It was dark when the dogs and I went out walking this morning in a misting rain that wasn't heavy enough to soak, but was damp enough to chill. The landscape was just barely beginning to brighten, enough so that it was possible to identify the outline of the mountains, but not so much that one could easily discern a rubbish can from a human being, as Paele attested with his growl of warning.
Even in full light it's becoming increasingly difficult to discern rubbish cans from human beings and Democrats from Republicans, at least in terms of ideology, as evidenced by the extremely alarming National Defense Authorization Act now making its way through the Senate.
Introduced by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and championed by failed GOP Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the 680-page bill primarily authorizes military spending. But buried within its verbiage is a provision that would authorize the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect, anywhere in the world — even the U.S. — without charge or trial. Another provision would repeal the executive order banning torture.
As Democracy Now! reported:
So we’re talking about indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens, of lawful U.S. residents as well as of people abroad.
So, you’re picked up off the street and you have no trial.
And it could be for things you’ve done here in this country. If you communicate with Al Qaeda, you’re suspected of being even a supporter of Al Qaeda in some way or of Al Qaeda’s associated forces. And the U.S. gets to decide who they think is associated with Al Qaeda, and that list grows longer almost every day.
Now again, suspected. This is not that you’ve been convicted.
Yesterday, in a 38-60 vote, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have withdrawn the provision about detainees. Our own Sen. Daniel Inouye, who is seeking re-election, was among those voting against the amendment.
As Huffington Post reports, the President has threatened a veto — but not because it represents a radical encroachment on civil liberties. No, he's got a different concern:
"It is likely that implementing such procedures would inject significant confusion into counterterrorism operations," the White House argued in a Nov. 17 statement.
In other words, a turf battle between the FBI, Homeland Security and the military.
I loved the naïve comment from Sen. Dianne Feinstein: "We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge."
No, we assassinate via drone instead.
The Democracy Now! guest, Daphne Eviatar of Human Rights First, made an interesting observation about another motivation for the controversial provision, which was approved by the Armed Services Committee without a hearing:
[I]t extends the transfer restrictions. It means you can’t transfer anyone out of Guantanamo. And the worst thing...is it would prevent the transfer of detainees out of Bagram and Afghanistan. So, we have about 3000 detainees being detained indefinitely in Afghanistan at the Bagram Air Base. Now, the U.S. wants to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. This would make it almost impossible to do that, because you wouldn’t be able to transfer these detainees to Afghanistan because Afghanistan could never meet the conditions that are set out in the bill to accept detainees from the United States.
How convenient. And now we've got Biden over in Iraq, trying to prolong the occupation by leaving behind 3,000 to 4,000 troops under the title of “trainers.”
The message from Washington is clear: The wars must continue at all cost.