Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Begin with this: Police State questions and concerns are far bigger than Barack Obama, as they were far bigger than George W. Bush. The questions are larger than Republicans vs. Democrats party fights. In general, as long as we play by the Us / Them framing from above, we don’t challenge the joined-at-the-Citizens-United-hip Duopoly who work together and count on us to play by the rules and within the familiar framing that keep them in power. Questions of homeland security, of police state movements, of “caging” and other restrictions, of surveillance of citizens, of indefinite detentions … all are the responsibility of both political parties.
There are multiple groups and organizations working to track the instances of what is seen as decisions and actions made at all levels of government which are moves toward if not instances of a “police state” reality. Obviously there are degrees of credibility in what is reported, and of course, we’ll each draw our own conclusions.
This will be a three part post. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a good starting point. In Part II, I’ll take a look at “The Nation’s ‘Biggest Spy Center,’” and in Part III, at “On the Street Level” actions.
At OWS, “March in Support of the NDAA Lawsuit”:
March 29th marks the beginning of the anti-NDAA class action lawsuit, launched by several groups and individuals, that seeks to stop the unconstitutional provisions which allow the US military to indefinitely detain any suspected ‘terrorist’ from going into effect … .
… the first round of plaintiffs, dubbed the Freedom Seven, will testify in front of a federal judge. We must show solidarity, and we must show our discontent with an authoritarian piece of legislation that destroys our civil liberties.
The seven plaintiffs are suing Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, House Speakers and DOD Representatives. As The Sparrow Project explains in “The Homeland Battlefield: ‘Hedges v. Obama’ Lawsuit Challenging NDAA …” the plaintiffs are suing
… for injunctive relief barring the implementation of … NDAA’s ‘Homeland Battlefield’ provisions of indefinite detention and suspension of Habeus Corpus … .
The plaintiffs … include: New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, celebrated writer and linguist Noam Chomsky, Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, Tangerine Bolen founder of the activist media group RevolutionTruth, Occupy London activist Kai Wargalla, and Alexa O’Brien founder of the web campaign ‘US Day of Rage.’ Each of the plaintiffs share common narrative that their constitutionally protected work, either in activism or in journalism will be chilled by the over-broad provisions set forth under the NDAA. Naomi Wolf and Dr. Cornel West are in the process of becoming plaintiffs in this lawsuit … .
Hedges provided details about the earlier deposition process, and his reasons for joining the plaintiffs in his March 26 piece, The Polite Conference Rooms Where Liberties Are Saved and Lost.
The NDAA implodes our most cherished constitutional protections. It permits the military to function on U.S. soil as a civilian law enforcement agency. It authorizes the executive branch to order the military to selectively suspend due process and habeas corpus for citizens. The law can be used to detain people deemed threats to national security, including dissidents whose rights were once protected under the First Amendment, and hold them until what is termed ‘the end of the hostilities.’ …
… The 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act, the employment of the Espionage Act by the Obama White House against six suspected whistle-blowers and leakers, and the Homeland Battlefield Bill have crippled the work of investigative reporters in every major newsroom in the country. Government sources that once provided information to counter official narratives and lies have largely severed contact with the press. They are acutely aware that there is no longer any legal protection for those who dissent or who expose the crimes of state. The NDAA threw in a new and dangerous component that permits the government not only to silence journalists but imprison them and deny them due process because they ‘substantially supported’ terrorist groups or ‘associated forces.’
Those of us who reach out to groups opposed to the U.S. in order to explain them to the American public will not be differentiated from terrorists under this law. I know how vicious the government can be when it feels challenged by the press. I covered the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua from 1983 to 1988. …
This isn’t about Democratic of Republican parties, legislators or WH occupants. Or rather, it is, but in the sense that both parties have responsibility for such policies, laws and actions. The “when your guy does it, it’s bad; when my guy does it, it’s good” arguing just plays into maintaining the status quo.
Glenn Greenwald, the columnist and constitutional lawyer, has done the most detailed analysis of the NDAA bill. He has pointed out that the crucial phrases are ‘substantially supported’ and ‘associated forces.’ These two phrases, he writes, allow the government to expand the definition of terrorism to include groups that were not involved in the 9/11 attacks and may not have existed when those attacks took place. …
Totalitarian systems always begin by rewriting the law. They make legal what was once illegal. Crimes become patriotic acts. The defense of freedom and truth becomes a crime. … And it is always done in the name of national security. We obey the new laws as we obeyed the old laws, as if there was no difference.
NDAA is just one piece of the police state, or if you prefer, police state-like, construction. Tomorrow, a look at “The Nation’s ‘Biggest Spy Center,’” and at new guidelines regarding “terrorism” and the accompanying invasion of our privacy.
(NDAA 2012 graphic via OWS News)