This week, the House will consider the annual "National Defense Authorization Act." (H.R. 1540)
As the letter below reveals, it contains an obscure section (Sec. 1034) so poorly worded that it could . . .
. . . create a permanent military dictatorship in the United States of America!
That's not hyperbole.
There are lots of other things wrong with this bill too, but it is CRUCIAL that this dangerous section be omitted.
The hard-wired letter to Congress begins:
I am not afraid of terrorism, and I want you to stop being afraid on my behalf. Please start scaling back the official government war on terror. Please replace it with a smaller, more focused anti-terrorist police effort in keeping with the rule of law.
To this I added these personal comments . . .
It is VERY important that Section 1034 of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540) be stricken when the House debates it this week.
No hearings were held on this section, which says in part:
"Congress affirms that--(1) the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces."
Many legal experts believe this "affirmation of armed conflict" can plausibly be interpreted as a "declaration of war" on these groups.
Do you intend to trigger vast NEW "wartime powers" for the President? Wartime Presidents have ignored Congressional budget restrictions, unilaterally imposed controls over private industry, and have taken over oil and mineral resources.
Section 1034 cites no specific harm or threat to the United States. It fails to identify who constitutes Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or "associated forces. Yet it gives the President potentially unchecked authority to undertake military action wherever these suspects reside, including Europe or Canada -- even to have soldiers and Marines working on our streets, like this was Baghdad.
And thanks to Section 1034, Congress would be powerless to end any of the new war theaters to which this, or future Presidents send U.S. troops. The President could simply veto Congressional actions. This is ironic, because . . .
The Obama Administration hasn't even asked for this dangerous new power, and has said it's not necessary!
But it gets worse, because Section 1034 provides no specific objective to this war, or "conflict." It also allows the President to detain belligerents "until the termination of hostilities," which might never happen.
This is Tin-Pot Dictator stuff. Of course, the President will still wear business suits with ties instead of a military uniform with epaulettes (and there will be an election every four years). But the President's powers of office will much more closely resemble those of more honestly dressed heads of state.
We don't need a military "strong man" to keep us safe from terror. I know that's not what you want. Please pay attention to the substance of HR 1540 and remove Section 1034!
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