“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
Portion of Emma Lazarus’s poem, “A New Colossus,” for the Statue of Liberty
The chief thrust of this article is that none of this would occur, or even be thought “necessary,” if we had eliminated states that sponsor terrorism after 9/11. But when one reads the text of Senate Bill 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), one gets the impression that many in positions of power and influence, particularly Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and Democrat Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, have a vested interest in sustaining an indefinite “war” against terrorism. This would entail establishing, or laying the groundwork for, a police state in which citizens would be lawfully accountable to the state, and not the other way around.
Fundamentally, they have a vested interest in waging a war against America and individual rights. Many sections of the bill are overtures to establish a permanent police state or an authoritarian government. As with many instances of legislation in the past, the bill is chiefly a finance bill, but contains riders, amendments, and sections that have little to do with finance but whose inclusion requires that their authors and sponsors resort to contemptible subterfuge.
One of the consequences of not having properly defended this country from attacks by our enemies – and Islam is certainly an enemy, the strenuous denials of George W. Bush and President Barack Obama to the contrary notwithstanding – is that to defend the country against “terrorism” without taking effective and final action against those enemies, the government must establish a “Fortress America,” or policies which not so much ensure our protection as ensure the survival of the government. What happened to our liberties? They take a back seat. Eventually, they must be thrown from the vehicle of statism.
The Library of Congress inexplicably removed the links I found to the two versions of Senate Bill 1867 (my search was “timed out” and the links no longer work), but I found another one that contains the text of the bill. I have also included separate links to the texts of the notorious Sections 1031 and 1032, which discuss detention of U.S. citizens. These two sections were opposed by some Senators without success. Senators McCain and Levin sponsored the bill and were its principal architects, drafted in secret with not much to-do and only now making its debut. It almost makes one sigh with relief that McCain lost the 2008 election (Was the alternative any better?) The heading of Section 1031 reads:
Sec. 1031. Affirmation of authority of the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
Despite assurances in the bill of Constitutional guarantees, the Secretary of Defense and the director of national intelligence may “waive” the inapplicability of Sections 1031 and 1032 to U.S. citizens after leave from Congress to do so. The assurances are merely devious lip service to a document that has been all but gutted of meaning, and to a political philosophy that began to expire with the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. (Some would argue that it began to expire with the first imposition of the draft and income tax under President Abraham Lincoln, but that’s another story.) A paragraph of Section 1032 reads, in relation to the status of American citizens who may or may not be detained by the military:
32. (4) WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY.—The Secretary of Defense may, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the Secretary submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States.
From the McCain-Levin bill:
The term “terrorism” means any activity that – (A) involves an act that – (i) is dangerous to human life or potentially destructive of critical infrastructure or key resources; and (ii) is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State or other subdivision of the United States; and (B) appears to be intended – (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping. (16)(A)
The left is up in arms over the bill because Sections 1031 and 1032 do specify that captured or apprehended enemy combatants or agents who happen to be U.S. citizens or legal alien residents, and who have taken “hostile” actions against the U.S., may be detained without trial. The Left is more concerned with that than with the power of waiver granted to the government. Terrorists, apparently, have rights, but not their victims. But terrorists – the homegrown or foreign kind – have forfeited all rights by attacking the government and country that upholds individual rights with the purpose of destroying it and imposing totalitarian rule – whether that rule is Nazi, Communist, Fascist – or Islamic.
Lindsey Graham and other defenders of the bill’s controversial riders referred to the United States as inclusive in a global “battlefield.” On a battlefield, however, there are no rules of combat or engagement. One kills, wounds, or captures as many of the enemy as possible, with all means available. A battlefield is the stage of focused, controlled violence. Graham’s remark was inappropriate, but reveals his estimate of his country and its citizens. His “battlefield” analogy is reminiscent of the propaganda of Nazi Germany, Communist Russia and Fascist Italy, where citizens were constantly reminded that the “battlefield” was their homes, their jobs, their families, their leisure, their churches, their friends, and the enemy anyone who opposed, resisted or questioned the respective ideology.
Not covered by either McCain’s bill or the Homeland Security Act is the subject of war. What is an “act of war” but what is covered in the definition of “terrorism” cited above? Why has our attention been diverted from ‘acts of war” to “acts of terrorism”?
(4) the term “act of war” means any act occurring in the course of —
(A) declared war;
(B ) armed conflict, whether or not war has been declared, between two or more nations; or
C) armed conflict between military forces of any origin;
War would mean armed conflict with the advocates and enablers of another ideology. War means open, armed hostility, not necessarily for the enemy nation’s cultural sum, but for its political ideology. A “war on terrorism,” however, discards the ideology and focuses on the enablers (plotters, foot soldiers, etc.) as though they come from some generic template, and does not declare war on what motivates the plotters, soldiers, and so on. Neglecting to oppose and refute the enemy’s ideology while focusing only on its carriers, propagators and advocates, is futile.
One could say that one cannot be at war with Islam, because Islam, as an ideology, seems to be “stateless.” But, is it? No. Islam is what governs Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and all of the North African states. Islam is not some disembodied entity that infects individuals and causes them to fly planes into buildings or attempt to suppress freedom of speech. Islam is not the common cold. It isn’t even typhus, or influenza. It is the bubonic plague of the mind.
If Islam declares war on freedom of speech, then it has declared war on an ideology, that is, on the political philosophy that professes and upholds the universality of individual rights. Why is it deemed inappropriate to declare war on Islam? Because it is also a theology? Because it propagates and perpetuates the belief in a supreme being or all-knowing and omnipotent deity? Christianity does that, as well, but Christian doctrine has been boxed in and stripped of the power to enforce its doctrine on all. One may believe in God or not; belief in a deity is immaterial in a society governed by secular law. There are those, of course, who assert that God is the source of all individual rights, but such a position ignores reality; it defies the law of identity and the evidence of the senses, as well.
Islam, however, cannot be boxed in or delimited in its political ambition. Its politics and theology are cut from the same cloth, which is belief without reservation, question, or doubt.
Ayn Rand posited a handy and eminently appropriate characterization of the dichotomy that can be applied to Islam: the Witch Doctor and Attila. The Witch Doctor depends on Attila to impose his mysticism; Attila depends on the Witch Doctor to sanction his reign of force. The Witch Doctor stands for the mystics of the mind – don’t question, doubt, or think, just believe – while Attila is the mystic of muscle – force is the solution to all problems. The Witch Doctor is any imam or mullah or ayatollah or sheik; Mohammad is their ideal Attila. (While Allah, as portrayed by Islamic scholars, is the perfect symbol of the mystics of mind and muscle, a being governed by whims and who is not governed by reality or morality).
It is noteworthy that while the government, on one hand, is bowing to the complaints of Islamic activists (the Council on American-Islamic Relations and its Muslim Brotherhood affiliates) and is culling all references to Islam and Muslims from defense documents and training materials and courses for counter-terrorism, on the other, Senators McCain and Levin do mention Al-Quada and the Taliban in their bill (Section D, 1031). But Al-Quada and the Taliban are nothing if not Islamic organizations, from their burqa tops to the hems of their thawbs.
Put one way, the organizations charged with defending the country against terrorist attacks – the CIA, the FBI, and state and local law enforcement entities – are expected to conduct the “war on terrorism” blindfolded, dizzy from being turned around dozens of times by contradictory orders and criteria, and armed with a stick with which to strike at an empty piñata, which is moved away from them every time CAIR or some other Islamic front organization cries “victim” or “Islamophobia.”
Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) wrote today on his Facebook page that S. 1867 is “one of the most anti-liberty pieces of legislation of our lifetime.” Moreover, Amash maintains that the bill capitalizes on misleading semantics; regarding section 1032 , he says “‘The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.’ This language appears carefully crafted to mislead the public. Note that it does not preclude U.S. citizens from being detained indefinitely, without charge or trial, it simply makes such detention discretionary.”
But, who is defined as a U.S. citizen? And if a U.S. citizen wages war against his own country, should he not be charged with treason? And if he is charged with treason, is he not entitled to the full protection of the Constitution he wished to obviate?
Does the bill genuinely define a belligerent as an individual or “person,” whether or not he is a U.S. citizen, who has taken up arms against the U.S., or has taken actions within its jurisdiction with the purpose of subverting or overthrowing the government or harming its citizens or “infrastructure”? Does it specifically exclude newspaper columnists, writers, satirists, or Internet bloggers, or anyone else who questions the wisdom or morality of government policies?
The six-hundred-plus pages of Senate bill 1867 do not answer these questions. This bill is the kind of legislation that is knocked together in the purgatory of non-objective law and fuzzy, evasive, non-objective thinking.
Another part of the bill, Section 584, “Report on the Achievement of Diversity Goals for the Leadership of the Armed Forces,” is particularly onerous. It does not even define the term “diversity,” but since the term was sired by multiculturalism, one presumes that it means not excluding Muslims from command and advisory roles. There are several “prohibitions” or limitations in the bill, but who or what is to enforce them when the bill grants the executive branch, Congress, and bureaucrats the discretionary power to designate who may or may not be an “enemy of the state”?
The U.S. would not be a “battlefield” had we eliminated states that sponsor terrorism over a decade ago. But the Senate bill underscores the fact that our policies do not now and never will identify the specific enemy. This is the deadly neurosis of a nation that has convinced itself that it is not worthy of self-preservation as a free country, but as just another “unexceptional” country which must turn on its own citizens to preserve the state and not the rights and liberties America was once famous for.
The police state proposed in S. 1867 needs and requires Americans to be tired, poor, and huddled, but not yearning to be free. Like “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” that “beauteous” welfare and regulatory state established early in the 20th century and welcomed by so many, is turning very, very ugly.