Editorial: Ron Paul speaks out, wants to repeal part of Defense Authorization Act

By Richard S. Gubbe
Contributing Writer

Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has decided to not let sleeping dogs lie in his pursuit to overturn one paragraph in the controversial National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) signed on New Year’s Eve by President Barack Obama. National Hockey League goaltender Tim Thomas stood behind his view of this constitutional rights challenge to skip his team’s invite to the White House to celebrate the Boston Bruins’ Stanley Cup.

Take the “sleeping dogs lie” to be a double entendre. Every politician quoted directly from press interviews by The Rock River Times over the past month said they would never vote for any bill that takes away the rights of U.S citizens to due process as provided in the Constitution. And yet, there it is, in section 1021, in language that Paul believes obliterates the Constitution.

Paul ducked away from the campaign trail just before the voting in the South Carolina primary to introduce legislation to remove section 1021 and attacked one of his colleagues on the House floor about the National Defense Authorization Act.

Paul warned of this rights debauchery last December when he said the discretionary detention provision authorizing the president to detain people accused by the government of supporting terrorism is an outright attack on American’s basic civil rights.

Paul chided Obama’s issuing a signing statement declaring he will not use the law to detain Americans and wants the paragraph about discretionary detentions out of the NDAA bill, where it was slipped in subversively in versions of the House and Senate bills, then signed by Obama when nobody was looking. Paul said the bill will accelerate the country’s “slip into tyranny” and virtually assures “our descent into totalitarianism.”

Many rights activists, spearheaded by Paul, believe that section of the bill is out of line. Paul has made several public speeches about section 1021. In a weekly phone address to supporters, Paul said: “The founders wanted to set a high bar for the government to overcome in order to deprive an individual of life or liberty. To lower that bar is to endanger everyone. When the bar is low enough to include political enemies, our descent into totalitarianism is virtually assured. The Patriot Act, as bad as its violations against the Fourth Amendment was, was just one step down the slippery slope. The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act continues that slip into tyranny, and, in fact, accelerates it significantly.”

Paul went on to say the following in his phone address: “The Fifth Amendment is about much more than the right to remain silent in the face of government questioning. It contains very basic and very critical stipulations about the due process of law. The government cannot imprison a person for no reason and with no evidence presented and without access to legal counsel. The danger of the NDAA is its alarmingly vague, undefined criteria for who can be indefinitely detained by the U.S. government without trial.

It is no longer limited to members of al Qaeda or the Taliban, but anyone accused of substantially supporting such groups or associated forces. How closely associated, and what constitutes substantial support? What if it was discovered that someone who committed a terrorist act was once involved with a charity? Or suppose a political candidate? Are all donors of that candidate or supporters of that candidate now suspects and subject to indefinite detainment? Is that charity now an associated force?

The Bill of Rights has no exceptions for really bad people or terrorists or even non-citizens,” Paul continued. “It is a key check on government power against any person. That is not a weakness in our legal system; it is the very strength of our legal system. The NDAA attempts to justify abridging the Bill of Rights on the theory that rights are suspended in a time of war, and the entire United States is a battlefield in the war on terror. This is a very dangerous development, indeed. Beware.”

In a break from his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Paul took to the House floor to speak out against the section, which allows the government to detain without trial individuals who have “substantially supported al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States.”

Paul said section 1021 “provides for the possibility of the U.S. military acting as a kind of police force on U.S. soil, apprehending terror suspects, including Americans, and whisking them off to an undisclosed location indefinitely.”

He criticized his fellow lawmakers by saying the following: “Sadly, too many of my colleagues are too willing to undermine our constitution to support such outrageous legislation. One senator even said, about American citizens being picked up under this section of the NDAA, ‘When they say, “I want my lawyer,” you tell them, “Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.”’ Is this acceptable in someone who has taken an oath to uphold the constitution?”

Paul was speaking about comments made by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R- S.C., that were captured on C-SPAN. Graham has compared the war on terror to World War II and believes suspected enemies should be stripped of constitutional protections. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution says only Congress can declare war, and the president is authorized to wage it.

Bottom of form

Paul has said the language is too vague and could be used to detain Americans. According to the Texas congressman, the section is “precisely the kind of egregious distortion of justice that Americans have always ridiculed in so many dictatorships overseas.”

As reported by LewRockwell.com, the main difference between the new and old versions of the NDAA is the insertion of the paragraph between the “Implementation Procedures” and “Effective Date,” which is found in the new version. That paragraph reads: AUTHORITIES. — Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other domestic law enforcement agency with regard to a covered person, regardless whether such covered person is held in military custody.

U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., introduced legislation that will help the federal government circumvent that issue. The Enemy Expatriation Act seeks to remove U.S. citizenship from those who “support hostilities against the United States.”

Meanwhile, Bruins all-star goalie Thomas boycotted the visit with Obama to protest section 1021 after the invite to celebrate his team’s championship last June. Thomas, 36, went 16-9 in the playoffs with a 1.98 goals-against average, helping Boston to its first title in 39 years.

Thomas posted his decision on his Facebook page last week and has refused to answer questions about it since.

I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People,” Thomas wrote. “This is being done at the Executive, Legislative and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.

Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House,” Thomas continued. “This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion, both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL. This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic.”

Paul’s legislation is less than 100 words in H.R. 3785 would repeal section 1021 of the NDAA. The bill, introduced Jan. 18, has been assigned to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, in addition to the Committee on Armed Services.

Paul told his supporters after the South Carolina Primary ended that “The message of liberty is being received by more people every single day.” He said on national TV he “introduced a bill to repeal that provision and remove that power from our president. Our cause is the right cause because it’s the cause that made America great. Freedom is the answer to so many of our problems. Freedom brings people together.”

In previous statements provided to The Rock River Times by U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, all said they would never support a bill that eliminated the rights of U.S. citizens, and yet all voted for the bills, respectively, in the House and Senate.

Section 1021 needs to be repealed. The language of providing the president with far-reaching and exclusive powers to imprison anyone anywhere at any time is dangerous and scary.

Who inserted the paragraph and when it was done has not been disclosed. But it’s there, it’s law, and it must be eliminated to return our country to the course set by the Constitution.

From the Feb. 1-7, 2012, issue

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