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Turley writes: "President Barack Obama rang in the New Year by signing the NDAA law with its provision allowing him to indefinitely detain citizens. It was a symbolic moment to say the least. With Americans distracted with drinking and celebrating, Obama signed one of the greatest rollbacks of civil liberties in the history of our country...and citizens partied on blissfully into the New Year."

American flag behind barbed wire, and all that implies, 06/15/09. (photo: File)
American flag behind barbed wire, and all that implies, 06/15/09. (photo: File)

The NDAA Is Our Mayan Moment

By Jonathan Turley, Jonathan Turley's Blog

02 January 12


resident Barack Obama rang in the New Year by signing the NDAA law with its provision allowing him to indefinitely detain citizens. It was a symbolic moment to say the least. With Americans distracted with drinking and celebrating, Obama signed one of the greatest rollbacks of civil liberties in the history of our country ... and citizens partied on blissfully into the New Year.

Ironically, in addition to breaking his promise not to sign the law, Obama broke his promise on signing statements and attached a statement that he really does not want to detain citizens indefinitely.

Obama insisted that he signed the bill simply to keep funding for the troops. It was a continuation of the dishonest treatment of the issue by the White House since the law first came to light. As discussed earlier, the White House told citizens that the President would not sign the NDAA because of the provision. That spin ended after sponsor Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) went to the floor and disclosed that it was the White House and insisted that there be no exception for citizens in the indefinite detention provision.

The latest claim is even more insulting. You do not "support our troops" by denying the principles for which they are fighting. They are not fighting to consolidate authoritarian powers in the President. The "American way of life" is defined by our Constitution and specifically the Bill of Rights. Moreover, the insistence that you do not intend to use authoritarian powers does not alter the fact that you just signed an authoritarian measure. It is not the use but the right to use such powers that defines authoritarian systems.

The almost complete failure of the mainstream media to cover this issue is shocking. Many reporters have bought into the spin of the Obama Administration as they did the spin over torture by the Bush Administration. Even today reporters refuse to call waterboarding torture despite the long line of cases and experts defining waterboarding as torture for decades. On the NDAA, reporters continue to mouth the claim that this law only codifies what is already the law. That is not true. The Administration has fought any challenges to indefinite detention to prevent a true court review. Moreover, most experts agree that such indefinite detention of citizens violates the Constitution.

There are also those who continue the long-standing effort to excuse Obama's horrific record on civil liberties by either blaming others or the times. One successful myth is that there is an exception for citizens. The White House is saying that changes to the law made it unnecessary to veto the legislation. That spin is facially ridiculous. The changes were the inclusion of some meaningless rhetoric after key amendments protecting citizens were defeated. The provision merely states that nothing in the provisions could be construed to alter Americans' legal rights. Since the Senate clearly views citizens are not just subject to indefinite detention but even execution without a trial, the change offers nothing but rhetoric to hide the harsh reality. The Administration and Democratic members are in full spin - using language designed to obscure the authority given to the military. The exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement is the screening language for the next section, 1031, which offers no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial.

Obama could have refused to sign the bill and the Congress would have rushed to fund the troops. Instead, as confirmed by Sen. Levin, the White House conducted a misinformation campaign to secure this power while portraying Obama as some type of reluctant absolute ruler, or as Obama maintains, a reluctant President with dictatorial powers.

Most Democratic members joined their Republican colleagues in voting for this un-American measure. Some Montana citizens are moving to force the removal of these members who they insist betrayed their oaths of office and their constituents. Most citizens, however, are continuing to treat the matter as a distraction from the holiday cheer.

For civil libertarians, the NDAA is our Mayan moment. 2012 is when the nation embraced authoritarian powers with little more than a pause between rounds of drinks.

So here is a resolution better than losing weight this year ... make 2012 the year you regained your rights.

Here is the signing statement attached to the bill:

Office of the Press Secretary
December 31, 2011

Statement by the President on H.R. 1540

Today I have signed into law H.R. 1540, the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012." I have signed the Act chiefly because it authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, crucial services for service members and their families, and vital national security programs that must be renewed. In hundreds of separate sections totaling over 500 pages, the Act also contains critical Administration initiatives to control the spiraling health care costs of the Department of Defense (DoD), to develop counterterrorism initiatives abroad, to build the security capacity of key partners, to modernize the force, and to boost the efficiency and effectiveness of military operations worldwide.

The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists. Over the last several years, my Administration has developed an effective, sustainable framework for the detention, interrogation and trial of suspected terrorists that allows us to maximize both our ability to collect intelligence and to incapacitate dangerous individuals in rapidly developing situations, and the results we have achieved are undeniable. Our success against al-Qa'ida and its affiliates and adherents has derived in significant measure from providing our counterterrorism professionals with the clarity and flexibility they need to adapt to changing circumstances and to utilize whichever authorities best protect the American people, and our accomplishments have respected the values that make our country an example for the world.

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+58 # Activista 2012-01-02 18:54
"execution without a trial"
Happy New Year 2012 Americans!
+27 # wantrealdemocracy 2012-01-03 10:19
Time to get involved with Occupy.
+70 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-02 19:19
1. If it codifies existing law (which it does not) then it codifies unconstitutiona l law. Besides, if it were existing law, then there is no need to codify it. Let existing law be litigated.

2. Even if Obama never uses it to hold Americans indefinitely, does his forbearance bar his successor? Twenty years from now, when all this up-roar is forgotten? NO.

3. The man is a liar, especially in light of the fact that Feinstein offered and amendment to exclude Americans on American soil and it was defeated. What's up folks?
+63 # Rick Levy 2012-01-02 19:32
Have you no shame, Mr. President?
+33 # Averett 2012-01-02 23:30
This is the perfect time (a fractured and marginalized Republican Party and a Democratic incumbent who has lost his base) to have a credible, progressive third party candidate. I'm so tired of realpolitiks. Time to demand ImaginePolitik. net.
+15 # Karlus58 2012-01-03 10:34
I'm not sure of the solution here, but I am with you on the hopes of a 3rd party candidate. I grieve for us all and absolutely appalled at the President. Who has something around his neck that he would act in such unconstitutiona l and un-American fashion?
+8 # Karlus58 2012-01-03 10:38
What on earth is happening here? Seems we're heading for something unimaginable!
Democrats and Republicans? What's the difference now? With all the lunacy in the Republican goodness...Ron Paul seems to be a sensible alternative.
+2 # 666 2012-01-03 12:36
they just forged a 3rd party; we now have 3 (more or less except in name, although only 2 are exercising power at present):
1) the demo-repub authoritarian (fascists)
2) the teabag anarchists
3) the left socialist-anarc hists
+48 # fdawei 2012-01-02 23:33
Indeed, what happened to the Feinstein amendment? Why was it defeated and why didn't it find more support from her allies and more important, why didn't the lamestream media focus on this...they are in the pocket of the president and his fascist allies. Huck Mucus is right in his portrayal of Obama. The president unfortunately, has betrayed his base and the trust all his ardent supporters placed in him. But more important, he betrayed his oath as a constitutional lawyer. (or should that have been liar?). Shame on you Mr. President. You have taken a page from the repressive regimes America supports around the world. In China, we witness this on a daily basis...disappe arance of lawyers, activists, anyone who challenges the government. Has this been done specially for the brave Mr. Manning and eventually for Assange should he have the misfortune to be extradited to the Repressive States of America?
+11 # 2012-01-03 00:34
"He betrayed his oath as a constitutional lawyer. (or should that have been liar?"... "he has betrayed his base and the trust all his ardent suppoters placed in him"..
+13 # LML 2012-01-03 02:50
That did not occur to me, but now that you mention it, I a, sure that it has been done in order to aim at the brave Mr. Manning & his publisher....
It is time for the Nobel Committee to award the Jobel Peace Prize to Bradley Manning
+26 # Holmes 2012-01-02 23:49
I note that from another blog, that the congress is not exempt.

On a more serious note, what about the whole High Court?

Is this the plan, a complete takeover by the generals? Seems some what familiar, I guess the 1% have copied the 1% of South America to maintain power.

Time for a Reformation in the Churches to regain the concept that all are equal before God, and of the restoration of Government of the people, for the people and by the people; with the definition of person hood being that one has been born of woman, not via legal constructs as for corporations and other human constructs which have no blood in their veins.

Otherwise I am not happy as the radioactive fall out will even affect my grandchildren as well as my self on the other side of the globe. This seems to be a drift back to the worst of the cold war with reckless attempts to impose power on all, only now the USA seems to be the villain.
+42 # 2012-01-03 00:28
If Obama had any character or respect for the US and the inalienable rights of freedom, liberty and due process for American citizens he would have refused to sign that bill. He is a hypocrite and a narcisstic opportunist who will use any means to an end. Anyone who votes for Obama is compromising themselves and our country. Shame on you, Mr.President.
+15 # James Marcus 2012-01-03 00:36
Not into name calling; truth telling.
Obama is a Liar, A Pied Piper, A Coward, and a Traitor.
And he is in Good Company, in Washington, where our 'Elected', In Congress, proposed and passed this NDAA Monstrosity, by a large majority;
Constitutionali ty, likely, will be challenged before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court is now dominated by the Same Money.... that owns the Rest-of-Them (and the Media, as well)
+5 # uglysexy 2012-01-03 02:24
dream on regarding the third party...yes this is a horrific step toward fascism.....dis appeared people etc....but honestly much longer does the world have. we're in a depression, the world is brimming with mega weapons, people and discord and competition between enemies. And carbon fuels are not ever going to be discontinued before the next megafold conflict that will be exponentially many times greater than wwII...extingui shing most luding humans
You know it's true ...and so do I
+6 # Dion Giles 2012-01-03 02:54
When he talks he lies. When he signs he tells the truth. Many voters may care about the message in the signature more than they care about the rivalry between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. 2012 will need to be a year of DEEDS that justify working and voting for Tweedledum merely to keep Tweedledee out. And total absence of deeds that might justify leaving Tweedledum to twist in the wind. How can this message be relayed to the White House?
+17 # John Gill 2012-01-03 04:04
What really gnaws at me,is that I can't see our government engaging in this kind of iron-fisted, totalitarian behavior unless they see something in our future that they are not sharing with us, something that could create such panic and wild confusion that they would need to set our own military loose on us just to maintain the peace. Even more bothersome, is the idea that it might be this very bill's signing that tips the balance in our country, creating out of our government's fear of disorder, what could become a self fulfilling prophecy of blood and chaos. Up until this New Year, I was generally disposed to offer the old bronx cheer to those loudmouthed racist rednecks who screamed irrational warnings through their unfortunate dentistry of Obama's fascist plans for the heartland,those folks who spun dire fantasies of black helicopters swooping low over suburbia, of FEMA concentration camps, where white christian babies were being fattened in preparation of some diabolical, progressive/mus lim feast of satan. But now, what has the man I helped elect to the White House done, but give to those same people, silver platter proof of the very real threat his administration' s handling of NDAA poses to the rights and freedoms of our citizenry.
+9 # jcdav 2012-01-03 06:48
So... this has to be unconstitutiona l..however it will take many years to get it to the SC.. the intervening years present a window for alot of mischief including the military takeover (sponsored by????)... or a mil. takeover and return to the constitution?? Not likely a very progressive result either the two pending internet laws restrict our communication and the FEMA camps get populated...see you there.
+10 # bdeja 2012-01-03 07:17
There has been a constant motion under President Obama to continue the total erosion of much of the Bill Of Rights which won such dedication in the Bush Administration. Our country is in dire shape wherein we seem to resent be presented with the real dirt of our actions. Instead there is always "reality t.v." where we show great concern for the participants. Perhaps we need a t.v show where the participants must break the chains of their military/indust rial masters in order to win a new car
+12 # stonecutter 2012-01-03 07:43
The truth is that most of what the president says and does in office is symbolic, except when he acts as CINC. Most of us who voted for him in 2008, let alone the passionate supporters who worked hard for his candidacy and election all over the country, could never have imagined on that glorious Election Night,when he paraded on stage with his wife and kids and many of us cried tears of joy and relief that Bush was finally gone and a true human being was taking his place, that 3 years later we'd be looking at him and seeing Bush all over again, albeit with a higher IQ, a galactically improved stage presence, and a slight tan.

When it comes to foreign policy and counter-terrori sm strategy, we're living through a fundamental, seamless continuation of the Bush/Cheney "One Percent Doctrine", characterized in Ron Suskind's 2006 eponymous book ("If there's a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis ...It's about our response"--Dick Cheney). It may be effectively wrapped in faux-Democratic makeup and political theater, but Obama buys it hook, line and sinker. The NDAA bill is just the latest manifestation of his allegiance, and the transparent spin appended to it, except this time a line has been crossed into a no-man's land of inchoate fascism...right here in River City.
Which "right" is next to go? Scary.
+18 # RMDC 2012-01-03 07:43
Here's Obama's signing statement --

"that allows us to maximize both our ability to collect intelligence and to incapacitate dangerous individuals in rapidly developing situations, and the results we have achieved are undeniable."

By "incapacitate dangerous individuals" does he mean "murder." I think so. Anwar al Alaki was not dangerous. He was a YouTube preacher. He believed that the US was wrong in its wars against Muslims. I do too. Does that make me "dangerous." Since when did beliefs, opinions, and conscience become dangerous. Only fascist government are afraid of people's opinions. There's nothing wrong and in fact everything good in saying out loud when your government has gone astray. That's pretty much why RSN exists. I guess RSM will be declared dangerous some day.
+20 # BobbyLip 2012-01-03 08:09
Every Representative and every Senator who voted for this excrescence of a bill and the President who signed it into "law" has broken his oath to defend the Constitution. If that's not grounds for impeachment, what the hell is?
As for the idea that a sham democracy can be repaired by sham elections and a sham Supreme Court, good luck to all of us.
How did the Mayans know?
+8 # wantrealdemocracy 2012-01-03 10:18
If we can't impeach the evil 'Representative s' who voted for this abomination, we sure can vote them out! We must not send anyone in Congress today back for another term.

Of course there is the change that the votes will not be counted. If that happens, we must have a revolution. Know that the army will be used to 'pacify' you---but we must stand up and fight for democracy.
+17 # RMDC 2012-01-03 08:26
"Our success against al-Qa'ida and its affiliates and adherents has derived in significant measure from providing our counterterroris m professionals with the clarity and flexibility they need to adapt to changing circumstances and to utilize whichever authorities best protect the American people, and our accomplishments have respected the values that make our country an example for the world."

You really have to marvel at this language. First of all, al Queda was a creation of the CIA. And in reality it was never a threat to anyone. If you believe that al Queda blew up the WTC, then a police action would be appropriate. If you don't believe it, then mentioning al Queda here is just a red herring.

"Adherents and affiliates" -- the USG can declare anyone to be a supporter of al Queda. If you are anti-war, you can be said to be giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

This language basically says that Obama can send his special ops anywhere he wants to do any kind of job he wants them to do. This includes murdering or disappearing anyone on earth.

And what kind of example for the world is "our country" becoming? The US is now the model of fascism, imperialism, torture, assassination, and just basic criminality. The whole world knows this. Some Americans who watch too much TV don't know it. Obama is now making it very plain that he will do anything he wants at anytime -- including murder, torture, disappearance, assassination.
+6 # Matt R. 2012-01-03 08:47
Ron Paul is the only major Presidential candidate to openly talk about NDAA and strongly oppose it.
+5 # jwb110 2012-01-03 12:13
America is now officially a Banana Republic!
+8 # slowmo 2012-01-03 15:08
Here's an excerpt from a letter to my son, who lives overseas......

I tried to put politics away after Obama got elected and enjoy my later years but that just couldn't be the case. He has turned out to be worse than W. Sometimes I wonder if Dick Cheney is still in charge. I was hoping that somebody would challenge Obama, it's not going to happen. In all good conscience, I cannot and will not vote for him again. Ya, let the reanderthals take over, what an awful lot of total fruitcakes they are! We seem to have nothing to look forward to but more & more corporate control and more wars. Maybe it's best that the reanderthals are in charge, for I believe it's time for the Occupy movement to take front & center. I long to join them! Imagine demonstrations big enough to dwarf the Vietnam war! Right now I am mourning the final death throw of Democracy, for Obama signed into law the defense authorization bill. Any American citizen can now be plucked off the street under the pretense of terrorrism. No charges need to be filed, no trial, & they can be held indefinately by the military. Political prisoners!!!!!! ! It's only a matter of time before it happens unless the monkeys on the Supreme Court can find it in their heart to stop our march to Nazi madness!
+5 # Dion Giles 2012-01-03 15:57
"Any American citizen can now be plucked off the street under the pretense of terrorism."

It's already started in Australia where the secret police abused "terror" legislation to pluck Dr. Mohamed Haneef off the street and lock him up, and in Britain where a gang of officially licensed murderers chased Jean Charles de Menezes into a train, seized him and executed him with seven spaced shots into the head. Strictly the victims weren't Australian or British citizens though de Menezes was executed because the hyped up killers mistook him for one. Neither victim was a terrorist. The fascist disease is global, and due to hit America with a vengeance.
+3 # Dion Giles 2012-01-03 15:34
Maybe 2012 will tell for the first time whether the Second Amendment really has a purpose other than to arm the self-indulgent to shoot the forest fauna and their fellow American civilians.
+4 # paulrevere 2012-01-03 17:24
Today...not a peep outa Hartmann...not a peep outa Schultz...not a peep outa Rhodes...WTF?!!
-3 # smilodon1 2012-01-03 20:05
According to Norman Goldman, who is a lawyer and has read the law, there is no provision in it about indefinite detainment of U. S. Citizens. Even President Obama has said so.
+1 # CTPatriot 2012-01-04 04:22
I'll take the ACLU's team of lawyers along with Glenn Greenwald and Jonathan Turley of your lawyer any day of the week. Just as loyal Bushies could always find an authoritarian enabling attorney to support Bush's assaults on our civil rights, ao apparently can the loyal ObamaBots.

Now, back to OFA with you. Be gone. Go play in your Democratic Party echo chamber.
+2 # Buddha 2012-01-04 10:43
9-11 and the "GWOT" is our Reichstag Fire that is being used to lay the groundwork for the coming Authoritarian Police State. Keep your eye on countries that don't follow in our footsteps and make escape plans while we still can.
0 # Anarchist 23 2012-01-04 17:36
Well said, Buddha. Ever since the assassination of JFK and then his brother RFK, the fascists and militarists have been rounding us up, cornering us with all sorts of laws for our safety and promoting 'enemies'. The 'Official History ' of the JFK assassination and 911 cannot hold up against the forensics of facts and yet the myths are still believed in even as they are used to strip away the Constitution. Read some history, like the newly re-released 'Rise & Fall of the Third Reich' and then say 'It can't happen here' It already has-all that is left is the end-game of check-points, camps and military (or our militarized police) constantly patrolling the streets. There are already dawn raids and secret prisons and unlimited detention for undocumented emigrants-'Firs t they came for the .... and I didn't speak up' to paraphrase Nieimoeller. Last they come for you-we are all in this together -the international 99%!
0 # wrodwell 2012-01-05 13:58
The disingenuous Brown Bush speaks............
Is anyone really, REALLY listening?

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