Former President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act in 2012.
No red flags in that, you may say, because he is civil and progressive Barack Obama, the man we miss for, if nothing else, the fact that he would not make fun of a person’s disability. The man who is the antithesis of this Trump-Bannon-Pence crowd of haters and tyrants, right?
Well, remembers these numbers: 1021 and 1022. If Trump’s police come to take you away because you have been outspoken against U.S. wars or racist policies, it will likely be because of Sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA.
They give the federal government broad powers to arrest anyone, including U.S. citizens in or outside the country, on suspicion of terrorism-related crimes, and to imprison them indefinitely without trial.
And it’s Trump’s law now.
A judge’s voiding of the powers in sections 1021 and 1022 during Obama’s presidency as unconstitutional was reversed by an appeals court and the House of Representatives has twice voted down efforts to rescind them.
President Obama said upon signing the NDAA he would strictly avoid using it to infringe on rights, but in 2012 the Huffington Post farsightedly asked whether we could count on successor presidents to feel the same way. Dan Johnson, founder of People Against the NDAA (PANDA) (http://pandaunite.org/) told Huff Post:
“The 2012 NDAA’s detention provisions apply to anyone, anywhere. But who is most likely to have the NDAA used against them? It depends on how you define the word terrorist. The Department of Homeland Security said that individuals or organizations ‘reverent of individual liberty’ and ‘suspicious of centralized federal authority’ pose a threat. The state of Georgia calls publishing ‘public records’ terrorism. The FBI added the director of an anti-fracking film to the terror watch list…. The government won’t define ‘terrorist,’ in order to keep their options flexible.… Under Section 1021, anyone who has committed a belligerent act, which even the government could not define when questioned in court, can be detained indefinitely, without charges or trial, as a ‘suspected terrorist.’ ”
Let’s review: Anyone. Detained indefinitely. Without trial. Without charges. For a belligerent act. Belligerent defined however the government wishes. And it is bi-partisan and the courts are upholding it.
Of the three members of Congress who have passionately urged NDAA sections 1021 and 1022’s rescinding, two are Republicans. Those two include my senator, Rand Paul, a man I otherwise do not respect at all. Paul opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and is a doctor who won’t join the AMA, instead choosing the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which spreads dangerous hokum against vaccines. And he is our hope.
As I have been writing for years, things are not as partisan as we think. And now, because the many underreported bipartisan agreements of our time include one called the NDAA, we face more danger than we think.
Brian Arbenz, of Louisville, is a justice and nonviolence activist and independent journalist.