The American Military Junta
America is now officially being ruled by a military Junta. That’s right. Much like the military government in Chile that was led by General Augusto Pinochet, our military now has expansive powers, which infringe upon our Constitutional rights. Back on December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (the NDAA) into law for the fiscal year 2012.
The NDAA is a bill that is passed into law every year, which allows the government to continue funding national security and military operations for the following fiscal year. But the 2012 bill wasn’t your average NDAA bill. The 2012 version of the NDAA gave the federal government vast new powers to add to its arsenal in the name of fighting terrorism.
Opponents of the act and even some of its sponsors believe that it gives the federal military the power to carry out the policing of American citizens, something that’s been off the books in America since the Posse Comitatus Act was signed into law back in 1878.
Many believe that the NDAA gives dictatorial powers to the federal government and military, because it allows our military to arrest any American citizen without a warrant, on American soil, and to hold an American citizen against their will for an indefinite amount of time without being criminally charged.
In January of 2012, journalist Chris Hedges, along with attorneys Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer, sued the federal government over Section 1021(b)(2) of the 2012 NDAA. According to the lawsuit’s website, StopNDAA.org, that provision, “includes undefined terms such as 'associated forces' and 'substantial support' – terms that government attorneys refused to clarify ... The right of the US government to detain anyone, anywhere without charge until 'the end of hostilities' is now codified into law.”
Later in 2012, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest declared that part of the NDAA was indeed unconstitutional. In her decision, Forrest wrote that Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA echoed the 1944 Supreme Court ruling in Korematsu v. United States, which let our military detain over 100,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II, and throw them in internment camps without due process.
The federal government appealed Forrest’s ruling, asking the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay of Forrest’s ruling. The 2nd Circuit agreed with the government’s request for a stay, and ultimately tossed out Forrest’s decision altogether. After that decision, Hedges, Afran, Mayer and the lawsuit’s other plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.
Last Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it would not be hearing the case. After learning of the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case, attorney Carl Mayer said that, “In declining to hear the case Hedges v. Obama and declining to review the NDAA, the Supreme Court has turned its back on precedent dating back to the Civil War era that holds that the military cannot police the streets of America. This is a major blow to civil liberties. It gives the green light to the military to detain people without trial or counsel in military installations, including secret installations abroad. There is little left of judicial review of presidential action during wartime.”
And, in a piece over at Common Dreams, Chris Hedges writes that, “In refusing to hear our lawsuit the courts have overturned nearly 150 years of case law that repeatedly holds that the military has no jurisdiction over civilians.”
Our military, thanks to the wording of the NDAA, now has the power to label us terrorists, capture us, lock us up in jail, and hold us there without any regard for our Constitutional rights to due process or to a fair trial. Section 1021(b)(2) of the 2012 NDAA trashes our Constitution, and the very freedoms that our Founding Fathers fought and died for.
Despite what the Supreme Court may think, our Constitution still says we have the rights to due process, to a free trial, and to not be thrown in jail by the military. In this case, a highly reactionary Supreme Court has thrown away nearly 200 years of historical precedent, and turned its back on the American people.
I want my Constitution back.