Numerous laws enacted following the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center allow one to question whether the United States is committed to democracy and guided by the Constitution and the rule of law.
A particularly egregious constitutional abuse is the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. Sections 1021 and 1022 may allow the military to detain American citizens deemed a threat to national security in secret, indefinite detention, without charge or trial. These NDAA provisions violate the constitutional guarantee that the military cannot arrest American citizens within the United States.
The Act further denies the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process of law and the Sixth Amendment’s rights to a speedy and public trial, to challenge evidence, and to confront one’s accusers.
The NDAA also may endanger the First Amendment right of free speech and the Fourth Amendment right of probable cause because the 2001 USA Patriot Act expanded “material support for terrorism” to include speech and association by defendants who neither committed nor intended to support violence.
The unconstitutional provisions of the NDAA continue the abuses that were initiated with the USA Patriot Act that, among other abusive provisions, allows the FBI secretly to order anyone to produce business records or any other “tangible things”.
Additional examples of abuses to the Constitution and the rule of law include, but are not limited to: the failure to prosecute those responsible for torture carried out under the administration of former President George W. Bush as required by both United States and international law; the excessive use of the State Secrets Privilege to bar court scrutiny of governmental conduct; and the 2012 Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, which allows for the domestic use of armed surveillance drones without civil liberties protections; the undeclared wars against Iraq and Afghanistan; and the kill lists and targeted assassinations in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. The assassinations in Yemen have included American citizens.
Our president and congress members take an oath “to defend the Constitution of the United States.”
If “We the People” do not demand that they obey their oath, we are complicit in the ongoing transformation of our democracy into a surveillance state.
Steering Committee, Friends of the Constitution Coalition, Friday Harbor
— Editor’s note: Friends of the Constitution Coalition works in cooperation with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. The local coalition includes many members of the former San Juan Islands chapter of the ACLU.