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Loss of Liberty: Detaining Americans Without Trial

Updated on September 1, 2013
A Loss of Liberty
A Loss of Liberty
If this bill passes, this scene will play out and the detainee will be told that he has the right to nothing.
If this bill passes, this scene will play out and the detainee will be told that he has the right to nothing.

Disregarding the Constitution

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence." The Fifth Amendment provides in part that citizens of the United States cannot "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." These amendments on their most basic level mean that every citizen is entitled to a speedy trial before the government can take away their liberty and detain them in prison. This is a basic principle of being a citizen of the United States.

However, if both houses of Congress have their way, both Republicans and Democrats, many US citizens will be denied these basic Constitutional rights. The worst part, nobody seems to care.

Disregarding the Constittion appears to be the only thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on these days
Disregarding the Constittion appears to be the only thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on these days
President Obama has threatened to veto the bill but only time will tell.  If he does veto the bill, he runs the chance of being called Un-American.
President Obama has threatened to veto the bill but only time will tell. If he does veto the bill, he runs the chance of being called Un-American.

The Appropriations Bill

Denying Americans a fair trial before detention is not a new concept in America. It has been tried over and over again. In recent years, the war on terrorism has raised issues regarding whether Americans who are found to be helping terrorists are entitled to a trial before being detained indefinitely.

However, as America moves farther and farther away from September 11, 2001, these debates do not occur as much in public. But this does not mean that Americans are not still subject to the rules created after 911. The most recent debate in the US Senate shows that this debate still is alive, even though CNN and Fox News never mention it. The US National Defense Authorization Act has passed both the House and the Senate, by wide margins, and is ready for the President's signature or veto. President Obama has already threatened to veto the Appropriations bill if it contained the provision that took a trial away from American citizens.

The Senate debate on the bill was a strange ordeal. Both Democrats and Republicans stood in favor of the bill that was co-sponsored by Senators McCain and Levin, a Republican and Democrat. Lindsey Graham, a conservative Republican from South Carolina stated, "If you’re an American citizen and you betray your country, you’re not going to be given a lawyer ... I believe our military should be deeply involved in fighting these guys at home or abroad." Other members stood and proudly made similar statements. The very essence of the provisions is that the military shall have the discretion to determine who is a "terrorist" as that term is defined who fought against the United States in battle with the battlefield being defined as abroad and at home. Simply put, if the government believes that you are working against the United States, you can be detained without a trial, without a lawyer, without due process, indefinitely.

Apparently, we don't have to worry about Terrorists destorying our way of life:  Our Congress will do it for them
Apparently, we don't have to worry about Terrorists destorying our way of life: Our Congress will do it for them
Once Again Freedom Marches are Needed; oddly the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street groups will be walking hand in hand
Once Again Freedom Marches are Needed; oddly the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street groups will be walking hand in hand

Are You Kidding Me?

Of course the bill provisions do not flat out say that Americans can be detained without a trial. One has to read the bill, and most importantly its definitions, and understand how those definitions have been used by the military and executive branch in the last decade to understand how American citizens will have their rights taken away simply because someone in the military thinks they should be taken away.

The Declaration of Independence states as one of the grievances against King George was "For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of a Trial by Jury." Seriously, how far off the reservation has this nation gone when this long held principle and one of the very reasons for the existence of the United States is now being simply swept away with a large majority vote in both houses of Congress. Where is the outrage?

President Obama has stated that he will veto the bill if it contained this provision. We shall see. An election year is coming up and oddly if he does follow through and veto this bill he will be labeled by many as un-American because he will be vetoing a defense appropriation bill. But, more importantly, if the President cedes to the will of Congress, he will be signing a bill that facially is unconstitutional but he will be applauded by the majority of Congress. These are strange times indeed as Rand Paul, the most conservative Senator, and the ACLU are both vocally against this bill. Seriously, will someone explain this? How can this provision that directly limits an American's rights not cause the Tea Party to Occupy Congress and beat the members over the head with old copies of the Constitution.

Yes, jury trials are slow and imperfect. Yes, we give rights to people that nobody else in the world gives. Yes, it is hard. But here is the truth: IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE HARD. Being a self governing people with advanced citizenship is supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. But we the people are simply giving up the very principles we were founded upon without any fight. The Occupy movement is not being allowed to peacefully assemble anymore. Voters are disenfranchised all over the Country. And Americans are about to be denied a trial. How are members of Congress who supported such a bill not be guilty of treason? I simply do not understand.

Update - December 18, 2011

President Obama signed the bill. Sickening.

Comments

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    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR

      bgpappa 

      6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      THanks Artzgirl

    • ArtzGirl profile image

      ArtzGirl 

      6 years ago from San Diego

      Have you researched Agenda 21? Michael Shaw has some of the best videos out about this subject. This will explain the direction that our country is actually moving in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_o8JJSNN6g

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR

      bgpappa 

      6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Well, hopefully this will go away.

      Thanks for stopping by

    • danielthorne profile image

      danielthorne 

      6 years ago

      it's a sad day in America...

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR

      bgpappa 

      7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Ghost,

      When the far left (ACLU) and far right (Rand Paul) agree on something that the middle is doing, it usually means it is way off base. Not sure why that is the case but it tends to be.

      A few gazillion people won't read this article, but hopefully for the tens of tens that will it provides a little information. Just trying to do my small part.

      Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Ghost32 

      7 years ago

      I agree; this provision in the Appropriations bill is definitely not good. I'm a Tea Party member myself--and as we speak, am digging under the sofa cushions for old Constitution copies suitable for Congress-whapping.

      However, fortunately or unfortunately, the Tea Party is not an Occupy This or That sort of bunch. Kind of need the libs for that. But when you get something so off base that BOTH President Obama and your friendly right wing whack job (me) are alarmed....

      Voted Up and Useful (Useful, at least, if a few gazillion of us do more than just read about it.)

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR

      bgpappa 

      7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Well, I don't agree with everything you have said, but I understand the frustration. The same argument is always said: We have to do this to protect our way of life. It has been applied to terrorism, immigration, even taxes. But if competely ignore our ideas and values, what exactly are we protecting?

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 

      7 years ago from US

      We are way off track from what was meant to be and it keeps getting worse. We give to other countries hungry and close eyes to our own. We have let terrorists and illegals overrun us and no one says a word even with this being the main reason we are going down the tubes. What we don't give them in SS and medicaid, yes it is legal, five years for one, ten the other, but who asked us? Since we can ask no names they can stay on it forever, just change the name, and we keep up all of Mexico's criminals in our prisons. Our country is nothing to be proud of anymore. I am not sure we even have one.

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