Sometimes, I grow weary of making reference in my columns to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America.
However, the end product of that cataclysmically destructive day forever altered our society: legally, militarily, ethnically, religiously, politically, etc. – an alteration that promises to persist for ages to come.
Resultant of those 9/11 attacks, two major events unfolded: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was formed, and the USA PATRIOT Act was drafted and enacted.
Though used mostly at the federal level, the Patriot Act affords collective American law enforcement greater latitude and longitude in battling terrorism.
Essentially, law enforcement, via the legislation, now has the authority to arrest anyone, anywhere, on mere suspicion, without a warrant, and hold the detainee at an undisclosed location for an indefinite period of time without allowing that person any contact with family, friends or legal counsel.
Adding even more fuel to this already-scorching-hot political fire is the National Defense Authorization Act.
The brainchild of Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the NDAA has been passed by both Houses of Congress, and the final version awaits President Barack Obama’s signature.
Though Obama has threatened to veto NDAA, there is strong speculation that, ultimately, he will sign off on it. Although, his decision to sign or not sign off on NDAA probably will rely on whichever choice he feels will garner him the most votes in the 2012 presidential election.
On the surface, from what I thus far have gathered, the NDAA would basically serve as an “extra tentacle” of the Patriot Act.
Unlike the latter, the U.S. military would be in control.
An attorney friend offered his opinion:
“The National Defense Authorization Act would give the U.S. military the authority to arrest and hold in a secret location, for an indefinite period of time, anyone suspected of being a threat to national security, and, just like the Patriot Act, deny the person being held the right to confer with defense counsel, and, also, without charges being presented in court, or even the right to trial – much less a fair and speedy trial by a jury of his peers!” my attorney friend emphatically declared.
“More or less, with this NDAA, the military would have the right to kick down your door, drag you or a family member from your home, or stop you at a traffic light and yank you from your car, and whisk you off to parts unknown... never to be seen nor heard from again, possibly. This NDAA has the potential to so infringe on the rights afforded by our U.S. Constitution – particularly the writ of habeas corpus – that those who are pro-NDAA, in my opinion, might as well be burning the American flag on the town square, while having a keg party and dancing to AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ because if someone in a position of authority doesn’t put a stop to these non-thought-out, over-the-edge laws, that’s exactly where America’s heading.”
For unbiased balance, it is necessary to recognize that America has become a battlefield of sorts: Yes, there are a large number of both illegal immigrants and, sadly, legitimate American citizens who despise America and desire to cause her great harm.
That said, it makes sense that protective elements – law enforcement and military agencies – have the means necessary to “protect.”
The key concern here, as I see it, is the fine line that separates those in law enforcement and the military who truly want to protect and serve versus those of a Gestapo mindset whose primary agenda is to abuse, bully and destroy.
We can only pray that the good cops and soldiers outnumber the bad ones.
Mike Vinson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.