On November 29th, the U.S. Senate approved a $662 billion “defense” bill that requires military holding of suspected terrorists, allowing them to be detained indefinitely – even if they are U.S. citizens. In essence, the Senate authorized the indefinite suspension of habeus corpus. This is perhaps one of the best examples of Americans trading freedom for security. This bill does not require that detainees be proven to be terrorists – it merely requires that they be suspected terrorists. In the spirit of the “PATRIOT” Act, the federal government again moves towards arbitrary definitions and vaguely-defined laws that circumvent constitutional rights.
How do you define a terrorist? Who defines a terrorist? It’s not unimaginable that somewhere down the road, provisions in bills like this, could be used against U.S. citizens who have no relation to terrorist organizations, by today’s accepted definition. But what if terrorism was redefined to target a specific group of people, such as political dissidents?
Yahoo News had this to say:
The Senate rejected an effort by Feinstein to limit a military custody requirement for suspects to those captured outside the United States. The vote was 55-45. Feinstein said her goal was to ensure “the military won’t be roaming our streets looking for suspected terrorists.”
This bill gives very few restrictions. The bill’s provisions can be read here. Since the bill gives the authority to detain people – including U.S. citizens – for being a suspected terrorist, and since you could be held indefinitely, there is no due process.
Rand Paul: “Know good and well, that someday there could be a government in power that is shipping its citizens off for disagreements… I would argue that we should strike the detainee provisions from this bill because we are giving up our liberty. We are giving up the constitutional right to have due process before we are sent to a prison. This is very important. I think this is a Constitution liberty we should not look at and blindly sign away to an executive power or to the military. So I would call for support of the amendment that will strike the provisions on keeping detainees indefinitely, particuarly because for the first time we can now send Ameircan citizens to prisons abroad.”
Douglas Macgregor: “Whenever you suspend due process, which in effect suspends the rule of law, you walk down a very dangerous path. You then give authority to your government that it can then wield, essentially without restraint. What worries me is that we will end up creating cateogires of people, who could then be subject to arbitrary arrest. And that’s dangerous, because we don’t know how those categories will be defined or interpreted in the future.”
Judge Andrew Napolitano: “Suppose the President decided that one of his political oppents was an enemy of hte state. He could make that person dispensary.”
Paul, Macgregor, and Napolitano get it. Trading freedom for security might sound nice, but it will inevitably lead towards a more tyrannical government.