Reason to be Afraid

First priority: read Chris Hedges’s piece on TruthDig (… )about his suit challenging the legality of Title X, Subtitle D of the National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama on December 31:

With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until “the end of hostilities.” (emphasis added)

Being an “accessory” opens up a broad, broad range of prospects, including encouraging emails or posts on the Web (see the case of Anwar Al-Awlaki). But, some may wonder, what about the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878? Doesn’t that bar the military from domestic police duties? The short answer is no; it only requires that such activities by the military be authorized by an act of Congress.

As we all know, fear and appeals to insecurity are arguably the most powerful motivation in elections. Candidates with no positive programs often fall back on fear … fear of foreign powers, of foreign ideologies, of foreigners “invading” the United States, or fear that the opposition will start telling you what doctor to see, will establish “death panels,” force your daughter to marry someone of another race… We have already seen these brought up in the Republican primary; more will follow.

A flip side is Romney’s “I love my country” routine, with the broad implication that anyone who disagrees with me doesn’t. Example: Mitt Romney on Sean Hannity on Dec. 15, thanks to Greg Sargent of WaPo (… ):

“I think the President has gone from being a failed Presidency, a guy over his head, to someone who is now so desperate to get reelection that he’s doing things that are very much counter to the interest of the country and he knows it.” (Emphasis added)

Paranoid, JO? No, I’m not afraid that a team of Navy Seals are coming by later night to haul me off to Guantanamo, or to launch a drone “hit” when I drive to the grocery store. But I can see that the definition of “enemy” of the country can easily be extended–and has been extended–to cover Barack Obama by the supposed moderate who’s likely to be the Republican candidate for president (fuggedabout Rick Perry accusing Ben Bernancke of “treason” using the very word).

This aspect of the defense appropriations bill was reported at the time (… ) but not, as I recall, widely remarked. It seems odd to add this to the defense authorization bill at this late stage of “war on terrorism.” It needs to become part of the public discourse.  

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