I wrote earlier about the National Defense Authorization Act. This dangerous legislation would give increased power to the President to detain suspected terrorists or their supporters without a trial, whether citizens or not. I have noticed that honest liberals who care about civil liberties and the libertarians are going crazy about this, and rightly so. But I have not heard a peep from the right.
I went to the Heritage Foundation to find what they thought about it. I may have missed something, but the most recent articles I could find were from mid-October. The titles of the two pieces were promising: “Common-Sense Principles for Detainee Policy” and “Proposed Detainee Legislation May Overstep Constitutional Authority” Yes! The Heritage Foundation still stands for the constitution! But then I read what the articles actually said. The first article includes this: “As the House and Senate debate the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, The Heritage Foundation’s Charles Stimson notes that some of the provisions up for debate infringe upon the President’s constitutional powers.” What? The provisions may infringe on the President’s powers?
Two things about this. One, this is exactly what the Administration originally said about this. They complained that the President should answer to no one when detaining people without trial. It is strange to see the President and the Heritage Foundation in agreement on this issue. Second, this is absurd. The bill expands the President’s codified power in an almost unprecedented way. The rights of the alleged terrorists and supporters under the constitution are being infringed upon, not some presidential power hidden or implied in any part of the Constitution.
This is a betrayal of the constitution, individual rights, and the people of the United States. Two years ago, I would have been shocked to hear that the Heritage Foundation would support unfettered government power to detain people, including citizens. Now, from a libertarian perspective, I am not surprised to see the “right” and the “left” conspiring to give more power to the government and implement policies befitting of a totalitarian state in the name of safety.
Normally the “right” distrusts the Obama administrations use of power. However, when it comes to national defense, they often trust anyone who is claiming to protect the homeland. Hence, the second article says this: “But most of the proposed legislation potentially encroaches on the commander in chief’s executive power under the U.S. Constitution, denies the President needed flexibility, or exists solely because of distrust of this Administration’s wartime detention decisions.” This is so ironic. The Heritage Foundation ridiculing distrust of President Obama? The American people have every reason to doubt this Administration’s wartime detention decisions. He ran on ending Guantanamo and then reversed course and quietly supports it in almost the same way as his predecessor, continuing to question habeas corpus and basic human rights. Now he has lent his support to a bill that would allow indefinite detention of US citizens without a trial. This President does not need greater flexibility. All those who wield tremendous power need to be restrained. The Constitution attempted to do so, with very limited success.
The American people need to wake up. The “left” and the “right” are saying very little as our freedoms are being taken away. As Benjamin Franklin said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.“