Food for Thought – A Look at the uproar over the NDAA

English: GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (July 16, 2010) ...
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Guantanamo Bay Military Prison

Article by: Scott Hall
            A new year is upon our country and with it comes a collective overwhelming urge to dig even deeper into the truths behind things that inspire, scare or anger citizens of the United States.  A hot bed topic of debate is a recent legislative item, the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) that may or may not put risk of indefinite detention upon everyday citizens, as well as enemy combatants in the eyes of federal law.  It has been stated over the years and through many generations of people that “A little knowledge is dangerous, a lot is lethal.” Is this document detrimental to the lives of everyday citizens or did the sensationalized outlets blow a simple section of wording out of proportion?  Its 2012, time to put on our truth glasses and look inside H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act.
            The NDAA (H.R. 1540) is organized into 5 major categories: 1) Department of Defense Authorization, 2) Military Construction Authorization, 3) Department of Energy National Security Authorizations and Other Authorizations, 4) Funding Tables and 5) SBIR and STTR Reauthorization (gpo.gov).  On the title page of this 565 page Act, it states “To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2012 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction and for defense activities for the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year and for other purposes.”   In our Governments scope of budgeting, it is logical to accept that a proposal of fiscal nature to fund the Defense Department and Energy Departments would have to be included in a fiscal year.  The Act was written on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011.  This Act was signed into action on December 31, 2011, by President Obama.
            Within the subsections of the NDAA is the heart of the debate, section 1540-11.  This section is in relation to counter terrorism and lists the following:
 Subtitle D—Counterterrorism
Sec. 1021. Affirmation of authority of the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
Sec. 1022. Military custody for foreign al-Qaeda terrorists.
Sec. 1023. Procedures for periodic detention review of individuals detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Sec. 1024. Procedures for status determinations.
Sec. 1025. Requirement for national security protocols governing detainee communications.
Sec. 1026. Prohibition on use of funds to construct or modify facilities in the United States to house detainees transferred from United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Sec. 1027. Prohibition on the use of funds for the transfer or release of individuals detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Sec. 1028. Requirements for certifications relating to the transfer of detainees at
United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to foreign countries and other foreign entities.
Sec. 1029. Requirement for consultation regarding prosecution of terrorists.
Sec. 1030. Clarification of right to plead guilty in trial of capital offense by military
Sec. 1031. Counterterrorism operational briefing requirement.
Sec. 1032. National security planning guidance to deny safe havens to al-Qaeda
and its violent extremist affiliates.
Sec. 1033. Extension of authority to make rewards for combating terrorism.
Sec. 1034. Amendments relating to the Military Commissions Act of 2009.
            This area becomes our focus as it is the only area in the entire document that mentions specifically about detention lengths or persons.  On September the 18th, 2001 Congress passed the “Authorized Use of Military Force” into public law (107-40).  This joint resolution clearly states: The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.  This resolution came into focus just one week after the tragic events of 9-11-2001.  The congress, nation and its President at that time, (George Bush) stood united to ensure our countries safety.
            Many citizens now see the combination of the NDAA and the AUMF as detrimental to our country, that it robs “citizens” of the right to due process and equal treatment under the law.  Thus far in our examination, we have not seen evidence of any robbing of due process (other than saying detention may be indefinite), nor have we seen where just any “citizen” fits the criteria of what is defined within the documents mentioned.  To understand further, we need to know who or what constitutes a terrorist and how did this simple piece of document get so out of hand?  The Department of Defense defines terrorism as: The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious or ideological.  In the most practical sense, this could include United States citizens, however in the realistic sense, should those citizens decide to practice or participate in terroristic acts, they are defined clearly as unlawful, meaning they become subject to be tried in our military court system as an enemy combatant, if caught.
            The initial search to establish if maybe congress was hiding some unplanned provision or earlier document started in the amendments to the NDAA itself (govtrack).  Searching thru the vast fields of congressional talk turned up nothing that wasn’t budgetary, which is part of the NDAA’s focus and scope.  My focus then turned to a search of “news concerning the NDAA” what unfolded in front of me were pages and pages of news stories that portrayed the ACLU’s views, the Associated Press’s News and views from Honolulu where the document was signed. There were even several news stories that went on to go off the beaten path of the actual story and lead into other realms where martial law would be proclaimed in the name of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Association).  The hype of this document reached: The Huffington Post, Associated Press, Fox News, CNN, The Nightly News as well as other major media outlets and each with its own set of analyst’s thoughts, reviews and inflated opinions that many American citizens take as literal fact and this includes GE space maker microwave shop dot com’s web site as well.  The grape vine of misunderstood items has far reaching consequences.
            The NDAA legislation that was signed by our President in December of 2011 was written in January of that same year.  The NDAA fiscal considerations have been around for almost 50 years (President Truman’s Era) and in recent years have had to expand to include the scope of terrorism, which we as a nation defined as a result of tragedy.  Is the war on terrorism over just because we have withdrawn our troops from Iraq or is it due to other worldly events? The obvious answer is: certainly not as we have not yet completed our mission in regards to terrorists regimes such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda continuing to be a threatening presence overseas as well as here at home. Since that tragic day, the United States has foiled over 40 other plots of terror against our great nation by factions associated with some of the prisoner’s we now hold in our Military’s prisons and as in any prison system, costs are associated with their detention, whether or not it is “indefinite” in nature.  Does the NDAA apply to American “citizens” and their rights?
            In America, we enjoy many civil liberties and rights that have been granted to us over time since the birth of our Constitution.  The laws we all abide by are a compilation of time, social acceptance, judicial thought, crime modeling or control and vary by region, state or municipality.  They are written and supported by either a vote from the people or via ratification through congresses, then signed into law by mayors (local ordinances), governors (state laws) or presidents (federal law).  Arguments against the NDAA have been said to include violations of the 4th and 6th Amendments.  The 4th Amendment relates to Search and Seizure (usconstitution.net): The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or Affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person’s or things being seized. 
            The 6th Amendment relates to our Right to a speedy trial and confrontation of witnesses: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State or district wherein the crime was committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the Witnesses against him; to have compulsory process to have witnesses obtained in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.  Both of these Amendments reflect laws written in favor of the citizens of the United States in relation to prosecution of criminals under the law.  Citizens whom decide to join a terrorist group or practice terrorism are in violation of Federal Law, which supersedes state laws and carries clear definitions of how the laws apply.
            The United States must include in its budget considerations, all known aspects of the military’s spending and how it is appropriated.  Due to increased threats of terrorism, the United States has had to include in its fiscal projections counter terrorism funding and definitions.  Those who commit these acts are subject to laws that were implemented as early as 7 days after September 11, 2001.  The current NDAA has wording in it that most American citizens had distorted due to an explosion of opinion, rhetoric and hype given by the liberal and sensationalized media.  Our truth glasses showed us the actual wording and helped us to dig into a bit of the history and concern over this proposed budget, one that was written 12 months before it was signed.  No violations of our rights as American citizens have been uncovered in our quest to find that same truth.  Terrorists beware; we have reapplied the money necessary to continue to disrupt your plans on killing more innocent Americans.  Congress and the President continue to apply pressure to save lives and we the people who were blinded by “Freedom of the Press” now know some of the truth, glasses off.

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