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Rowley writes: "When in doubt about a case, what do you think the government will again do? Does it prefer to submit its evidence to a jury's scrutiny and its witnesses to the trouble of being cross-examined in court by a defense attorney or would it be easier to have no questions asked and dump the accused into detainee prison without rights? I think we already know that answer from the nearly ten years of experience at Guantanamo."

President Obama, after delivering a speech at Benjamin Banneker High School in Washington, 09/28/11. (photo: Jason Reed/Reuters)
President Obama, after delivering a speech at Benjamin Banneker High School in Washington, 09/28/11. (photo: Jason Reed/Reuters)



Obama Should Veto Empire Over Republic

By Coleen Rowley, CommonDreams

03 December 11

 

he political, military industrial, corporate class in Washington DC continues to re-make our constitutional republic into a powerful, unaccountable military empire. Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted 93 to 7 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 which allows the military to operate domestically within the borders of the United States and to possibly (or most probably) detain U.S. citizens without trial. Forget that the ACLU called it "an historic threat to American citizens", this bill is so dangerous not only to our rights but to our country's security that it was criticized by the Directors of the FBI, the CIA, the National Intelligence Director and the U.S. Defense Secretary! For the first time in our history, if this Act is not vetoed, American citizens may not be guaranteed their Article III right to trial.

The government would be able to decide who gets an old fashioned trial (along with right to attorney and right against self-incrimination) and who gets detained without due process and put into a modern legal limbo. Does anyone remember that none of the first thousand people the FBI rounded up after 9-11, and which were imprisoned for several months (some brutalized) were ever charged with terrorism? Does anyone remember that hundreds of the Gitmo detainees who were handed over to their American military captors in exchange for monetary bounties were found, after years of imprisonment, to have no connection to terrorism?

When in doubt about a case, what do you think the government will again do? Does it prefer to submit its evidence to a jury's scrutiny and its witnesses to the trouble of being cross-examined in court by a defense attorney or would it be easier to have no questions asked and dump the accused into detainee prison without rights? I think we already know that answer from the nearly ten years of experience at Guantanamo.

Senator Lindsey Graham declared that suspected citizens open themselves up "to imprisonment and death". "And when they say, 'I want my lawyer,' you tell them: 'Shut up. You don't get a lawyer.'"

Of course, the politicians will say we are just talking about a few cases. But in fact the sky's probably the limit given the current legal ambiguity in the Patriot Act expansion of "material support for terrorism" to now include humanitarian aid and even mere advocacy speech without any need to prove an accused person intended to support any kind of terrorist violence. The Department of Justice has been currently using this ambiguity for over a year to investigate twenty three American citizens who are anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. Additionally, the "war on terror" will undoubtedly expand even more when it is de-linked from 9-11 - see "The War on Terrorism Congress Never Declared - But Soon Might" by Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor, expert on these issues and associate dean for scholarship at American University Washington College of Law:

... an individual may be detained for providing "direct support" (which, in the government's view, may be nothing more than minor financial or logistical assistance) in aid of "associated forces" that are "engaged in hostilities against ... coalition partners." Thus, the NDAA effectively authorizes the military detention of any individual who provides such assistance anywhere in the world to any group engaged in hostilities against any of our coalition partners, whether or not the United States is in any way involved in (or even affected by) that particular conflict.

Given this expansion of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force contained in the 2012 NDAA to encompass undefined "associated forces", we could witness the US government targeting a large range of political dissidents, human rights activists, humanitarians, and maybe even "occupiers".

The NDAA is deliberately confusing for political purposes but much is at stake. Obama's determination as to whether or not he will veto the problematic 2012 war funding bill will determine how Benjamin Franklin's glib response to the woman waiting outside the Constitutional Convention is ultimately answered. Franklin and other founding fathers had created "a Republic, Madam, if you can keep it". But a lawless Military Empire could now await where U.S. "emergency war powers" trump the Constitution, where the Commander in Chief becomes king for a term(s), the military enters into police state actions in violation of 130 years of Posse Comitatus law, and the Constitution becomes as quaint as the Geneva Conventions were for Alberto Gonzalez and the Bush Administration.

Corrupted, compliant politicians have already allowed their fears to get the better of them by going along with pre-emptive war in violation of the Nuremberg Principles and international law and torturing in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture. So why should they also not go for detaining American citizens without constitutional rights or trial?


Coleen Rowley, a FBI special agent for almost 24 years, was legal counsel to the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis from 1990 to 2003. She came to national attention in June 2002, when she testified before Congress about serious lapses before 9/11 that helped account for the failure to prevent the attacks. She now writes and speaks on ethical decision-making and on balancing civil liberties with the need for effective investigation.

 

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+3 # Billy Bob 2011-12-03 23:02
I don't understand the point of this article's title. I agree with everything in the body of it, but "Obama should veto empire over republic"?

The President is still the Commander and Chief, right? Doesn't he have some say in all of this? Why is it constantly assumed he's in the back seat and bears no direct responsibility?
 
 
+20 # Ralph Averill 2011-12-04 04:05
It is because Congress is independent of the executive branch of the government, as is the judicial. An act of Congress must be endorsed by the president, ("signed") to become law. The president can veto any act of Congress, whereby Congress needs a two thirds vote on the issue to override the veto, and create a law without the president's endorsement.
However, the President is as free to speak out for or against any issue as any other citizen. What he says usually gets a lot of attention. It's called the bully pulpit, named after a favorite expression of Teddy Roosevelt.
Obama could have, and should have, spoken out against this terrible bill, but he didn't, probably because he wants his jobs bill passed and doesn't want to alienate any Senators. Since he didn't speak out against it, it seems unlikely he will veto it. Shame on him. Shame on all the Senators who voted for this bill, including my own Dick Blumenthal of Conn. Shame on them all.
 
 
+9 # John Locke 2011-12-04 10:29
This bill is the intent of the 1% to end all resistence to their rule, they will certainly go after the occupiers at their first chance, and sadly the movement doesn't have the real support of the entire 99%. The 99% have been divided by a lack of intellect, and having been dumbed down by the media, those who control this government are now going to clamp down and make sure that all resistence to their rule dies one way or another, this will only lead to violence and senseless loss of human life, but this is the way all thirld countries rule, by force...
 
 
+1 # fobsub 2011-12-04 22:51
Quoting John Locke:
This bill is the intent of the 1% to end all resistence to their rule, they will certainly go after the occupiers at their first chance, and sadly the movement doesn't have the real support of the entire 99%. The 99% have been divided by a lack of intellect, and having been dumbed down by the media, those who control this government are now going to clamp down and make sure that all resistence to their rule dies one way or another, this will only lead to violence and senseless loss of human life, but this is the way all thirld countries rule, by force...


The public still has the right to remove all money from banks and other financial institutions as well as to control the spending of their money to the point that it will seriously irritate the 1%. Sure there would be casualties due to economic disruption but the economy is corrupt and requires adjustment,, people have the power to do it if they will organize. Getting them to organize will require some very special activists who will, of course, then be in line for military capture and disposal.
 
 
+2 # Billy Bob 2011-12-05 01:26
I guess I didn't make my point clear. I'm well aware of the separation of powers. It's just that, "vetoing the bill" doesn't undo the "patriot" act, or the torture that is going on right now as of this very instant - both of which could be ended (atleast temporarily) with an executive action. For too long, Obama has played the victim and acted powerless in matters where he had a lot more than just the bully pulpit at his disposal.
 
 
+23 # futhark 2011-12-04 06:04
"Should" is the operative word here. We all have a right to advise the president on his course of action. In this case, the choice is clear. Either honor his oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States or reveal himself to be the slavish lackey of the security state mentality promoted by neocons like Dick Cheney.
 
 
+14 # MainStreetMentor 2011-12-04 09:15
Any act of patriotism
The bill does not ever cite
It erodes only Democracy.
Did they do us right?

A war in Afghanistan
WMDs were not in sight
Still we attacked,
Did we do us right?

Supreme Court decision:
The “Corp is person” slight
And money equals speech
Did they do us right?

Healthcare for the masses
In a deadly fight
If it is defeated
Did we do us right?

Wall Street’s greed and avarice;
Their ethics we indict
Still they count their bonus cash,
Did they do us right?

Fracking fouls our water
But courts refuse to smite
Petroleum companies
Did they do us right?

Global warming now
Places earth in it’s twilight
They say: “Hoax”, but …
Do they do us right?

You and I caught in-between
But paying here in spite
Of no job creations …
No … they didn’t do us right.
 
 
+19 # Erdajean 2011-12-03 23:16
In our current Heyday of the Despicable, this may turn into the worst nightmare of people with conscience. We need only remember the howls of "Anti-American" and "Unpatriotic" that rained down on all who dared question the "official" story of the 9-11 debacle. To even question anything this two-faced government does was -- and still is -- a perilous step toward the unspeakable dark.
That the U.S. Senate begat this trap for thinking people tells us we are in far worse trouble than all our frolicking lemmings can possibly imagine, on their way to the cliff. Will Obama veto this travesty? It would be unlike him....
 
 
+7 # giraffee2012 2011-12-03 23:50
We are so screwed! The Udall amendment is a sham also. WHY? Who is funding this take over of our freedom? Koch? Oil? Be careful who you vote for in 2012. Look at their voting record and who is funding their campaign although the Supremes' 2010 unconstitutiona l decision "person hood" and "super packs" make this difficult now too.

The Koch are funding the NYPD against the OWS but who is funding the Oakland military police and the Davis Campus police?

On top of all this mess - those idiots of a reality dhow who are running for the GOP nomination are proffering more of the same and via FAUX - the stupid who will vote for Newt or Romney think these pigs will make their life good?


The Fed gave the banks 7.77 Trillion at 0% interest (of our tax money) and the GOP will take away our education, Social Security, etc (and Newt wants kids in poor districts to work as janitors at their school.)

We, the people, slept while these creeps took over our government and they will now make us slaves and beggars.

Come on folks - there has to be a way out. We out-number them. Pool your ideas while we are still allowed to communicate.

When they take all our jobs over-seas we'll be starving but won't be able to pay taxes to fund their military (her and anywhere)

I hate our elected pigs
 
 
+22 # jon 2011-12-03 23:56
Hitler and Stalin have won, in absentia.
 
 
+14 # Barkingcarpet 2011-12-04 00:03
Dude, where did my country go?

Mr Wizzard?

Yes, WE can. So, lets get busy

and fix the mess we have made of this whirled!
 
 
+14 # Magars 2011-12-04 00:39
Jack Rice ,former CIA agent,in different interviews at NCNBC and RT,mentioned the danger of militaristic and anti democratic ideas. among some legislators ,as well as the illegal participation of CIA in regimes change without any intentions by Congress or by any Administration to stop it
When the Bush era's PATRIOT Act was renewed,it opened the door to more atrocities.Now the pro war,and extreme conservative wing in Congress will support everything that will help build an strong control of the society.
Please,try to read Tom Engelhardt last book (2011)"The United State of Fear" It is a book that any person that believe in justice an democracy must read. And thanks,Mr Rowley for the alert you raised with this article!
 
 
+20 # Patch 2011-12-04 00:57
Welcome to Nazi America. I have very little hope that Obama will do the right thing and veto this bill.
 
 
+1 # RLF 2011-12-05 05:58
He put in Holder who has time and again refused to prosecute the rich and connected while torturing leakers. Why would anyone expect Obama to do anything but what his rich handlers want...after some hand wringing, of course!
 
 
+8 # skayjoh 2011-12-04 01:07
I realize the extreme pressure our president must be under with the constant threat of being taken out as JFK was taken out, perhaps with his entire family as some of our ethical political leaders have been destroyed. I realize "We the People" probably cannot protect him and that we have effectively turned over our country to the powerful "New World Order."

Is it too late? What will it take? I had hoped that Al Franken would have had the strength of character of our Paul Wellsone. I was not surprised that Amy Klobuchar fell in line with the puppet master's directive. Are we going down with a whimper?
 
 
+16 # Cdesignpdx 2011-12-04 01:07
Don't forget that Coleen Rowley notified the feds, pre 9/11, that some of the later identified 19 hijackers were taking flying lessons and not interested in learning landing skills. Her report was ignored. Please listen to her now.
Obama will veto this legislation, but his veto could be overridden based upon this Senate survey of yea votes. What is going on beneath the surface of the Republican agenda is a death sentence to democracy and a "thank you" to 1% of a country founded in reply to injustice.
OWS!
Also, please advise every one you know how this could ruin lives across the broad spectrum of America. An innocent letter with a misspelled word– sh*t can happen to anyone dumbed down by (a sly) FOX.
There are many Senators who deserve to be reelected. Don't buy into an across-the-boar d "vote 'em all out" message. Look at who supported this crazy legislation.

An aside: There were actually some things Lindsay Graham supported that I agreed with–after this, he must go!
 
 
+15 # dloehr 2011-12-04 01:59
At first glance, it looks odd for the Senate to try and define the U.S. as a battlefield, where citizens can be arrested and detained indefinitely without any due process.

But at second glance, it makes a horrid kind of sense. From Chile in 1973 to Russia and now the U.S., Milton Friedman's "Shock Doctrine" was the preferred method of committing wholesale robbery of entire nations. Privatize (sell off the country's assets at bargain prices), deregulate (change laws to make the theft legal) and cut social spending (meaning, cut the 99% off at the knees) -- this unholy trinity worked time and time again. However, there were always the huge human rights abuses, murders, disappearances, every time. Friedman felt badly, though of course saw the abuses as unrelated to the looting. Naomi Klein nailed it, though, when she said all the countries were the site of “an extraordinarily violent armed robbery (The Shock Doctrine, p. 125).”

In each country, the “usual suspects” are rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, murdered: liberals, intellectuals, labor movements, artists, musicians – anyone who feels and will speak out against the ongoing robbery.

Whether Obama helps the Senate declare martial law, we now know it's on the table.
 
 
+12 # noitall 2011-12-04 02:59
The 99% have no friends, no representatives . We are alone and must do it ourselves. One by one the blocks are being created and set in place agaianst the 99%. Now it will be officially hazardous to your future to peacefully disagree with govt. policy. The 1% has a huge moat protecting them and on and on. The propaganda machine is turned on and spinning its magic..."be scared, Americans". All we have is the street. Get out into it!
 
 
+15 # Abigail 2011-12-04 05:02
How can Congress pass a law which is blatantly unconstitutiona l? How can they abrogate our rights under the Constitution without going through the process of amending the Constitution? President Obama, as the leader of this country and a constitutional lawyer MUST veto this attack on our Constitution.
 
 
0 # fobsub 2011-12-04 23:43
Quoting Abigail:
How can Congress pass a law which is blatantly unconstitutional? How can they abrogate our rights under the Constitution without going through the process of amending the Constitution? President Obama, as the leader of this country and a constitutional lawyer MUST veto this attack on our Constitution.


Wake up,, remember as good a choice as he seemed to be, he is still one of the 1%. In fact he has to act on their behalf, not ours.
 
 
+13 # Abigail 2011-12-04 05:05
How can the Congress have the stupidity to pass a law that is blatantly unconstitutiona l? If President Obama, with his background in Constitutional Law, doesn't veto this bill, we are in deep trouble.
 
 
+6 # in deo veritas 2011-12-04 08:23
Congress is no more stupid than the Nazis. They know exactly what they are doing and that is to serve Wall Street, neofascists like the Koches, and to hell with the public. It is the public that was stupid enough to elect the teabaggers and others who have shown themselves to be traitors by supporting this unconstitutiona l bill AND others. Extending the "patriot act" was bad enough. If Obama does not veto this then he deserves impeachment but the people behind this travesty want him around until 2012.
 
 
+19 # jedson 2011-12-04 06:17
There may be one tiny silver lining around this horror. If Obama vetos this legislation (regardless of the probability he will be over-ruled) then perhaps we have a president we can support. If not, then he is one of those who is ushering in the police state. Forget whatever inner doubts he may or may not have. He is being put on the spot, and his behavior will give us a conclusive answer. If he fails to veto, then any continuing talk of supporting him or voting for democrats as a meaningful response to the trashing of the constitution will plainly be ludicrous.
 
 
+2 # Carolyn 2011-12-04 08:14
Quoting jedson:
There may be one tiny silver lining around this horror. If Obama vetos this legislation (regardless of the probability he will be over-ruled) then perhaps we have a president we can support. If not, then he is one of those who is ushering in the police state. Forget whatever inner doubts he may or may not have. He is being put on the spot, and his behavior will give us a conclusive answer. If he fails to veto, then any continuing talk of supporting him or voting for democrats as a meaningful response to the trashing of the constitution will plainly be ludicrous.

--Yes. You got it. There was an old song that I knew long, long ago. It was very beautiful -- a love song. Ir i what comes up in my mind: "I know where Im going, and I know who goes with me." OUr country is like that -- under our president. --
 
 
+9 # Jill of York 2011-12-04 06:25
Welcome to the United Fascist Police States of Amerika! My father who fought in WWII under Patton, Korea and Vietnam to protect our freedoms (well he thought he was anyway) is rolling over in his grave.
 
 
+8 # antineocon 2011-12-04 06:33
HOW TO GET OUR COUNTRY BACK FROM THE NEOCONS AND THE MILITARY ELITE. OUR SUBPREME COURT IS USELESS AS IT IS PACKED WITH BUSH CHENEY NEOCONS, SO WHERE TO WE FIND JUUTICE AND HOW CAN WE GET OUR COUNTRY BACK TO A REPUBLIC? PLEAEE TELL ME
 
 
+4 # Erdajean 2011-12-04 08:49
How DO we get America back? The odds are not cheering. Elections? First we need smart, strong people to run -- but who is willing? We need theft-proof voting, but that disappeared with paper ballots. Beyond elections we must remember that the killers of democracy have all the guns and all the money. Worse than any of it, a pall of absolute evil hangs over us when a Democrat senate votes the way ours did on this hideous bill -- and a Democrat president is not likely to veto it unless he knows his veto will be over-ridden. The deck is stacked, and our backs are to the wall. Sometimes that is when we do our best thinking, and most earnest praying. Believe me, it's time.
 
 
0 # fobsub 2011-12-04 23:50
Quoting antineocon:
HOW TO GET OUR COUNTRY BACK FROM THE NEOCONS AND THE MILITARY ELITE. OUR SUBPREME COURT IS USELESS AS IT IS PACKED WITH BUSH CHENEY NEOCONS, SO WHERE TO WE FIND JUUTICE AND HOW CAN WE GET OUR COUNTRY BACK TO A REPUBLIC? PLEAEE TELL ME


There are only a few options and Americans have been programed to do none of them.
 
 
+10 # mwd870 2011-12-04 06:34
Just veto the damn bill, please Mr. President.
 
 
0 # fobsub 2011-12-04 23:55
Quoting mwd870:
Just veto the damn bill, please Mr. President.


It will make no difference if he vetoes the bill or not, we're already in a tailspin. Buy your toys, eat your corn chips, drink your beer and do as you're told.
 
 
+5 # seeuingoa 2011-12-04 06:39
President Obama doesn´t have too many options left from his beginning as mister
yes we can, to end up mister no he couldn,t
 
 
+4 # WLawpsh 2011-12-04 07:27
President Nixon vetoed the War Powers Act of 1973 and Congress then enacted it by a two-thirds majority. The Senate 97 to 3 vote suggests the may well happen to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The three federal imperial statutes (1871, 1973 2012) have come full circle to abrogate the right to exist of Indian tribes, foreign Nations and now citizens. For some strange self destructive reason the People and those entities refuse or neglect to have recourse to the rule of law path blazed by the Constitution for rescuing themselves. It path has been depicted for them by the Mahican and Mi'kmaq Tribes at their website "Might Is Not Right" at http://mightisnotright.org/. I keep saying so and writing Godot articles but no one seems to hear or even think about acting to save life under constitutionali sm from death under imperialism. My God, Coleen and everyone else, please wake up and smell the corpses! A legal rule of law remedy DOES exist. Why WON'T you even try it? Or contact me to find out more if you can't understand it? Its free. Its straightforward . Its constitutional.
 
 
+4 # Ken Hall 2011-12-04 07:27
A presidential veto would keep this bill from becoming law. I think Mr. Obama, a Constitutional scholar, understands the issues. The Bill of Rights guarantees Habeas Corpus as an "inalienable" right. This is a moment of major import. Will neo-con and neo-lib forces succeed in overthrowing one of the underpinnings of our "rule by laws, not by men", or, if the bill crosses the oval office desk, will BO veto it? If BO does not veto it, can any true patriot and thinking person still support him? Thank you, CR, for your attention to this important choice point. As an aside, I wonder what intellectual contortions a conservative, activist jurist such as Scalia, who purports to adhere to "original intent", would twist himself into in order to give this law the imprimatur of legality?
 
 
+5 # in deo veritas 2011-12-04 08:32
Let us see ther list of those senators who voted for this abomination so we can get started on removing them from office if we are allowed to have another election.NOW is the time to get grass-roots candidates to run against them and their villianaire backers. This bill is unconstitutiona l and those supporting it have committed treason by violating the oath they took to support and defend the constitution-an oath ending in "so help me God". How do they plan to explain this to the only real Judge?
 
 
+3 # fredboy 2011-12-04 09:02
He failed us on this and so many important issues. Don't even know where he stands now, or if he is willing to stand. Have been a dedicated Democrat my whole life (my dad was a friend of JFKs and introduced me to the party), but I have no idea where the party stands on anything any more.
 
 
+4 # Karlus58 2011-12-04 11:04
...Good grief! When will this madness end? If Obama supports this atrocity...wher e are we to go?
 
 
+6 # Karlus58 2011-12-04 11:08
...May I add, I've been so exasperated by my attempts to pass on all these informative articles to friends, neighbors, family. The main response is "I'm not getting involved with things I can't change". This is a huge problem for us all.
 
 
+2 # jwb110 2011-12-04 12:10
Looks like America is in one of those Ides of March moments. The members of Congress in support of this NDAA have violated their oath of office and if the president allows the law to stand he has violated his oath also.
Now the question...who Watches the Watchmen? Where does the American Public go to rectify this violation of the BIll of RIghts and the Constitution?
We, as a nation, cannot possibly think that this sitting Supreme Court will come down on the side of the individual American. They are as complicit in the stealing of America from Americans as the other branches of the federal Gov't.
I would hope that somewhere in some corner of this out of control America, an America I hardly recognize from my youth, some wisdom will prevail.
If the gov't leaves no recourse to its people but violence for redress of grievances, it should expect violence. We have become a third world nation fiscally and now the lunatic fringe will make us a Banana Republic. How the mighty have fallen!
 
 
0 # Bodiotoo 2011-12-04 15:19
This is the type of law/position that could well lead to armed revolt; Not Against the Constitution, but in support of the legal framework that has quarenteed United States residents thier rights. My question to all readers now is...
"Is Armed revolt to support our rights terrorism or are we being terrorised by those sworn to represent and uphold the Constituion?"

VETO this act Mr. President. Voice a strong objection to it and point it out on the campaign trail. We The People need to Occupy America.
 
 
0 # fobsub 2011-12-05 00:22
[quote name="WLawpsh"] President Nixon vetoed the War Powers Act of 1973 and Congress then enacted it by a two-thirds majority. The Senate 97 to 3 vote suggests the may well happen to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The three federal imperial statutes (1871, 1973 2012) have come full circle to abrogate the right to exist of Indian tribes,

Telling people they have the right and duty to change a wayward government is like talking to a wall. The 99% have all the power and authority to use it. A new government can be structured via petitions and majority votes over the internet,, it can then be leveraged in by simply refusing to spend money.
The 1% are vampires and the blood they require is money,, deny them the money and they will dry up quickly.

[
 
 
0 # fobsub 2011-12-05 00:24
Another thought would be to cancel the United States and the Federal Reserve,, start an entirely new government and monetary system (again legally via popular vote on the internet) and deny participation by selected corporations, previous banks, Wall Street etc. Start manufacturing in this country again.
 

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