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NDAA legislation negates civil rights

Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 07:09

Earlier this week, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Raymond Lohier issued a stay regarding the ruling of an indefinite detention ban as constitutional or not. The stay is in response to U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest’s ruling last week against the Obama administration. Forrest issued a permanent injunction against section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, stating that it violates the First and Fifth Amendments. Forrest said that the NDAA fails to “pass constitutional muster” and that the legislation had a "chilling impact on First Amendment rights.” The stay is in effect until Sept. 28, at which point a three-judge panel will review the legislation. Forrest’s original injunction was issued on behalf of a group of journalists and activists, including former New York Times foreign correspondent Chris Hedges and MIT professor Noam Chomsky.

Section 1021 grants the executive branch power to detain, without trial, anyone who is associated with or supports al-Qaida, the Taliban and associated forces. This includes Americans. As Forrest explained earlier this week, “First Amendment rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and cannot be legislated away." This legislation sets a very dangerous precedent with regard to civilian rights, one that can easily become a slippery slope.

New guidelines set forth in the FBI’s “domestic terrorism” training program grant far too much leniency in unlawfully entering civilians’ homes without prior evidence or warrant and also provide blanket definitions for “terrorists,” making it easy for agents to operate under the vague descriptions.

In March 2009 the FBI added a classification defining “American Islam Extremism.” Included in targeted domestic terrorism groups are animal rights organizations such as the Humane Society and the Animal Liberation Front, both labeled as “eco-terrorist” organizations. Anarchist extremists are loosely defined as “criminals seeking an ideology to justify their activities” who are “not dedicated to a particular cause.”

The legislation provides far too much power to the government to detain who it pleases, whenever it pleases. These classifications grant the FBI and Department of Justice free rein to practically invent terrorists on the spot. Section 1021 ushers in a new wave of McCarthyism into the 21st century, allowing the government to throw civil liberties out the window in the event of any suspicion, regardless of whether there is any evidence to support it.

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