From Amnesty International by way of the Huffington Post we hear: Senate Introduces Disastrous New Detention Bill, part of SB1867, the National Defense Authorization bill. When I first read about this I thought it had to be a hoax. I couldn’t believe that even a Congresscritter would be stupid enough to vote for something like this. But a quick perusal of Google News confirmed that some members of Congress, not satisfied with merely abrogating their oaths of office, are intent upon positively shredding the Constitution. And quite possibly starting a civil war while they are at it…
Section 1031 of the bill extends the Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed after the September 11th attacks to encompass any individual who has “substantially supported” Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces.”
This is extraordinarily vague. The phrase “associated forces” is so flexible that it can be used to encompass almost any militant Islamic group in existence from Indonesia to Nigeria. It might include political parties who share some of the militants’ aims but not their methods — like the Hizb ut Tahrir movement active in Western Europe and Australia.
I’m sure that conservatives have visions of Occupy-ers being rounded up and incarcerated dancing in their heads. They should bear in mind Thomas Paine’s admonition: “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” Any law that conservatives can use to sweep up liberal protesters can also be used by liberals to sweep up conservative protesters.
The major difference between the two groups is that conservative protesters tend to have principles they are willing to die for, which means they have principles they are willing to kill for (remember the armed conservatives showing up at Occupy protests with signs saying “we don’t agree with them but we support their right to protest”). This is where the first part of the civil war threat comes in. When troops start collecting people into cattle cars to send them off to the modern-day gulag, do you think all of us are going to go along meekly or duck down in hopes we’ll get eaten last?
Blogger Mike Vanderboegh was once asked to boil down the pro-gun position into a single sentence. His reply was elegant and straightforward: “If you try to take our firearms, we will kill you.” He goes on to point out that if even 3% (the percentage of Colonists who fought in the Revolution) of American gun owners are the “cold dead hands” type, that means that there are three million well-armed individuals willing to fight and kill for their freedoms (all their freedoms, not just gun rights).
And remember, an awful lot of these three million can (and regularly do) drop a deer at 500+ yards. Remember too that in 1999 Bill Clinton expanded the rules of engagement in Serbia to include “the political leadership, news media and the intellectual underpinning of his enemy’s war effort.” As Mike V. asks:
They will fight to the last ATF agent or to the last oath-breaking soldier. Will they fight to the first senior bureaucrat, the second Congressman, the third newspaper editor, the fourth Senator, the fifth White House aide? Can they stand Bill Clinton’s rules of engagement?
That is the first prong of the threat of civil war. The second comes by way of a group known as The Oathkeepers. These are current and former military, law enforcement and safety personnel who have vowed to honor the oaths they once swore. To uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.
Go to their website, click on the Ten Orders We Will Not Obey link and scroll down to #3: “We will NOT obey any order to detain American citizens as ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ or to subject them to trial by military tribunal.” Even if there are only a few thousand active duty military personnel who subscribe to the Oathkeeper philosophy (and I can pretty well guarantee there are a lot more than that) imagine the chaos and disruption those few thousand could cause.
Now imagine that at the height of this disruption the currently serving Oathkeepers sit down and refuse to follow orders they believe to be unlawful. What can the leadership do, call out more soldiers in the hopes that those troops will follow the illegal orders? Do they dare take that chance? And if they try to force men to act in opposition to their conscience, how long before they start getting mass desertions and outright mutiny?
Finally, many of us have read and taken to heart Solzhenitsyn’s admonishment:
And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.
This law, if passed, will open up one ginormous can of worms and give politicians and bureaucrats a new appreciation for the term “unintended consequences.”