An old adage reads, “If it quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.” The push by the Obama Administration to progressively strip Americans of basic liberties in the pursuit of political objectives has now taken on more draconian overtones, and no one seems to have noticed. While the media quibbles over Romney versus Gingrich, the Occupy movement, and other diversions, President Obama continues to undermine law and order, dismantling the US Constitution piece by piece. When public officials seek to limit freedom, it can be concluded that these officials want to rule instead of govern. Cloaking seizures of power in clever misnomers does not validate the abuse of public office. What else can we conclude when Obama claims the illegal power to assassinate citizens at his whim? If citizen assassination was the only example of executive malfeasance emanating from Washington, Americans could breathe easier, except that citizen assassination, e.g. Awlaki, has opened the floodgates for a barrage of new power seizures. The ground softened, the first brick laid, Obama can now proceed unchallenged.
As I warned repeatedly in multiple articles over the last two years, the machinery put in place to thwart Islamic terrorism could be turned against citizens for political purposes, due to the broad constructions used in terror definitions. Only no one could have imagined the speed at which these things would come to pass. As I explained in a previous article:
The broad and ambiguous language found in the PATRIOT Act gives the president, whoever that may be, the power to determine what is and is not “terror.” Section 411, G, vi, II of the PATRIOT Act defines a terrorist as anyone “designated, upon publication in the Federal Register, by the Secretary of State in consultation with or upon the request of the Attorney General.”
Everything that follows is contingent on this loose definition — i.e. warrantless wiretapping, warrantless entry, human tracking, access to bank statements and phone records, access to internet records, “enhanced” interrogation, and now assassination.
Illustrating the danger of such a legal construction is the fact that “terrorism” is increasingly used as a subjective slur to intimidate opponents. Recall that Democrats recently accused Republicans of “terrorism,” in place of presenting actual solutions to America’s budget crisis. The definition is adaptable it seems.
When the first citizen was felled by President Obama’s new citizen assassination program, the act was lauded by members of both parties as a tough and needed measure to successfully prosecute the war on terror. I counseled that this new and self-declared power would quickly morph into something dangerous to both democratic dialogue and the expression of ideas, potentially putting anyone with the temerity to criticize the President at risk. Since no one has seen the names of the persons supposedly on the classified “hit list,” there is no accountability in the way the new program is leveraged or organized.
And as CIA General Counsel Stephen Preston said to the American Bar Association (ABA) this past week, “I will make this observation that citizenship does not confer immunity on one who takes up arms against his own country. It didn’t in World War Two….” Preston conveniently forgets Supreme Court precedent voiding the actions of President Roosevelt against American citizens of Japanese descent.[i] This kind of semantic bantering though avoids the real issue: public officials, especially unelected ones, do not have the constitutional authority to decide when or under what circumstances to revoke the rights conferred by citizenship. Citizenship is, or it is not, but bureaucrats cannot be permitted to make citizenship conditional. If citizenship can be redefined by self-appointed political overlords, then the social contract that undergirds the American system ceases to exist. Besides, the Constitution already provides the mechanisms by which to address treason and rebellion. The attempt to make citizenship conditional then is a thinly-veiled means of silencing those standing in the way of total control, a goal apparently prized by Obama. Recall when Obama instructed his staff to “identify all those areas in which we can act administratively without additional congressional authorization and just get it done.” And consider that every major legislative “achievement” attributable to Obama has consisted of massive transfers of power to the executive branch from Congress and the American people.
I wish I had been wrong about my predictions. But legitimized citizen assassination has paved the way for even more Orwellian designs. Several weeks ago, Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) advanced legislation in the Senate that would designate the continental United States as a “battlefield.” Under the provisions of the legislation, the military could then deploy within the US without any formal authorization under Posse Comitatus, which limits domestic deployment and guards against a police state. No declaration of martial law is necessary. Obama only need give the order, and then troops can march down American streets in search of “terrorists,” real or hypothetical, since no real threat need be demonstrated. In his first term, Obama authored an executive order that transferred the power of deploying troops domestically from state governors to a council of persons answerable only to himself. A recipe for despotism and the virtual end of freedom in America now exist when this order and current proposals are combined. The horrific implications of converting America into an active warzone are obvious to any keen observer.
Other sections of the legislation illegally claim the authority to round up citizens deemed terrorists by would-be apparatchiks at the White House and hold them “indefinitely,” usurping the Habeas Corpus rights of American citizens. Section 1031 of the NDAA reads: “Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force … includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons…. [including] [d]etention under the law of war without trial….”
If President Obama is willing to mirandize self-avowed foreign Islamic terrorists, but kill on sight an American citizen without so much as an attempt at peaceful apprehension, what can Americans expect from the President once “indefinite detention” becomes law? Considering Obama’s clearly inverted understanding of how US law applies, i.e. civil rights in court extended to foreign persons and not to citizens, might it be prudent to conclude that he will also have the same inverse understanding of when and where to apply “enhanced interrogation?”
Why are Obama and his allies in Congress so eager to snuff out the lamp of liberty at home, for the promise of safety already attained? Previously imposed security measures have arguably already achieved the needed safeguards against domestic terror. Have any terrorist plots succeeded since 9/11?
Prior to becoming president, Obama once implied the need to “break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution….” He now applies the same philosophical bent, at odds with his oath of office, to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), telling the press categorically that he will not veto the legislation. Put simply, Obama sides with the enemies of freedom in Congress, and will allow the indefinite detention of American citizens to proceed. This is indeed a predictable response, considering Obama’s abhorrent constitutional record, e.g. unconfirmed czars, undeclared wars, illegal drilling bans, private sector nationalization, rule by executive fiat, and more recently, execution of citizens without due process. Obama rationalized his support of the legislation because it gives him “discretion” as to how the controversial provisions will be applied. That is supremely comforting.
To the everlasting shame of conservatives, certain members of the GOP are lending their support to these gargantuan power-grabs. Sen. Lindsey Graham praised the indefinite detention provisions, rejoicing “for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and that people can be detained without trial, “American citizen or not.” God help us.
Together, citizen assassination and indefinite detention represent the biggest attack on freedom and human rights in American history, and this assessment includes the Alien and Sedition Acts.
The founding fathers had a word to describe the events transpiring in America today, the disregard of the Constitution, the centralization of power in a few hands: tyranny.
This will either be a nation of free men and women, or it will be the next in a long line of tyrannies. There is no one to save America if America falls. This generation must decide the fate of American liberty.
[i] Ex parte Mitsuye Endo, 323 U.S. 283 (1944).