Congress is signing away our liberties

NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land.  We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right

Source:  Magna Carta – Wikipedia.

In 1215, the barons of England forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, in which he conceded that he was subject to the law, and that his free subjects were all entitled to the protection of the law.  That has been the foundation of basic liberty in the English-speaking world ever since.  The right to habeas corpus, freedom from ex post facto laws, and freedom of bills of attainder were written into the United States Constitution even before there was a Bill of Rights.  They mean that no citizen may be imprisoned or punished unless he or she violates an existing law.  You are free to displease the ruler so long as you stay within the law.

Now Congress is on the verge of signing away these fundamental rights.   Both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have voted for versions of a National Defense Authorization Bill which would give President Obama the right to imprison people indefinitely if he designates them as terrorists.  The difference between the Senate and House bills is that the bad Senate bill gives him authority to suspend the Constitution and the worse House bill makes this mandatory.

I can’t understand why liberal Democrats think President Obama is more to be trusted with this power than President George W. Bush.

I am even more unable to understand why conservative Republicans, who claim to see the threat of dictatorship behind President Obama’s health insurance and government jobs programs, want to give him the power of a dictator.

President Obama has already claimed the power to sign death warrants of people he designates as terrorists, and to commit acts of war against countries he designates as terrorist—the definition of terrorism being whatever he says it is.

Click on The National Defense Authorization Act Is the Greatest Threat to Civil Liberties Americans Face for an article about the bill by E.D. Kain in Forbes magazine.

Click on Obama should veto the Defense authorization bill for analysis by Daphne Eviatar of Human Rights First for The Hill, an on-line news service about Congress.

Click on Obama strips Americans’ rights in NDAA bill, proclaims national human rights week for an article by Deborah Dupre in Human Rights Examiner.

In this video, Senator Carl Levin says the indefinite detention language was put in the NDAA at President Obama’s request.

Of course it is not as if President Obama previously respected the limits of the Constitution now, any more than President George W. Bush did.  The meaning of the current Senate and House votes is to diminish the likelihood that we Americans will ever be able to claw back our basic Constitutional rights.

[Update 12/15/11]  Click on Indefinite Detention of American Citizens: Coming Soon to Battlefield U.S.A. for Matt Taibbi’s article on the bill in Rolling Stone.

[Update 12/18/11]  Click on The NDAA Is a Horrible Bill, and Why Obama Is Going to Sign It  for a defense of President Obama, and some mitigating factors in the bill.  I don’t agree, but I could be wrong, and I hope I am.

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