NDAA 2013 Passes out of Committee; Indefinite Detention Provisions Remain Intact

As opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 continues to grow, along comes the 2013 version, which promises to perpetuate the attack on liberty begun by its predecessor.

In the pre-dawn hours on Thursday, by a vote of 56-5, the House Armed Services Committee passed a slate of changes to the NDAA for the next fiscal year. Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) released a statement announcing the goals of the bill’s latest mark-up:

I am proud of the bi-partisan way the Committee has worked together to build this bill. It rebuilds a force strained by ten years of war while restoring both fiscal and strategic sanity to the defense budget. It keeps faith with our troops and their families while keeping America ready to face the threats of the future.

In his statement, Representative McKeon declares that “every American must have his day in court.” Further, he “reaffirms the fundamental right to Habeas Corpus of any person detained in the United States pursuant to the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.”

Section 1033 of the mark-up version passed by the committee is offered as the codification of that protection. Here is the current text of that updated provision:

This section would state that nothing in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) or the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112-81) shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution for any person who is detained in the United States pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40).

The double-speak contained in that paragraph is impressive even for a Capitol Hill lawyer.


My Lost Causes in D.C.

When I was a child I would sometimes hear someone say: “Pray to St. Jude.” [the patron saint of lost causes] when the subject came up about some perceived lost cause or another.

I have a few lost causes to add to that neverending prayer list: my state of Iowa’s elected officials in Washington. (Most of Iowa’s own state legislators and senators are another story, for another time.) What prompted my recent dismay was a short article that appeared in my local paper. This news note stated that Senator Charles Grassley was “…glad the Obama Administration came to its senses.” Ol’ Chuck’s gladness was in reference to the Labor Department’s decision to withdraw its regulations that would have placed strict restrictions on teenage and younger people working on family farms.

Now, you would think that I would be glad that Chuck was glad. Well, maybe I would have been a few years ago, but not now. Blame the Tenth Amendment Center for that. Anyway, piqued by Chuck’s response on this issue, I searched the Web site of the other Iowa Senator, Tom (too good for Iowa) Harkin, and heard…crickets chirping.


Imagine America and England without the Revolution

Historic time presents us with a riddle, one which I have thought about more so since my family moved to the northern part of New Hampshire. What would America be like without the American Revolution?

Possibly much like it is today.

Most of my neighbors got here migrating downward from Quebec during the industrial period. But a surprising number migrating north to what is today Canada during the American Revolution, then heading back to work a hundred years later. Consider what Hitler might have felt when he drove his troops into Paris on June 14, 1940. Americans held still for two years against their French allies in the Revolution. Why would they bother to defend their natural enemy, England? But aid we did, and we culturally rebonded with England via the invasion of France with both our armies.

In the end, we were naturally closer to England than we were to France. So suppose they had just worked out the tax thing together in 1776? Both the Revolution and World Wars I and II on England’s behalf could have been avoided. A diminished post-Victorian British Empire must have seemed an easy target and the Germany navy smelled blood in the water as early as the Queen’s Jubilee in 1897 when Victoria was in her last years. But would the Kaiser and Hitler have dared to challenge a realm as vast as a unified Anglosphere?