Kill This Bill!

by lizard

As pundits and news consumers digest the bipartisan failure of the Super Committee, a terrible piece of legislation called the National Defense Authorization Act—produced through a bipartisan effort of the Senate Armed Services Committee—will get a vote tomorrow.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Senators Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and John McCain (R-Arizona), approved the bill despite its provisions for military detention of any suspect (even those apprehended within the United States) accused (not proven) of involvement in any terror-related offense. Presumably, military detention would include those accused of offenses as innocuous as “lying to a federal agent,” unrelated to actual terrorism yet classified as terror-related.

The White House and Democrat leadership apparently oppose this legislation. Did anyone bother telling Carl Levin?

Hopefully this bill will be killed tomorrow, but it makes one wonder why a Democrat like Levin would work to produce such a legislative monstrosity. Does Reid have any control? Is the White House powerless? Or is this how “bipartisanship” works these days on Capitol Hill?

We live in a nation where, apparently, we enjoy no electoral alternative to human rights abuses. Will the real Americans please stand up?

Even worse than the betrayal of Democrats, however, is the betrayal of Congress–by itself. Our Founders dedicated the Constitution’s first Article to Congress, to reflect its primacy after our revolution against a unilateral monarchy. The central theme of the Constitution is its system of checks & balances to limit executive power and prevent tyranny.

But rather than resist executive power, today’s congressional leaders actively expand it. Over the past decade, Congress has granted presidents from both political parties every power they have sought: the power to eavesdrop en masse on every American household without individualized suspicion, the power to ignore the Nuremberg principle and torture with impunity, the power to initiate unilateral war, and more.

Levin-McCain is substantively, procedurally, and structurally even worse: It actively outflanks the executive, granting powers that neither the White House nor the Pentagon want, and have even pledged to resist. Madison and Jefferson would each roll in their graves at Congress betrayal of their legacy.

Gee, I feel so much safer. Thanks jackasses.


  1. Pete Talbot

    On the heels of your post, I received this email from Helena’s Francis Kromkowski:

    Oppose Senate bill 1867 which gives the President power of worldwide indefinite. detention without charge or trial…

    Please contact Montana senators Baucus and Tester and urge them to vote YES on the Udall Amendment to S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act.

    As reported by Chris Anders of the ACLU on… Nov. 23, the Senate will vote on Monday 11/28/11 or Tuesday 11/29/11:

    … “…on whether Congress will give this president – and every future president – the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world … The power is so broad that even US citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself… The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill … The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.” [1– link below]

    Anders notes that the responsible alternative to this outrageous legislation is an amendment proposed by Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO). “The Udall Amendment that will delete the harmful provisions and replace them with a requirement for an orderly Congressional review of detention power.” [1 — link below]

    For more on the provisions of S. 1867 and the Udall Amendment see the ACLU post. [1] The post is generating lots of comment on the Reader Supported News website. [2 — link below]





  2. Turner

    Gosh, the White House is opposing this bill? I thought that Obama et al were opposed to civil liberties. Isn’t this what you’ve been saying?

    • JC

      I step forward, two back:

      FAA to propose rules allowing civilians and police to use drones in the U.S.

      “Drone maker AeroVironment Inc. of Monrovia, the nation’s biggest supplier of small drones to the military, has developed its first small helicopter drone that’s designed specifically for law enforcement. If FAA restrictions are eased, the company plans to shop it among the estimated 18,000 state and local police departments across the United States…

      Officials in Tampa Bay, Fla., want to use them for security surveillance at next year’s Republican National Convention.”

      Wonder how else the police, DHS and the FBI is going to use them? NOt to mention corporate spying. The surveillance society is nigh upon us…

      • Turner

        I agree. Civilian use of drones could be very dangerous for a number of reasons. I don’t know who that was at the FAA claiming “they’re coming,” but he needs to be smacked down.

  3. Turner

    And that doesn’t mean I necessarily approve of the government using drones. In Pakistan, for example, they may have been effective in killing combatants, but they’ve killed a lot of innocent people too.

  4. jackruby

    What exactly is defined as a ‘drone’? They could probably put a camera on quite a few of the bigger hobby RC planes and achieve the same thing as far as surveillance.

  5. lizard19

    fuck Obama.

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