Commentary

Bill of Rights Under Attack

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To the Editor,

Photo by Blair Jackson: Alexis Wilks and Brian Foster protested the Defense Authorization Act at the corner of College Ave. and Dickson St. earlier this week.

The mainstream media has been relatively silent on an insidious provision of the $662 billion Defense Authorization Act. This defense spending bill has attached to it a rider that virtually abolishes the Bill of Rights beyond what the Patriot Act has already done.
Last week, the United States Senate added this language into the DAA that erodes civil liberties for Americans specifically, and passed it with an overwhelming supermajority of93 votes. This legislation allows the military to arrest American citizens without charge and detain them indefinitely with no access to the court system, in a manner similar to what has happened at Guantanamo Bay. It also creates conditions where torture is very likely.

 

The Senators claim that this measure is intended to fight terrorism, but the language in the law is vague and ripe for abuse. It is important to know that similar legislation has been passed in American political history to target dissenting citizens, such as during World War I when thousands of anti-war activists were arrested and imprisoned for what should have been protected speech. There is a real danger that this law could ultimately be utilized for those purposes.

It is possible that this new law is a reaction to growing concern in the military industrial-Wall Street corporate complex about the Occupy Wall Street movement. This could be an additional coercive tool to control this political force before it becomes any more threatening to the status quo plutocratic corruption.

In fact, the City of London Police recently labeled Occupy activists in London as domestic terrorist extremists, so it is easy to see how this law could be used to silence dissent and free speech. All the government needs to do is call activists “terrorists” then they can be arrested without charge, detained indefinitely with no access to trial and potentially even tortured or assassinated.  Who would ever know if there was any hard evidence that you were or were not actually a “terrorist?”

Although the DAA easily passed the Senate, it has not passed the House yet and President Obama has stated he may veto it. However, this issue is of such vital importance that we need to do everything we can to educate our fellow citizens about this, so that we may all be inspired to help put pressure on lawmakers to reject this erosion of civil liberties.

Please call or email your representatives and ask them to reject the $662 billion Defense Authorization Act. Everyone must agree that protection of civil liberties is important, even if we do not agree that this massive military and oil war spending bill is an extreme waste of taxpayer dollars.

Abel Tomlinson
Fayetteville

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