Deconstructing the National Defense Authorization Act
Activists move to establish a constitutional protection zone
by Ardy Ragian
City on a Hill Press
November 15, 2013
The Romero institute, a non-profit law firm, is spearheading a mission to strengthen an anti-National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Santa Cruz resolution passed in April 2012 through its project, the Campaign to Make Santa Cruz a Constitution Protection Zone. Last Wednesday, the group organized an anti-NDAA event at the Resource Center for Nonviolence, with People Against the NDAA (PANDA) director Dan Johnson as the keynote speaker.
The NDAA has been in effect for 51 years and prior to 2012 has primarily existed to fund U.S. armed forces and aid military families. As a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the NDAA has transformed into a “haystack bill” that continues to grow with added provisions such as 1021 and 1022, which were signed into effect on Dec. 31, 2011 by President Obama.
“In a nutshell, [these provisions] authorize the application of the laws of war to American soil, making us a battlefield,” Johnson said. “They authorize the military to detain any person, including American citizens, without a charge and without a trial, essentially affording the military the authority to ship any person here on U.S. soil, or any American citizen abroad, to Guantanamo Bay.”
California passed AB351 in October to halt provisions 1021 and 1022 from being applicable, a bill Johnson said “doesn’t even attempt to enforce California’s oath.”
“The bill says, ‘the state can’t participate in detention, prosecution or investigation if the NDAA violates the constitution,’” Johnson said. “All you have to do is go in court and claim the NDAA didn’t violate the constitution. Problem solved, you’re not prosecuted and you’re not punished.”
Santa Cruz passed a resolution in April 2012 supporting the repeal of sections 1021 and 1022.
Communications director of the Campaign to Make Santa Cruz a Constitution Protection Zone Robert Moddelmog said like California’s AB351, Santa Cruz’s legislation had good intentions behind it, but fell short in solidifying a constitutional protection zone.
“The signed resolution states that the city of Santa Cruz ‘hereby supports the repeal of the NDAA’s detention provisions described above,’” Moddelmog said, “and directs the mayor to write letters to our congressman and senators ‘indicating the city’s support for legislation to repeal those detention provisions,’”
Moddelmog says while this is an admirable stance, Santa Cruz needs to go one step further and actively stop any violations of the constitution from occurring, rather than only asking for its repeal.
Johnson stressed the government doesn’t have to present any evidence in taking these actions, it merely has to allege you are “suspected” of being a danger or of aiding terrorism.
“Terrorism is a method, and terror is an emotional reaction,” Johnson said, “you can’t legislate either out of existence.”
Johnson expressed his concerns regarding the vagueness of what constitutes being a terrorist, citing numerous reports such as the Department of Homeland Security’s terrorism study and a Responses to Terrorism (START) report released 31 days after the NDAA was signed. START categorizes terrorist acts by ideological motivations, such as “extreme right-wing” or “single issue.”
For example, the START report describes “extreme right-wing” terrorist groups as “groups who are nationalistic, anti-global, suspicious of centralized federal authority, reverent of individual liberty and believe in conspiracy theories involving grave threats to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty.”
“Regardless of what words you put in here, the key is suspicion, reverence, and belief,” Johnson said. “All of those are thoughts, none of those are actions … Is thought a crime now?”