It’s a bad sign when George W. Bush’s defense team thinks that a military bill goes too far in violating your rights. But we’ve got just that with the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act. This bill authorizes the military to detain American citizens indefinitely without giving them their Constitutional rights. Basically, if the military suspects that an American citizen has terrorist ties it can just throw them in military jail without the rights to habeas corpus, an attorney or just about anything.
Let’s say that again — this new bill, which passed the Senate with an alarming majority, allows the military to arrest American citizens on American soil and keep them without trial. It’s being called the “America the Battlefield” bill, because it treats your front yard like a battlefield — and every citizen like a potential enemy. It basically puts a giant asterisk next to the Bill of Rights saying, “unless we don’t feel like it.”
It’s no wonder that former a Bush State Department adviser said that this bill “would likely have been as strongly opposed by the Bush administration as by the Obama administration.” The same people who brought us waterboarding and the PATRIOT Act think that this is a step too far.
In fact, the only people who think that this is a good idea are the people who voted for it in Congress, which has an approval rating lower than that of BP during the oil spill or Hugo Chavez, just to name a few. Even those who trying to see the law with an optimistic light, as Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen does, can only concede that at best “the Senate avoided the worst result here.” Not exactly ringing praise.
The Obama administration has signaled that it might veto this egregious attack on Americans’ rights, but his decision is still up in the air. To let him know how important constitutional liberties are to them, thousands of people are petitioning the President to veto the bill. If he fails to veto, it will likely go to the Supreme Court.