The Government v. Everyoneby The Editors, takimag.com
December 17th 2011
Thursday marked 220 years since the Bill of Rights was signed. As tribute, the US government fed the Bill of Rights through a paper shredder. This week they shoved forward two bills that would neuter the constitution. Then, almost as if they were deliberately giving the finger to the entire nation, the White House Tweeted:
Happy Bill of Rights Day! The US continues to stand with citizens & governments around the world who empower free expression.
US propaganda says we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11 to export democracy. Thursday marked the official end of the Iraq War. Our grand mission to export democracy was successful, because as of this week, it no longer exists here. We’ll have to move somewhere else to find it.
Like a Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robot, the feds came out with both fists swinging this week. On Wednesday the White House told reporters that Obama had rescinded his own public promises to veto SB1867, otherwise known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). That bouncin’ baby bill contains a clause permitting the feds to indefinitely detain anyone so much as suspected of having terrorist affiliations. On Thursday a Congressional committee held a hearing on amendments that would soften H.R. 3261, AKA the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). That particular legislative confection would give the feds a Great Firewall of China-level authority to shut down websites at whim.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
One of the main things that got Barack Obama elected—other than his shimmering, hazelnut-colored skin—was public outrage over the Bush Administration’s indefinite detention of suspected terrorists at places such as Guantanamo Bay. So after Obama’s election, when reputed “conspiracy theorists” such as the portly porcupine Alex Jones would warn that the feds planned to declare martial law and corral US citizens into internment camps, they were roundly dismissed as wackadiddly paranoid schizos—and, of course, racists who couldn’t stand seeing a black guy get all the chicks.
It turns out that only the cuckoo clocks knew what time it is. Sections 1031-1032 of NDAA contain the prickly clauses about indefinitely detaining terrorists without judicial review. This passage…
The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
…would seem to exempt US citizens. But critics charge it is delicately worded—unlike foreign nationals suspected of terrorism, the US is not required to hold them indefinitely, but they are still permitted to do so.
According to Senator Lindsey Graham:
1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.
On Wednesday the House passed the bill 283-136. On Thursday—Bill of Rights Day—the Senate passed it 86-13. The bill now awaits Obama’s certain signature.
Obama had originally threatened to veto the bill, but not over the indefinite-detention clauses. In fact, bill sponsor Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) says it was the White House that insisted the language be altered to include American citizens:
The language which precluded the application of Section 1031 to American citizens was in the bill that we originally approved….and the administration asked us to remove (it) which says that US citizens and lawful residents would not be subject to this section.
Under the bill, American citizens can be indefinitely detained without proof merely on suspicion of having supported terrorist groups. Exactly what constitutes such “support” is, as always, the government’s guess.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)
Similar to the PROTECT IP Act the Senate Judiciary Committee approved in May, SOPA is ostensibly designed to protect intellectual property and discourage copyright infringements. But critics say it threatens to “break the Internet.” It conveniently allows los federales to obliterate any site that’s so much as accused of featuring copywritten material. In such cases, “infringement” can consist of merely linking to another site that, say, features a stock photo of kitty-cats that it hasn’t obtained permission to use. Merely embedding a video containing copy-protected material is a felony that could result in five years’ imprisonment. A site can feature 100,000 comments on a message board, but merely on the unproved accusation that it hosts one unauthorized photo, the entire site can be made to disappear. Perfectly legal speech can be blotted from existence because the feds have flushed due process and probable cause down the loo in its quest to legalize prior restraint. The potential for governmental abuse is enormous. After reviewing dozens of proposed amendments to the bill on Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee finally delayed its vote on Friday, meaning the bill will likely not be submitted to the House floor until early next year.
While these cyclopean threats to basic American freedoms were being made this week, the mainstream media was a quiet village of sedated crickets. During Thursday’s Republican presidential debate, a gaggle of lumpy, gassy candidates fielded questions about Israel, the countries surrounding Israel, and the relations between Israel and the countries surrounding it, but nothing about either NDAA or SOPA. Some have insinuated that a deliberate blackout was in effect.
On Monday, Gallup released a poll that showed most Americans, left or right, said they feared the government more than big business. Despite the fact that both Democrat and Republican lawmakers seem to love both NDAA and SOPA, social-media voices from both the left and right howled in disapproval at the bills. On Twitter, one suddenly encountered something unimaginable only a month ago: rightist libertarians and leftist Occupiers united in the belief that the government has gotten WAY the fuck out of hand. You’d see hashtags for #OWS and #TeaParty on the same Tweet. In the twinkling of an eye, jarheads and potheads agreed on one basic fact: The government that claims to represent them is instead their worst enemy. Instead of left versus right, it’s suddenly the government versus everyone. Whether it also becomes everyone versus the government remains to be seen.
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