I have been working on a memorial painting/installation for the victims of the Argentian "Dirty War." Up to 30,000 Argentians were "dissappeared" between 1976 and 1983 in a systematized action that is now qualified as state terrorism. Many of the prime players have recently been arrested, tried and sentenced but this does not undo the horrific years, the lives lost, the families ruined and the long term effects of a culture of fear.
During the process of researching this work, reading through the lengthy files of the CONADEP report, I have been impressed that the military junta in power during that time period "sold" the abductions, the torture, the incarceration and eventual executions — as "a war on terror." The victims, people from numerous walks of life, mostly young people, were guilty of little more than attending political rallies ... if that. Perhaps they has expressed displeasure with the administration or knew someone who did. In a word, at most, they were dissidents ...
The history is appaling and one wonders that such actions could be carried out so brazenly and with impunity. Why would the populace allow such a complete departure from justice? How could normal people become so care-less, let alone merciless? How can countrymen torture and kill fellow countrymen and feel justified in these actions?
Scroll forward to present day America, the land of freedom. Free speech being among the most sacred. Most of us may have never heard of NDAA. We live in a world of acronyms and, like phone numbers, there are way too many to commit to memory.
The National Defense Authorization Act is a federal law that specifies the expenditures and budgets of the U.S. Department of Defense. On Dec. 31, 2011, President Obama signed the act into law and it included some very alarming provisions. The Writ of Habeus Corpus is a writ (as distinct from right) that essentially guarantees that an accused person can request that a jailer produce a court order informing him or her as to why he is being detained. It is the provision by which we are able to demand a fair trial with a jury. Infringement on this writ was one of the fomenting factors of the American Revolution.
Citizens, legal residents and foreign visitors may request this writ from a judge. All are entitled to due process, including a fair trial before a jury of their peers. Congress may suspend the writ only "when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it."
Members of belligerent armed forces are subject to military law and are not covered by the Writ of Habeus Corpus ... provided they were captured in the theater of war. Citizens and lawful aliens may NOT be locked up without the writ if they are apprehended outside of the theater of war. Sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA apparently make it lawful for a person to be locked up without knowing why and "without trial until the end of the hostilities" (a vague date indeed).
If the Supreme Court ruled to overturn the incarceration, and they likely would, it still could take years for the person to move through the existent legal process to gain freedom. I am not a constitutional scholar, and I am not a paranoid nut, but this law furthers the groundwork for the sort of extra judicial punishment that is evidenced in repressive fascist states. As I read it, anyone the government decides is a threat to the safety of the public, may be arrested and imprisoned, indefinitely, without even explanation as to why ... and without a trial ... until "hostilities" are over.
Since the new "theater" of war has become the entire planet (Global War on Terror), the hostilities never need end.
I hope I am over reacting. If not, and to the extent I am onto a potentially huge invasion on our rights as citizens ... we may be seeing the last days of a land of the "Free" and the people who dare to speak up will indeed be "The Brave."
Now, a bit more than a decade into the twenty-first century, apparently, major legislation in our own country is undermining our right to dissent. I would like you to read this article on the tenth ammendment and specifically on the NDAA section pertinent to this issue.