On Wednesday, Federal Judge Katherine Forrest upheld her May ruling that the indefinite detention portion of the NDAA was unconstitutional. The provision would have allowed the federal government to hold terrorism suspects, including US citizens, for as long as they wished. President Obama has said he would not use the provision, but still signed the bill into law. Civil liberties groups were up in arms over the NDAA, and are now asking the president not to appeal this latest ruling.
The NDAA is the latest in a long line of attacks on civil liberties since 9-11. The trend started with the Patriot Act, which contained various surveillance provisions that many civil liberties activists viewed as unconstitutional. Many thought the trend would stop under President Obama, who promised to shut down Gitmo and end the torture of terrorist suspects. The president has fallen short on the civil liberties front, as the signing of the NDAA proves.
The constitution contains laws aimed at preventing a police state from forming and protecting the rights of American citizens. Legislation like the Patriot Act and the NDAA have slowly attempted to strip away those rights in the effort to combat terrorism. Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of this nation, once said that those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither. He was driving home the point that we need not give up our freedom to be safe. We can have both.
Another point of contention has been warrant-less wiretaps. The Patriot Act has allowed the government to listen in on phone conversations without obtaining a warrant as long as it is related to terrorism. The government has argued that having to get a warrant would slow them down and hurt investigations. In the digital age, this is simply no longer a valid excuse.
The Obama administration was right to end the practice of aggressive interrogation started under the Bush administration. Water boarding is torture, despite the counter claims made by talking heads on networks like Fox News. Anyone who has challenged that assertion and been brave enough to put their claims to the test (volunteered to be water-boarded) has quickly changed their minds. The US constitution outlaws torture, and our government should not practice it.
President Obama should now do the right thing and not fight the indefinite detention ruling. If he appeals the decision, and the law is later upheld, it will be a big blow to freedom in the US. US citizens need to wake up and pay attention as their cherished freedom is under assault, seemingly from both sides. The main stream media is concerned with “big government” mostly in terms of taxes and regulation, but ignores the true threat of our civil liberties being eroded. It is unwise to take our civil liberties for granted, because one day they could be gone.