Considering our extensive coverage of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, and it’s provisions allowing for indefinite detention of anyone, including American citizens, by the military without charge, we’re probably past due for an update. The NDAA is frightening for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it essentially nullifies the 5th and 6th Amendments of the Bill of Rights, which protects against government abuse of of authority in legal proceedings and guarantees the accused the right to a speedy and public trial. Sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA does the exact opposite – it guarantees government abuse of it’s authority by allowing indefinite detention not only without a speedy trial and public trial, not only without a trial at all, but without any charge whatsoever. The implications of this are both obvious and chilling. If the government doesn’t like you – for whatever reason – it can have you snatched up and tossed in a hole by merely slapping the label “terrorist suspect” on you. Certainly not an attribute one would expect to find in “The Freest Nation on Earth”.
The NDAA is back in the news (well…the internet news anyway…I’m not sure it’s even been mentioned on the TV box short of the occasional inspiring Ron Paul speech that happens to make it on air) this week with the story that the Obama Administration has waived the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA as it applies to Americans and lawful U.S. residents. The fact the the Obama Administration felt the need to issue these new guidelines is certainly a positive development. No doubt it is due to the great amount of backlash from civil libertarians who, at least during the 2008 campaign, were a major part of his base. Obama defenders – hereby known as Obamapologists – will point to this and his signing statement that he wouldn’t use the provision against Americans to say that “all is well and that we have nothing to fear”. After all, he said he wouldn’t use it!
Now even if we take his words and these new guidelines at face value – a bit of a stretch as it was the President himself who requested these provisions in the first place – this misses the entire point. Even if Barack Obama really is the greatest, most well-meaning human being in the history of the world, it doesn’t change the fact that he signed the bill into law. “Signing statements” and “new guidelines” may sound nice, but they have no basis in law. Barack Obama may be out of office as soon as 10 months from now. But what about his successor? Doe anyone want Mitt Romney, the man who never met a principle he didn’t carefully calculate through a series of public opinion polls, having this power? Or heaven forbid – the Frothy one himself, Rick Santorum?
In contrast, there is a truly positive development which occurred this week in regards to fighting the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA. The Virginia State Senate approved a bill that would effectively nullify the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA. The bill, HB 1160, reads:
…no agency of the Commonwealth…, employee of either acting in his official capacity, or any member of the Virginia National Guard or Virginia Defense Force, when such a member is serving in the Virginia National Guard or the Virginia Defense Force on official state duty, may engage in any activity that aids an agency of or the armed forces of the United States in the execution of 50 U.S.C. 1541 as provided by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (P.L. 112-18, § 1021) in the investigation, prosecution, or detainment of any citizen of the United States in violation of Article I, Section 8 or 11 of the Constitution of Virginia.
In layman’s speak, it would stop any employee of Virginia or member of the Virginia National Guard to assist in the implementation of the NDAA within the state. The bill does still face some opposition as Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has stated his opposition to it, but regardless the fact that the majority of legislators in a State have voted to stand up to the federal government is surely a positive sign. This highlights the concept of nullification - the idea that States can and must ignore and actively combat Federal laws that violate the Constitution. With an increasingly out of control federal government that blatantly ignores the Constitution and the States rights’ provisions therein, utilizing nullification is surely one of the most important methods citizens can use on the grassroots level to fight encroaching federal tyranny.
We’ve already seen examples of nullification even in recent years. From California leading the way in passing medical marijuana laws to several states introducing bills to nullify Obamacare to this latest example, it is obvious that more and more states are beginning to accept and encourage the nullification concept. Of course, this topic is probably worth it’s own blog post…let’s just hope I don’t get indefinitely detained before I have the chance to write it!