The NDAA: Just one more link in the chain of tyranny

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James Corbett
Stewart Rhodes
January 16, 2012


The NDAA: Just one more link in the chain of tyranny
by grtv

With the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act into law, more Americans than ever before are wondering how the country could have descended so quickly into a police state. Far from a unique or isolated act, however, the NDAA is just the latest entry in a long list of steps toward the codification of outright martial law.

Find out more about the history of this agenda in this week's GRTV Backgrounder.


Each year, the United States Department of Defense budget and expenditures are approved by Congress, which must pass a National Defense Authorization Act in order to fund the DoD.

The most recent bill, however, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, shocked many by containing an extraordinary provision allowing for the indefinite detention without trial of anyone even suspected of providing support to individuals or groups identified as terrorists. Although this represents little change from the US government?s modus operandi in waging the so-called war on terror, many were amazed to discover that this provision specifically applies to American citizens, who can now be detained by American military personnel anywhere in the world, including on US soil, and held indefinitely without trial.

Perhaps it is not surprising that President Obama chose New Year?s Eve as the date to sign the NDAA, as the revelry of the holiday predictably distracted Americans from the event. Particularly remarkable is the fact that the legislation has been almost universally identified as an overt act of tyranny by commentators of all political stripes, perhaps most importantly from sources that have traditionally defended the actions of Obama and his administration.

Now, on the heels of the NDAA, a new bill is making its way through Congress: the Enemy Expatriation Act that would make the controversy about the NDAA null and void by simply stripping Americans of their American citizenship, should they be accused of associating with government-deemed terrorist organizations.

What the outrage over the NDAA and now the Enemy Expatriation Act, reveal, however, is not that Obama or the current members of the House are suddenly taking the American government in a startling new direction, but merely that they are in fact continuing to pursue a coordinated policy agenda that has persisted through administration after administration on both the left and right sides of the political aisle for decades.

In 1864, during the American civil war, Lambdin P. Milligan and four others were sentenced to death by a military court after they were found guilty of planning to overthrow the state governments of Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. The case reached the Supreme Court after the war ended, where it was found to be unconstitutional for US citizens to be tried in military tribunals as long as civilian courts were operating. This precedent remained in tact for almost a century, with the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 further delineating the boundary between the military and civilians by barring US military from engaging in civil police actions except by act of congress.

In 1942, however, the Supreme Court ruled on Ex Parte Quirin, a case involving the detention of eight German saboteurs during World War II and their trial as civilians in a military tribunal. The court ruled that the eight men, one of whom was a US citizen, could be tried as ?unlawful combatants? in the war, a status applying to civilians who engage in armed conflict during times of war.

Unsurprisingly, it is this Ex Parte Quirin decision allowing for the military detention of civilians, not the Ex Parte Milligan precedent, which both the Bush and Obama administrations have relied on to try to assert their authority to detain civilians as unlawful combatants in the so-called war on terror. In the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed an Authorization for Use of Military Force which authorized the President to ?use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks.? Less than two months later, Bush invoked that authorization to issue a Military Order declaring that individuals detained in the war on terror be tried in military tribunals. The administration immediately began applying this order to detainees in Afghanistan, regardless of affiliation.

The practice of detaining these ?enemy combatants? at Guantanamo Bay and other military detention centers has been challenged repeatedly in the courts. When the Supreme Court finally ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that the detainees could not be held as unlawful enemy combatants but had to be held as prisoners of war in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 specifically authorizing military commissions for the detainees.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo prisoners were entitled to the US justice system, but in 2009, Obama Attorney General Holder and Solicitor General Kagan testified that they believed the government could detain combatants in accordance with the laws of war, thus sidestepping the issue of determining a prisoner?s status or their right to trial.

Now the NDAA of 2012 seems to extend all of these precedents and provisions to US citizens. This comes in addition to Peace Prize laureate Obama?s stunning declaration that he has the right to kill American civilians anywhere in the world, without so much as a trial.

Perhaps most worryingly of all, when Obama expressed reservations about the NDAA, it was not because he as a Constitutional scholar felt the idea of using the military to detain American citizens on American soil was an unconscionable abrogation of everything the US constitution and Bill of Rights stood for, but because he felt that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force had already granted him this power as supposed Commander-in-Chief in the supposed War on Terror, which has never actually been declared.

Now, many are asking what can be done to prevent this seemingly inevitable slide into overt military control over American citizens and others around the globe.

One voice providing an answer to this question is Stewart Rhodes, a Yale Law graduate and constitutional law scholar who founded Oath Keepers, an organization dedicated to instructing American police and military personnel about the nature of their oath to uphold the constitution, and how that oath precludes them in participating in acts that clearly violate the constitution.

Stewart Rhodes appeared on Corbett Report Radio last week to talk about the history of the use of 'enemy combatant status' as a legal smokescreen to violate the Bill of Rights, and how citizens can work to reverse the damage that has already been done by the passing of this legislation.


2012 / 01 / 16
Brent says:

Only seven of our Senators voted against this Tyrannical bill? Senator Orrin Hatch voted for the NDAA and says he's a champion of liberty? All of these politicians have violated their oath to preserve and protect the Constitution. Taking away one's right to a public trial is not Government, it's absolute servitude.

2012 / 01 / 16
Brandt Hardin says:

The NDAA only goes to further stifle our Constitutional Rights without the approval of the Americans, just as the Patriot Act was adopted WITHOUT public approval or vote just weeks after the events of 9/11. A mere 3 criminal charges of terrorism a year are attributed to this act, which is mainly used for no-knock raids leading to drug-related arrests without proper cause for search and seizure. The laws are simply a means to spy on our own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents without trial or a right to council. You can read much more about living in this Orwellian society of fear and see my visual response to these measures on my artist’s blog at

2012 / 01 / 16
canobs says:

The privatized Fed, the Patriot act, now the NDAA, complete power to the president to declare so-called preventive humanitarian (sic) war (or order NATO to do so), and several others, it is clear that the congress (police state, citizens rights removed) do not care and bypass the now useless Constitution, the Geneva convention, nuclear and WMD accords.___ Not to mention that a hundred military (CIA included) councel to the president were not elected, the Military Industry and Oil, are now the two main cashcows for the Washington elite and oligarchy.____But not for the worker and taxpayer. ____There is two kinds of Democracy, the fake U.S. type called Representative, and the Right n True, rarely seen called Participative, but you need citizens committees (municipal or regional) participating in all important government decisions for that version.

2012 / 01 / 17
victor Swainson says:

the ndaa act

2012 / 01 / 17
I Fought Piranhas says:

Obama's signing statement on the NDAA cleary points out that the detention language is open for interpretation.

2012 / 01 / 17
Leland Mellott says:

Out of the ashes of World War Two ... history repeating itself.
December 1981. I enter the lobby of the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, cross to escalators and descend into the most awesomely huge and inhumanly ugly CHAMBER I have ever known.
The pre-planned and orchestrated assassination of San Francisco Mayor, George Moscone, (I once knew Mr. Moscone) on November 27, 1978 led directly to the creation of the infamous Moscone Bust by sculptor Robert Arneson, which was successfully used to deflect attention from the architecture of the Moscone Convention Center.
Ask three Europeans - San Francisco Art Commission. Where there are three there must be many.
What brought about the reappearance of this bust in the Public Eye on November 3, 1992, Presidential Election Day? The death of Robert Arneson on November 2.
Out of the ashes ...

2012 / 01 / 19
Bill Anderson says:

I am getting to this article late but thanks for writing about the disintegration of the Bill of Rights. My story of the loss of those rights is at "New police weapon against homeless" and also "Historic coverup of FBI and police crimes currently taking place". I have a Masters degree yet have not been allowed permanent work. I have been homeless for 4 years. I hope this comment doesn't escape everyone's notice and you will verify what has taken place and write about it. Bill Anderson

2012 / 08 / 17
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Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!

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