January 6, 2012
Last January, four-term senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) announced that he would not seek reelection in the upcoming 2012 elections. This seems to have relieved any pressure of facing his constituency for approval, allowing him to push for some of the most draconian legislation in the history of the United States. Or, perhaps, he is just auditioning for a more powerful position like Secretary of Defense or Secretary of the DHS.
Besides his renewed pressure on Google and Twitter to openly censor the Internet, Lieberman’s desire to crush all dissent against the war machine has manifested in bills like his Enemy Belligerent Act, his Internet Kill Switch bill, and the recently introduced Enemy Expatriation Act.
Unfortunately, the most egregious parts of the above mentioned bills already found their way into law under the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which seemingly renders any further discussion of these bills as somewhat redundant, but they certainly won’t be critically discussed in the corporate media.
The Enemy Belligerent Act grants “the president the power to order the arrest, interrogation, and imprisonment of anyone — including a U.S. citizen — indefinitely, on the sole suspicion that he or she is affiliated with terrorism, and on the president’s sole authority as commander in chief.”
The Internet Kill Switch bill, officially called the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, gives the President the authority to police, censor and shut down parts of the Internet under a cyber emergency. While promoting the bill, Lieberman openly called for the U.S. to have the same ability to censor the Internet as China.
The Enemy Expatriation Act aimed to remove the rights protected by U.S. citizenship from those who “support hostilities against the United States.” This act was in response to Obama’s assassination of a U.S. citizen without formal charges or due process to, in effect, legalize such action by removing Constitutional protections of those suspected of supporting hostilities.
The NDAA, which has declared American soil part of the formal battlefield, permits the U.S. military to arrest and indefinitely detain U.S. citizens on the suspicion of supporting or sympathizing with broadly defined terrorists — thus effectively rendering their rights as citizens obsolete — expatriation in practice but not in name.
The NDAA also includes authorization to go after those who engage in a “belligerent act” including protests and speech, thus fulfilling the intent of the Enemy Belligerent Act. Shahid Buttar points out on FireDogLake:
If Occupy and Tea Party groups are treated as terrorists, does that render them among the ‘associated forces’ of groups ‘engaged in hostilities against the United States’ for whom the NDAA authorizes military detention without trial? Just to be clear: no one has a good answer here, which is precisely the problem.
Even within the four corners of the NDAA itself (here’s the full text of the bill), section 1031(b)(2) includes among ‘covered persons’ subject to potential military detention ‘any person who has committed a belligerent act….’ What, exactly, is a belligerent act? ‘Hostile’ and ‘aggressive’ are synonyms, and while the term has an established (though not entirely defined) meaning in the context of international war, its precise meaning in the context of the NDAA remains unspecified.
And finally, the NDAA declares the Internet an “operation domain” in the war on terror allowing for the Pentagon, “upon direction by the President may conduct offensive operations in cyberspace.” The authority goes even further than passive Internet censorship. The Pentagon also claims the authority to use military force as a response to serious cyber attacks. The Pentagon announced their efforts (PDF) to recruit and train an army of cyber soldiers as funded by the NDAA.
How bad each of these bills are separately only reflects the magnitude of what Lieberman and his hawkish ilk were able to accomplish in the NDAA. No other elected official can claim the success of Lieberman in terms of ramming through increasingly tyrannical legislation. But nearly all elected officials are responsible for passing the NDAA and its predecessor the USA PATRIOT Act.
So, protest of these individual bills are futile, much like the overwhelming public opposition to the bank bailouts was futile in swaying the “deciders.” As Lieberman departs the Senate in a blaze of tyranny, Americans will most certainly continue to be burned unless the people wake up.
Watch the Must See explanation of the significance of the NDAA: