The “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison, wrote, “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” Regrettably, tyranny and oppression have already arrived in America in certain sections of the Patriot Act, the TSA’s invasive procedures at our airports and presidential-ordered assassinations of U.S. citizens among other examples. Now, the Congress is poised to violate the Constitution again in the name of the War on Terror.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has co-authored S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Section 1031 of this bill will allow the U.S. military to capture and detain indefinitely an American citizen on U.S. soil who the President suspects is involved in terrorism. Thus, this bill will deny U.S. citizens basic Constitutional rights such as the right to a trial, to bail, to an attorney, to be presented with the charges against them and other rights and protections afforded to all Americans under the U.S. Constitution.
Furthermore, not only does this bill strip U.S. citizens suspected of being involved in terrorism of their Constitutional rights, Section 1031 also essentially repeals the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 by authorizing the U.S. military to perform law enforcement functions on American soil. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a staunch supporter of this bill, declared on the floor of the U.S. Senate this bill declares all of the United States is now part of the “battlefield,” and he apparently intends for U.S. troops to be engaged on the ground here in America.
Senators McCain and Graham are urging two dangerous proposals that will infringe substantially upon the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens and push America closer to a dictatorship under martial law. That is why I congratulate Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) for taking to the U.S. Senate floor recently to challenge Senator McCain and to defend the Constitutional rights of the American people. That is also why I support Senator Paul’s amendment, S. 1062, to strike the offending section, S. 1031, of the National Defense Authorization Act.
I am hopeful that because of the splurge of media attention, perhaps caused by the recent exchange on the Senate floor between Senators McCain and Paul, Senator Paul’s amendment will fare better than a similar amendment proposed by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO). Senator Udall’s amendment would have deleted Section 1031 and preserved the full Constitutional rights to U.S. citizens who are merely suspected of committing or supporting terrorism. Notably, Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) voted against Senator Udall’s amendment and thus against protecting the Constitutional rights of the American people.
We must not abandon the Constitution and the protections it provides to us even in the face of the threat of terrorism. It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” But, thankfully, in this particular case we do not need to choose between liberty and safety; we can have them both. The U.S. criminal code, criminal procedure and the Constitution permit law enforcement officials to arrest and detain U.S. citizens, and noncitizens for that matter, where there exists probable cause to believe they are attempting or conspiring to commit an act of terrorism in the future.
Senators McCain, Graham and Casey are proposing to grant the U.S. military the statutory authority to come onto U.S. soil and seize and detain indefinitely U.S. citizens suspected of being involved in terrorism while denying those same citizens their due process rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Those Americans who believe in the Constitution and who believe in the rule of law must fight for Senator Rand Paul’s amendment to restore the civil liberties and Constitutional rights to the American people. Without our Constitutional rights to due process and the rule of law, we have nothing left to defend ourselves from tyranny and oppression.
I am running for the Republican nomination to the United States Senate to restore freedom to America and to return our country to the Constitutional Republic created by our Founding Fathers and bestowed upon us.