The Soviet States of America

No. Really. I’m not exaggerating when I say I fear our Ruling Classes much more than I worry about some guys in tents beating a few drums. Permit me to cut and paste this in full:

Senate Set to Vote on Bill that Defines the U.S. as a Battlefield

The Senate is set to vote on a bill next week that would define the whole of the United States as a “battlefield” and allow the U.S. Military to arrest American citizens in their own back yard without charge or trial.

“The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself,” writes Chris Anders of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

Under the ‘worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial’ provision of S.1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which is set to be up for a vote on the Senate floor Monday, the legislation will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who supports the bill.

The bill was drafted in secret by Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), before being passed in a closed-door committee meeting without any kind of hearing. The language appears in sections 1031 and 1032 of the NDAA bill.

“I would also point out that these provisions raise serious questions as to who we are as a society and what our Constitution seeks to protect,” Colorado Senator Mark Udall said in a speech last week. One section of these provisions, section 1031, would be interpreted as allowing the military to capture and indefinitely detain American citizens on U.S. soil. Section 1031 essentially repeals the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 by authorizing the U.S. military to perform law enforcement functions on American soil. That alone should alarm my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but there are other problems with these provisions that must be resolved.”

This means Americans could be declared domestic terrorists and thrown in a military brig with no recourse whatsoever. Given that the Department of Homeland Security has characterized behavior such as buying gold, owning guns, using a watch or binoculars, donating to charity, using the telephone or email to find information, using cash, and all manner of mundane behaviors as potential indicators of domestic terrorism, such a provision would be wide open to abuse.

“American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?” asks Anders.
The ACLU is urging citizens to call their Senator and demand that the Udall Amendment be added to the bill, a change that would at least act as a check to prevent Americans being snatched off the streets without some form of Congressional oversight.

(Thanks to David Cox)

UPDATE: David Cox emails:

Earlier I emailed you about the report from that indicated the new NDAA created a battleground in the entire US and would allow for the detainment of US citizens without charges. The section referenced was 1031 and 1032. Section 1032 follows and specifically exempts US citizens from detention in military custody. You should issue a correction…
(b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-

(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.

(2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.
UPDATE 2 from David Cox: After a third reading of sections 1031 and 1032 I recognized where I was misled… This paragraph is worded cleverly. Rather than stating: “Detainment of persons in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States” which would dissolve all authority of this section when a US citizen is concerned, it states, “The Requirement to detain” does not extend to US citizens. This means that the section does have the authority to be applied to US citizens but is not REQUIRED. Thus, this act does in fact open US citizens up to military detainment. I’m sorry for my earlier confusion…

UPDATE 3 Eric Phillips emails:

Concerning your update of the “Senate Set to Vote on Bill that Defines the U.S. as a Battlefield,” the ACLU is warning that the provision that exempts U.S. citizens doesn’t apply to the worst part of the bill. Here’s their response (

Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1013 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.
But you don’t have to believe us. Instead, read what one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham said about it on the Senate floor: “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

There you have it — indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial. And the Senate is likely to vote on it Monday or Tuesday.

Please note the bipartisan nature of this attempt by our Ruling Classes to transform the U.S. into a lawless police state overnight. It makes clear that the real power dynamic in the U.S. is not Dem vs. GOP, but Ruling Class vs. populace. It will be sold, of course, as “keeping you safe”. But it effectively allows the state to strip you of your rights by fiat and imprison you forever if Caesar so pleases.

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  • B.E. Ward

    But.. but.. John McCain is pro-life!

    • Mark Shea

      Well, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

    • orthros

      News of his pro-life fervor has been greatly exaggerated

      • Mark Shea

        Clearly you hate God and babies and want Obama to win.

  • Romulus

    If only the Emperor knew!

  • Bush was (rightfully) excoriated for warrantless wiretaps, and this story is hardly making a splash right now. What gives?

    • Confederate Papist

      Do you really have to ask?

  • Patrick

    What can be done to stop them?

    • Mark Shea

      Call the White House. Tell Obama to keep his promise to veto the bill. Urge him to scrawl, “Not just no, but HELL no!” in the margin and send copies back to Congress for them to contemplate. For good measure, vote the bastards who voted for it out of office and see what you can do to have them tried for treason while you are at it.

      • S. Murphy

        Oh, cool! Can I detain congresscritters? Can I, huh? That would be so much more fun than voting.

        • Mark Shea

          Only if you detain them indefinitely and with charge or benefit of counsel.

          • S. Murphy

            I wonder if even Illinois would take ’em?

      • David Ferguson

        Um, I think that Obama would sign this bill faster than he would bow to the next foreign diplomat who he meets.

        • Mark Shea

          And yet, he has said he will veto the bill, so there’s cause for hope. Of course, everything depends on the doing and not the yakking, but still, we should hope.

          • Alas, what BHO says to Tweedledum is often different from what he says to Tweedledee, and what he does is sometimes different from both. I don’t trust Our Glorious Leader around a glass corner; yet I hope he has the stones to carry through a veto on this.

      • Mouse

        I predict that Obama will at the last moment find some excuse not to veto the bill, will claim to be signing it “reluctantly” or some other hogwash. After all, this is the man who just approved the direct killing of a US citizen on another country’s soil. Do we really think he is opposed to this kind of thing?

        I have no patience with those who downplay the seriousness of the crimes committed by terrorists/their supporters….but to just kill a US Citizen without a trial – that is a huge sign of incipient tyranny.

  • Dan C

    It is touching to see the Democrats and Republicans working so well together. I think I’m getting misty….

  • Margaret
    • Margaret

      Gah– the section I wanted to quote didn’t come through: “If you’re an American citizen and you betray your country, you’re going to be held in military custody and you’re going to be questioned about what you know,” he said, “and you’re not going to be given a lawyer if our national security interests dictate that you not be given a lawyer and go into the criminal justice system, because we’re not fighting a crime, we’re fighting a war.”

      • Brr … now all we need is a piece of Orwellian doublespeak to pound “aid and comfort” into a comfortably vague term.

  • WJA

    I read the text of the two sections of the bill and they do not appear to support the interpretation you, or rather the person you’ve quoted, gives them.

    The bill appears to confirm what is already the law: that the military may detain enemy combatants engaged in acts of war against the United States, including enemy combatants engaged in acts of war on American soil, and including enemy combatants who are American citizens. Military detention of American citizens engaged in acts of war against the United States, including such citizen-combatants captured on American soil, has occurred throughout our history. The most obvious example of this is the Civil War, when the federal government detained thousands of American citizens serving in the Confederate Army, but also in WWII, when eight German saboteurs — including two American citizens — were captured on American soil. (See Operation Pastorius.) The Padilla case is a more recent example. (See the Fourth Circuit’s opinion in Padilla v. Hanft.)

    The bill does not appear to have anything to do with the Posse Comitatus Act,either. That Act, as I understand it, prohibits the use of the military to enforce domestic law. (Wikipedia has a nice article.)

    It seems to me that the real controversy is whether the United States is engaged in a “war” with Al-Qaeda. If it isn’t, then the laws of war don’t apply to persons acting on behalf of Al-Qaeda, the military has no business detaining them, and they should be prosecuted like any other ordinary criminal. But if it is — as the Congress (under both parties), the President (in two administrations under two parties), and the Supreme Court have concluded — then then the laws of war do apply and enemy combatants may be detained by the military, regardless of citizenship or where they’re captured (with lots of caveats about the availability of habeas review and the requirements of due process as set forth by the Supreme Court in the Hamdi case).

    (P.S. I tried to include links to most of my references, but your spam filter kept accusing me of spamminess, so I stripped most of them out, which seems to have made it happy.)

    • Mark Shea

      See the last paragraph. Lindsey Graham certainly believes it empowers the state to use the military to arrest and detain you indefinitely and without appeal.

  • Some people will see “the report from…” and dismiss whatever follows.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. Many people are in love with the genetic fallacy and believe that information is rendered ritually unclean when it comes from the wrong source. However, I presume my readers are capable of elementary reasoning skills.

      • Certainly some will run down the references, like WJA above. I think the problem isn’t that in wartime the military can detain anyone anywhere. That’s always been the case. The problem is we’re in a war that won’t end. No Congress or President is ever going to declare an end to hostilities.

        • Mark Shea

          The problem is that we are a nation of fat, dumb and happy cowards who imagine that ours is the very first generation to face evil (a favorite trope among Generation Narcissus). America has *always* been in danger from the moment it was born. But it was founded by people who were not such miserable cowards that they sold their freedom to the first shyster who promised them comfort, safety and a fat belly. What has changed is not the fact that we live in a dangerous world, but ourselves. We no longer want to pay the price of liberty which is constant vigilance. Chesterton had it right. Despotism is typically born from a tired democracy. Our Ruling Classes get away with such grabs for tyranny if we let them.

          It’s weird to find myself in the position of praying that Obama, of all people, do the right thing and veto this bill. If he does, he deserves our undiluted praise for doing so (though he still has major problems). Of course, everything depends on his carrying through on his promise.

        • Dan C

          The War Without End was once termed the Cold War. Born amidst this era, I have known only the rare times of peace. Bush I sent troops away for Christmas to some new international locale each year. Clinton did Somalia (in a Bush I follow-through) and engaged in the Baltics. Since 2001, there has been “The War on Terror.”

          Oh so very dramatic.

  • amichel

    Why Lindsey, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for South Carolina?

    • chris

      Oh my! First, South Carolina is not Lindsey’s to have. Secondly, of course, while the land of South Carolina compares not to the created image and likeness of God, this does not mean it should be besmirched. Tellingly, St. Thomas did not address his comments about Wales to a Welshman, so I think your comment only ought to be addressed to those who live far from and only have a narrow understanding of this state. Perhaps it makes sense to someone like you.

  • Peggy R

    Not much more to say except that I concur with you. Time to hit the phones to the House to stop this. Or has it passed the House yet?

    • Mark Shea

      Dunno. i think it’s only passed the Senate.

  • John

    I am most worried by the current attitude that our governing class has toward the Catholic Church…how long before we are considered to be domestic terrorists. Actually, come to think of it, this seems to be the view many of them have toward pro-lifers. A new age of Martyrs in America is on the ever nearing horizon.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes, well, that was why I kept warning brain dead “conservative Catholics” that their enthusiasm for torture could come back and bite them on the ass. Consequentialism is not just evil, it’s stupid too.

    • Makarios

      Oh, yes, John, the Roman Catholic Church is terribly persecuted in the United States. That’s why only six of the nine justices of the Supreme Court are Catholics.

      Give me a break!

  • B.E. Ward

    I’d love to see a list of other countries where the military/government would have such power against its own citizens. I imagine we’re in some very interesting company.

  • Deacon Don

    Why is this surprising? Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was on the government’s “hit list” and was “neutralized” without the benefit of charges, a trial, a defense, etc. I do not doubt that he was not a nice guy, but the targeted killing of a citizen by the Empire has taken us to a new low. Add that to the fact that Fr. John Dear has been on a “terrorist list” for a long time for his (albeit civilly disobedient) non-violent protests and has been stripped of the right to vote. Everyone who is crying that the Catholic Church is nearing persecution has it wrong. What will be persecuted will be ANY group with a sense of morality beyond utilitarianism, compassion beyond the profit motive, or any questioning of military-industrial primacy in our national psyche. To what has the Empire driven us when rational, moral people start sounding like what used to be called “pinko commies”?

  • Robeye

    They say this bill does not include citizens of the US. Really?? So, if a citizen, as the likes of another Timothy McVey are found, are they saying they will not detain them because they are a citizen. Bull crap!! If the government “feels” that movements from groups such as the Tea Party, the Occupy movement or even a million man march were threatening to the security of the US government, you can be sure the National Guard, Army or any other US military force can and will detain, restrain and/or imprison any of these people. You have to be blind to not see what is going on. They…the government…can see what is happening in the world. Unrest with citizens and how their governments are running things. With such unrest, it is only time before the US feels the same threat. I believe the word is called TYRANNY!!

  • If you have a spare hour and a half, listen to this fine adaptation of the late John Mortimer’s “Rumpole and the Reign of Terror,” a really good courtroom drama about this very subject in England:

    Part One:
    Part Two:

  • The biggest surprise to me was the number of Democrats to jump the fence on this provision … including Dan Inouye, for cryin’ out loud! Hey, Dan! You remember the “internment camps” your relatives and fellow ethnics were stuck in while you were earning your Medal of Honor in Italy? Hell-O! What part of “enemy alien” did you miss out on? Does none of this ring a bell?

  • Think of the bright side. If Obama passes this bill he could simply make everyone who signed it disappear into FEMA Prisons or Gitmo for the next say, 100 or so years.

  • Mouse

    This is nothing but the Powers That Be using terrorism as an excuse to enact a national and eventually a global tyranny. Which we knew was coming (at least, some of us did) but it shocks me that it is so blantant, and coming so quickly. That is is happening under Obama should surprise no one, given his background. Communists were from the left, remember?

    You are exactly right about Elites vs. Populace, not Left vs. Right. In fact, I think that the whole inflammatory Left vs. Right business (especially on tv commentary shows) is hogwash to absorb the minds of the populace while the real powers behind it all work their will upon the globe.

    We all need to decide now whether we plan to resist, being willing to give up everything, or whether we plan to be stooges, particularly those of us who are Christian, because it will come to that, in my opinion.

    Also, considering that this Administration has already labeled pro-life activists as potential domestic terrorists, we can see where that will go: Peacefully praying the rosary before an abortion site or offering to help a woman not kill her own child will get you imprisonment for life, or some such.

    The ACLU is right on this one – I despise some of their work, because they work against the rights of human beings in the womb, but on this they are correct indeed.

    Soviet States of America indeed.

  • Mouse

    Wow, after looking at the ACLU site – I didn’t know how far off track they were, it’s worse than I thought. Which gives me this thought: If left-wingnuts like them and conservative Catholics like most of us here AGREE, that is a sure sign that the bill in question is wicked!!