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Fact Sheet: New Law Allowing for Indefinite Military Detention for Americans Without Charge or Trial

By Ralph Lopez - Posted on 05 December 2011

For distribution at Occupy Wall Street and other events.  There is a media blackout so the word must be spread.  Copy and paste to create your own document or use below files ready to print.

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Fact Sheet: New Law Allowing for Indefinite Military Detention for Americans Without Charge or Trial

- S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act passed by a 93 -7 vote in the U.S. Senate on November 30 and now headed toward becoming law unless vetoed by the president, allows for American citizens to be taken into military custody without charge or trial, for life, for the first time in American history.    The new law is intended to designate the entire world, including the U.S., as the "battlefield" in the war on terror.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said in a speech on the Senate floor:  “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”  

- The Christian Science Monitor reports: ""Legislation passed by the Senate this week and headed for the House – and a possible presidential veto – could allow the US military to detain American citizens indefinitely.”  ("Guantánamo for US citizens? Senate bill raises questions," Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 3, 2011)

- The law would permanently and unconstitutionally deprive Americans of their Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.

- Once in military detention there is no recourse for proving innocence.  None of the protections, due process, or 230 years of criminal law and legal processes apply.  The military operates under a chain of command answerable only to the Secretary of Defense and the president.   After Obama, all presidents will inherit these powers.  

-  The Washington Post has confirmed a secret list of Americans to be assassinated, reporting on Jan. 26, 2010:  "The military's Joint Special Operations Command maintains a target list that includes several Americans...U.S. officials have said that the government is prepared to kill U.S. citizens who are believed to be involved in terrorist activities that threaten Americans."  There is no way to determine who is on the list, as it is "classified." ("U.S. military teams, intelligence deeply involved in aiding Yemen on strikes," Washington Post, by Dana Priest, Jan. 27, 2010)

- The law's primary sponsors are Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI).   (Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel for ACLU, Washington office, "Senators Demand the Military Lock Up of American Citizens in a “Battlefield” They Define as Being Right Outside Your Window," Nov. 23, 2011,  )

- The only U.S. senators who voted against the law, "7 Patriots" are:   Jeff Merkley [D], Tom Harkin [D], Ron Wyden [D], Thomas Coburn, [R], Mike Lee [R], Rand Paul [R], and Bernie Sanders [I].  

-  The Oath of Office of the U.S. senator, required by the Constitution before assuming duties, as well as any American military officer, is:  "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”  The Oath makes no mention of defending territory, the president, or anything other than the Constitution.  The Founders intended that defense of the Constitution come before all else.  Thomas Jefferson said: "I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."  By violating their Oath to protect and defend the United States Constitution, these senators have made themselves "domestic enemies" of the Constitution.

- Case law has until now been ambiguous on the government's ability to designate American citizens as "enemy combatants" for life.  The authority of the executive branch to invoke wartime powers in order to hold American citizen Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant in 2001 was upheld by Judge J. Michael Luttig in the Fourth Circuit, but Padilla was released to a civilian trial before the decision could be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.    The McCain-Levin law for the first time clearly attempts to permanently override every citizen's right to a jury trial; under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. (Wikipedia, "Jose Padilla")

- 18 states have public official recall laws.  A few, like Rhode Island, specifically exclude federal officials, although this can be changed by the state legislature, and recall laws can be passed by any state.  Although not written into the Constitution, the power to recall federal officials is grounded in the Tenth Amendment:    "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."  

- Opposition to what amounts to a blatant betrayal of the Oath of Office has united Americans from different parts of the political spectrum as never before.   

For more information see: “We Are All Really Bradley Manning Now: Senate Passes Military Detention for American Citizens,”,



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