Feinstein Bill a Great Step Forward for the Illusion of Civil Rights

Lowering the Bar:

Obama wasn't entirely happy with the bill. In a "signing statement" - something else he opposed when he was running for president - he said he was signing it "despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists." Aha - he DOES care about our rights, is something you might say if you then stopped reading. [...]

In other words, his "reservations" stem from concerns that the bill may infringe on his own authority, not because he cares whether you rot in jail without a trial. That's consistent with the revelation that the White House actually insisted there not be an exception for citizens, back when the NDAA was oozing through Congress. So, that's super. [...]

Feinstein has introduced a bill, the "Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011" - and here I had been thinking due process was already guaranteed - that would amend the NDAA to say that

An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention.

Sounds great! Until you get to that last clause. What's that all about? Well, Feinstein calls it a "'clear-statement rule' that requires Congress to expressly authorize detention authority" when it comes to U.S. citizens. Okay, but, see, that doesn't "guarantee due process" (or Sixth Amendment rights). In fact, it suggests that even Feinstein thinks Congress can just take it away, as long as it clearly says that's what it's doing, instead of sneaking around like it's been doing. So that is not making me feel much better.

I don't think I linked to his previous rant about this, which contained the perfect summary,

I don't want you to think your representatives took a collective dump on the Sixth Amendment without talking it over first, because they did debate a little before voting to end the Republic.
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18 Responses:

  1. mds says:

    In fact, it suggests that even Feinstein thinks Congress can just take it away, as long as it clearly says that's what it's doing, instead of sneaking around like it's been doing. So that is not making me feel much better.

    The "Lowering the bar" site moniker is apropos, since sadly, this would make me feel somewhat better. If they had to stand up and declare "We are stripping you of your liberty" instead of passing mushmouth stuff like the AUMF that authorizes everything and nothing, I could harbor hope that at least twelve more people somewhere would get outraged about it. Of course, nine of those people would insist that the answer is to let individual states exercise unlimited power to oppress us instead of the feds, so this is still probably the wrong year to give up sniffing glue.

  2. phuzz says:

    In the UK I tend to take it for granted that my government can do pretty much whatever it feels like to me, if I piss it off somehow.
    Note, I don't mean can in the sense 'they have the legal authority', more just they're the ones with the police force/army/secret service/detention facilities, and the wherewithal to use them.

    • jwz says:

      Like the previous commenter, it's great to know that you've just given up. I guess that whole Magna Carta thing was just a big old waste of time. I mean, pfft, what were they thinking. Maybe you could throw a "meh" in there for good measure.

      • phuzz says:

        We've still got a sodding monarchy for fucks sake. We're barely even up to 20th century levels of government, can you blame me for just giving up?
        That said, they don't often seem to abuse their power, that or they're bloody good at covering it up. Which given their performance in all other areas I doubt.

        • Brian Dunbar says:

          can you blame me for just giving up?

          It was not that long ago that he answer would have been 'yes' and then you guys cut off a king's head to show them who was boss.

          • Nick Lamb says:

            A vitally important thing that is often somehow overlooked when people notice that (a) Britain has a monarchy and then (b) it has previously executed the monarch, is that after executing the monarch Britain tried being a republic (specifically it became a "Commonwealth") and it didn't like that any better, so it set about putting a new monarch on the throne.

            It was never about the King, never about the President, never about the Constitution. The only thing that matters is the hardest thing to change of all, the People. Blacks weren't prevented from voting by mere words on paper, they were prevented from voting by millions of their fellow citizens. And if you are "disappeared" it won't be by the constitution, it will be by your fellow citizens.

          • mds says:

            and then you guys cut off a king's head to show them who was boss.

            Yeah, it turned out that a theocratic military dictator was boss. Go, Team Liberty.

            • phuzz says:

              At least that's one thing we can be slightly proud of in Britain, there wasn't ever any discrimination of who could vote based just on skin colour.
              There was discrimination based on money, sex, religion etc yes, but not skin colour.

            • ChibaCity says:

              It does make one wonder at the improbability of the likes of Jefferson and Franklin being the architects of a government. The usual scenario is either Robespierre or those of the Bachmann and Palin ilk. That is, fanatics, religious fanatics or, far more likely, morons. The de facto repeal of 6th amendment protections in the NDAA is far more about credulity than anything else. "Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence".

  3. Chris Davies says:

    Seems like the actions of people who just aren't understanding the problem.

    You'd think at least one of these prize douchenozzles would stop and think "Hey! If we weren't indefinitely detaining people without charge or trial we wouldn't be in this mess! Lets stop doing that."

    Honestly I get the feeling that this whole mess is because the various attorneys general have figured out that if the people they're holding ever get so much as one day in court, any lawyer with who isn't in a persistent vegetative state is going to get them off scot free on a rainbow of civil rights violations and other technicalities. Since no president is going to be the one who "lets the terrorists go" the only alternative is to blow up everyone else's civil rights at least until these guys have the good grace to drop dead and solve the problem. Unless they acquire some more guests for the oubliette. Which they almost certainly will.

    • nooj says:

      > Since no president is going to be the one who "lets the terrorists go"
      Obama had a chance--nay, a mandate--to do exactly this.

      > the only alternative is to blow up everyone else's civil rights
      Is this seriously the best we can do?

      • Chris Davies says:

        I think you're confusing "best" with "politically expedient."

        • nooj says:

          Really, I meant, "Is this reality of governance--political expedience and the abject evisceration of every powerful politician's principles--the best we can do?"

      • Not that I think Obama has done well on this issue, but you must admit that the Republican party did their best to make it impossible for him to do anything useful. They put up the "not in my backyard" protest, because we couldn't possibly detain terrorists in Federal Supermax prisons alongside the murderers and rapists!

  4. Dominic says:

    the reason for due process is that it allows another branch of government to be hang on, this law is unconstitutional. which means although the legislative branch can go pass crazy laws like the NDAA... those laws wont won't be executed.

    You shouldn't really be scared to fuck about this it self, it's what this is a foundation for. It's only a short walk from this to gulags. Hell, America _already_ has the world's highest prison population.