Something to Act Belligerent about (The Belligerent Act: a summary)

We all remember the Christmas Day Bomber a.k.a. The Underwear Bomber. His ineffectual attempt to detonate explosives in his underwear on a Northwest Airlines flight on Dec. 25th, 2009 was not without repercussions on America’s freedom. In response to this terrorist threat State Senator John McCain introduced the The Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010, better known as “The Belligerent Act”.

The Act was passed in the House of Representatives on May 26, 2011 by a vote of 322 to 96. It passed in the Senate on December 15, 2011 by a vote of 86 to 13, and on December 31st 2011, just over a year after the failed bombing attempt with no other attempts like it, US President Barack Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA). He resigned it in January 2013 saying, “Our Constitution does not afford the president the opportunity to approve or reject statutory sections one by one,”. Fair enough, but let’s take a stand on the writ of habeas corpus. Let me explain. Essentially the wording of this Act makes it legal to incarcerate United States citizens without recourse to any form of judicial process. If the government deems any person to have committed a “belligerent act” that person can be detained indefinitely without trial. Seems reminiscent of the Patriot Act and Guantanamo, but this was in response to a failed singular terrorist attempt, and more importantly signed by the Obama administration.

Many Americans feel indifferent about the recent side stepping of the Bill of Rights by the Federal Government because, “I don’t break the law, why should I care.” This bill says you don’t need to do anything more than be a dissenting voice to lose your most basic rights. Here is an excerpt from the bill.

Subtitle D — Counterterrorism
(a) IN GENERAL. — Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.
(b) COVERED PERSONS. — A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
(2) A person who was a 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, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
(c) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR. — The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:
(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Previous to this act the difference between acts of war and lawful protest against the government would have been decided by the courts and a jury of peers. While we may have qualms with our court system it is surely better than nothing at all. The NDAA affords the government a right to decide this unilaterally, without legal representation afforded to the accused and no judicial proceedings bringing what really happens to public sight.

The bill authorizes the President to establish a “high-value detainee interrogation group” consisting of executive branch personnel with expertise in national security, terrorism, intelligence, interrogation, or law enforcement to perform the interrogation and status determination. This may not seem that threatening to the average middle class American, but what about your college student protesting the war(s). What about the journalist covering the protest and the treatment of unlawful combatants? What about the business person who does business in the Middle East and works with a company who sold stock to a Bin Ladin in 1998? What about the fact it is a slap in the face to the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments to the Constitution Bill of Rights of our beloved country.

This country was founded to free people from a tyrannical government, to establish the rule of law, and to give people inalienable rights. We the people are letting those ideals and establishments to be whittled away. We should not be afraid. We should not be indifferent. We should be liberal with our liberty, democratic with our democracy, and free with our  freedom to call, write, text, tweet, IM, Skype, Facebook, email, and protest our elected official’s reactionary bad calls. Yes, let’s have safety and security, but not at the price of our founding principles as a country.

If there are no more posts after this, you know what happened to me. 😉


Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.



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