Oregon: Occupy, Libertarians and Tea Party Activists Unite Against the NDAA

On  Monday 13, February 2012, at noon, in Medford Oregon,  a demonstration will take place at Vogel Plaza against the passing of the NDAA. What is unusual about this action, and could be an indication of  similar actions on other issues, is that it is uniting American citizens from across the political spectrum. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was signed into law on December 31, 2011, is an assault on freedom and civil liberties.

The indefinite detention clauses ( section 1021 and 1022) in the legislation are a direct attack upon the civil rights of all Americans and are in essence in breech of the US Constitution.  The detention closes represent yet another step taken towards an erosion of the freedoms which are the very foundation of American society. The detention sections of the NDAA give the Executive branch wide and unchecked powers to detain, via the US military, any person “who was part of/ or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”

The law is ill defined and opened to interpretations. The provisions also target anyone who commits a belligerent act against the US or its coalition allies and aid enemy forces, under the “law of war without trial, until the end of the hostilities”. The text also authorizes trial by military tribunal, or transfer to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, or the transfer to “any foreign country, or any other foreign entity.” The NDAA, if applied, would make legal the “rendition” program run in secret by the CIA during the Bush administration.

After signing the NDAA, President Obama made the clarification that his administration “will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.” However, the only provision from which US citizens are exempted here is the “requirement” of military detention. For foreign nationals  accused of being members from al-Qaeda and other “terrorist” groups, military detention is mandatory. For US citizens it is optional. There is no exemption for US citizens from presidential power of detention, either by the military  or by civilian agencies such as the CIA, DHS or FBI, only from the requirement of military detention.

Civil rights organization such as the ACLU are vehemently opposed to the NDAA. In their view “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this or future presidents to militarily detain people captured from any battlefield.” The call for action by this coalition of activists concerned by freedom and civil liberties is “No more left, no more right, time to unite. Stand and fight”.

Joseph Snook, from Wake Up America Southern Oregon is one of the organizers of Monday’s protest. He made the following statement:” A group of conservatives, Libertarians, and Tea Party activists by the name of Wake Up America Southern Oregon is proud to unite with the Southern Oregon Occupy Movement to take a bold stand against the NDAA. Further, it is time that “We the People”, all of us unite!”

Emery Way from Occupy Ashland stated: “Occupy Ashland is standing with libertarians, progressives, conservatives and the Tea Party alike to speak out against the attack against our civil rights which is the NDAA. In times such as these, when the injustices of a system and a government become too large to ignore, it is vital that we stand together not as members of a political party but as fellow citizens and human beings to defend our precious freedoms.”

Indeed bills like the NDAA,  in combination with the Patriot Act, are “legal” slippery slopes giving the executive branch the legal tools to potentially impose  martial law and  crack down on political dissent in a similar repressive fashion than the one used in fascist states. Let’s hope that this type of protest and action-uniting citizens across the political spectrum- to defend basic civil rights enshrined in the US Constitution become the rule and not the exception.

Editor’s Note: All photographs by Justin Norman.

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