commemorates Korematsu Day

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 11:45 am by

On Friday, February 4th, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a declaration to officially make January 30th Fred Korematsu Day. For 40 years, Korematsu fought as the test case to stop the government’s unconstitutional internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Korematsu’s struggles included an appeal of a ruling that accounted for the detention of more than 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent, at locations including the Central Utah War Relocation Center in Topaz, Millard County. Two-thirds of this group were US citizens.

Gov. Herbert acknowledged the bravery and perseverance of Korematsu, who died March 30, 2005. He was just 23 years old when Ernest Besig, director of the San Francisco office of the ACLU, visited him and helped him start the fight for his rights. At the event Gov. Herbert discussed the unconstitutionality that Korematsu faced:

The declaration was wrong, the conviction was wrong, and under our Constitution, it shouldn’t have happened…He continued to fight for 40 years, and finally in 1983 had it overturned. That requires more than just a declaration, and having a Fred Korematsu Day is the least of what we can do for his great courage.

The director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education, Ling Woo Liu, expanded on the Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution bill in California. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed this bill, designating January 30th as Fred Korematsu Day in California.

A Japanese-American activist who famously defied domestic military detention during  World War II, Fred T. Korematsu was a man who held our government accountable to uphold the human rights as a priority, not just an ideal.

One way to expand remembrance of his example is to propose BORDC’s model resolution to restore due process, which includes a provision based on the CA and UT resolutions, to your city council or state legislature.

January 11th demonstrations against Guantanamo

Friday, January 11, 2013 at 9:40 am by

GuantanamoToday, January 11, 2013 is the 11-year anniversary of Guantanamo Bay detention center’s opening and also the day that a vast coalition of groups will unite to uphold human rights and to protest President Obama’s inaction.

President Obama ordered that Guantanamo prison should be closed within one year. That order was nearly four years ago, yet Guantanamo remains open with one hundred sixty six detainees. Although many detainees have been cleared for transfer from the center by the Obama administration, they continue to be denied justice. As President Obama enters his second term, he has not only ignored his promise, but has made it harder for detainees to be transferred by signing the National Defense Authorization Act’s provisions about Guantanamo.

Amnesty International is holding an event in Washington D.C. where one hundred sixty six individuals dressed in orange jumpsuits will meet at Noon to march from the Supreme Court to the White House. There is also the option to stream the demonstration live on Amnesty International’s website. Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace is holding a silent vigil at 10am and rally at 10:45am at Downtown Los Angeles Federal building. These demonstrations are just some of many that will be taking place throughout the United States.

Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, explains why the closing of Guantanamo is a concern for every American:

January 11 offers a sad reminder of our country’s flagrant disregard for justice — not only for Guantanamo detainees, but also for 300 million Americans subjected to separate systems of law here within the US. Our country loudly claims to be the land of the free, yet conducts pervasive domestic surveillance and imprisons more people than any other country on the planet. Meanwhile, torturers have escaped even mere investigation, and even draw lifetime paychecks on the federal bench! Justice, national security (which suffered due to torture), and the law all require prosecuting US human rights abuses to make sure they never happen again. With the NDAA offering our military the power to detain anyone without proof of crime, every American has a personal stake in this struggle.

These demonstrations demand that Guantanamo be closed, indefinite detention should be removed from the National Defense Authorization Act, and all detained individuals should be prosecuted fairly or released. The only way to gain accountability from the government and to stop torture and other abuses is to demand it.

 

Defense bill halts hope of closing Guantanamo Bay

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 9:25 am by

The promise that the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba would be closed is continuing to remain just a promise.

President Obama signed a defense bill on January 2nd that stresses stronger restrictions on the movement and transfer of detainees out of the center. The administration claimed he would veto the National Defense Authorization Act, but signed the bill into law anyway. The new defense legislation bans the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the United States for any reason. This new ban includes barring detainees from entering the United States even to merely attend trials in federal court.

The defense secretary also has a new set of guidelines and conditions that must be met before detainees can be returned to his or her country or a third party country.

The transfer process can only begin again with the Pentagon’s certification that is now required by Congress. However, this is unlikely to happen because of the political backlash that would be received. These new provisions continue to halt the justice system and detain individuals for unwarranted amounts of time. Eleven years is long enough to see that Guantanamo’s existence is destroying the way in which justice is enacted in the United States and tarnishing the importance of human rights.

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News Digest 1/4/13

Friday, January 4, 2013 at 5:00 pm by