Nevada Legislature to Consider NDAA-Nullifying Bill

On December 19, the Nevada chapters of People Against the National Defense Authorization Act (PANDA) announced the introduction of BDR 728, the Nevada Liberty Preservation Act. Sponsored by Nevada State Senator Don Gustavson, the bill will be presented to lawmakers in February, when the state legislature reconvenes.

In a statement announcing the impending introduction of the bill, the Nevada state coordinator for PANDA, Christopher Corbett, said,

I appreciate the community support backing up our efforts and the courage of those members of our governing bodies who are willing to actively protect the constitutional rights of their constituents. We need to restore the Constitutionally protected right to due process for every American.

Any day now, President Obama is expected to sign into law the 2013 version of the NDAA. The president signed the 2012 bill into law on December 31, 2011.

The NDAA contains several unconstitutional provisions that are opposed by a broad spectrum of political action groups.

For example, Sections 1021 and 1022 of the 2012 act declare the United States to be a battlefield in the “War on Terror” and authorize the president of the United States to deploy the armed forces to arrest and indefinitely detain any American he suspects of supporting al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces.”

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Federalization of State Militias: Another Attack on the Second Amendment

Since the soul-shaking murder of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, one week ago, thousands of articles have been written calling for increased federal control over the right of an individual to own a gun. Such proposals are perhaps an expected though ineffectual and unconstitutional reaction to an event so horrific and inexplicable.

Of course, the right to “bear arms” is explicitly protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution and should not be subject to arbitrary and knee-jerk abridgment by those who wrongly believe that limiting access to weapons would effect a proportional decrease in violent crime.

There are many who insist that safety at school, specifically, and at home, generally, would increase were we to impose tighter restrictions on the ability to obtain firearms.

For example, in his statement following the rampage in Newtown, President Obama hinted that such stricter proposals will be forthcoming:

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South Carolina Bill Proposes Jail Time for Feds Trying to Enforce Obamacare

South Carolina may soon join the ranks of states struggling to reclaim their constitutional sovereignty stolen from them by the federal government.

On December 11, South Carolina State Representative William Chumley pre-filed a bill in the South Carolina General Assembly that would prevent the enforcement of ObamaCare within the borders of the Palmetto State.

Using language that would prohibit state officials from participating in the implementation of state healthcare exchanges or from enforcing the individual mandate that are key elements of ObamaCare, Chumley’s measure — the South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act — requires state lawmakers to “prevent the enforcement of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” [ObamaCare] within the limits of this state.”

South Carolina, a state with a long history of resisting federal despotism, joins three other states currently considering bills nullifying ObamaCare. The state legislatures of Maine, New Jersey, and Oklahoma have also had bills introduced aimed at stopping ObamaCare at the state border.

Simply stated, nullification is a concept of constitutional law that recognizes the right of each state to nullify, or invalidate, any federal measure that exceeds the few and defined powers allowed the federal government as enumerated in the Constitution. Nullification is founded on the assertion that the sovereign states formed the union, and as creators of the compact, they hold ultimate authority as to the limits of the power of the central government to enact laws that are applicable to the states and the citizens thereof.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ObamaCare decision, state legislators and governors are boldly asserting their right to restrain the federal government, and are accordingly considering bills that will stop ObamaCare’s multitude of mandates at the state border.

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Drone Makers Push Congress to Move Up Domestic Deployment Date

The day of deployment is drawing nearer. Soon, thousands of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) unmanned aerial vehicle license holders will launch their drones into the skies over the United States.

Despite the delay of lawmakers to establish constitutionally sound guidelines for the use of these eyes in the sky, a handful of congressmen are pushing to move forward the date of deployment.

Why would legislators — typically not the most hurry-happy group — be interested in accelerating the drive to permit civilian drone use?

Money.

A collaboration between Hearst Newspapers and the Center for Responsive Politics paints the pecuniary picture:

The drone makers have sought congressional help to speed their entry into a domestic market valued in the billions. The 60-member House of Representatives’ “drone caucus” — officially, the House Unmanned Systems Caucus — has helped push that agenda. And over the last four years, caucus members have drawn nearly $8 million in drone-related campaign contributions….

And:

House members from California, Texas, Virginia and New York on the bipartisan “drone caucus” received the lion’s share of the funds channeled to lawmakers from dozens of firms that are members of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Hearst and CRP found.

Eleven drone caucus lawmakers from California, where many aviation firms are located, received more than $2.4 million from manufacturers’ political action committees and employees during the 2012 and 2010 election cycles, according to CRP tabulation of Federal Election Commission reports.

Eight Texas House members in the caucus received more than $746,000. And four caucus members from New York got more than $185,000 from companies connected to the business of unmanned vehicles.

The big winner of the drone manufacturer lobbying lotto was Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.). According to the investigation, McKeon — cochairman of the House Unmanned Systems Caucus — received $833,650 in contributions from the drone industry. 

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Will Americans Be Stripped of Citizenship Based on Accusation?

In a recent op-ed published in Jurist, St. John’s University School of Law student Christopher Elsee described a scenario he believes threatens the civil rights of his fellow citizens.

Writes Elsee:

Imagine you have just written a check to an organization that sends mechanical engineering textbooks to students in Afghanistan or Iraq. Now further imagine that you have been engaged in this practice for well over a decade because you are interested in helping individuals in developing countries to improve their technical knowledge, with the hopes of enabling them to better themselves. Are you supporting terrorists? According to a proposed piece of legislation, you may very well be.

The legislation Elsee mentions is the Terrorist Expatriation Act. This bill, proposed in 2010 by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), would strip any American accused of terrorism of his citizenship. This would place the suspect outside of the jurisdiction of the U.S. Constitution’s Article III courts and assign the trial on his alleged crimes to a military tribunal.

As Elsee explains:

The act adds offenses such as providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations, engaging in or purposefully and materially supporting hostilities against the US or any country engaged in hostilities alongside the US or providing direct operational support to the US. Another section of the act explains that “material support or resources” means, among other things as the list goes on, property, services, training, expert advice or assistance, communications equipment and facilities.

This illustrates why the person in Elsee’s hypothetical would face expatriation.

A central point of the act not specifically addressed in Elsee’s article is the provision specifying the burden of proof in a case brought under its authority.

Under the Terrorist Expatriation Act, anyone stripped of his citizenship could appeal his expatriation to a federal court, where the federal government would have to demonstrate by “a preponderance of the evidence” that the accused committed the offense with the purpose of relinquishing his citizenship.

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Switching Deck Chairs on the Titanic?

When asked on October 22 during the final presidential debate what he thought about the use of drones, Mitt Romney responded:

Well I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that and entirely, and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology, and believe that we should continue to use it, to continue to go after the people that represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.

It could not be put much plainer: If Republican candidate Mitt Romney becomes president, the United States will continue spreading democracy to the Middle East one Hellfire missile at a time.

Perhaps worse than Romney’s express commitment to carry on disregarding due process by blowing up those he deems “threats,” is the fact that, as with the current occupant of the White House, critical terms such as “threat” will go undefined. By keeping the legislative lines blurry a greater number of targets can be absorbed by the steady creep of a growing grey area.

There are so many problems with this policy and this attitude. First and foremost as pertains to the president’s constitutional authority is Romney’s presumption of the president’s right to act as judge, jury, and executioner of anyone at anytime. This is a fatal misconception — one of many — that he shares with President Obama.

Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, when the judicial and executive powers of government are consolidated and restraints on the exercise of power are cast aside, it can be expected — based on both our knowledge of history and the nature of man — that power will be abused and no one’s rights or life will be safe from elimination by despots.

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“Disposition Matrix”: President’s 10-Year Plan for the Kill List

originally published at The New American Magazine

There will be no end to the War on Terror and the targeting of “suspected militants” will continue and become more sophisticated, according to an article published in theWashington Post on October 23.

In the piece, Greg Miller describes a project the Obama administration has been developing for a couple of years called — in true Orwellian fashion — the “disposition matrix.”

Glen Greenwald at the Guardian (U.K.) describes the matrix’s chain of command:

The “disposition matrix” has been developed and will be overseen by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). One of its purposes is “to augment” the “separate but overlapping kill lists” maintained by the CIA and the Pentagon: to serve, in other words, as the centralized clearinghouse for determining who will be executed without due process based upon how one fits into the executive branch’s “matrix”.

According to reports, the plans for perpetuating and perfecting the death-by-drone program “contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations.”

The article quotes “U.S. officials” saying that the matrix will improve the existing pair of kill lists (one maintained by the President, the other kept by the CIA) by “mapping plans for the ‘disposition’ of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.”

Readers unfamiliar with the argot of the White House and the intelligence community should understand that the phrase “plans for the disposition” of someone means plans for summarily executing a person who has never been accused of a crime and who has never been proven to have any plan to attack the United States or its interests.

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NSA: We Will Illegally Spy on Citizens Only When Absolutely Necessary

originally published at The New American Magazine

The National Security Agency (NSA) says Americans should trust them to use their surveillance powers only for good. This from the group whose leader refused to say how many Americans they are spying on because it was “beyond the capacity of his office and dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission.”

In other words, the NSA is too busy illegally recording our private emails, texts, Facebook posts, and phone calls to figure out how many of us are already caught in their net. And, furthermore, there is nothing Congress can do about it.

Apparently, NSA thinks it’s beyond the court’s oversight, as well.

In a motion to dismiss a class action suit challenging the nearly unlimited scope of the domestic surveillance agency’s monitoring of citizens’ electronic communication, attorneys for the Obama administration argued that it would use the authority granted it under the Terrorist Surveillance Program only when “absolutely necessary” and that disclosing the information requested would require it to reveal protected state secrets.

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Warrantless Wiretapping Worse Under Obama; Fascism on the Rise

On January 20, 2009, America’s liberals rejoiced that the days of Bush-era fascism were over. As an article in Reason magazine reports:

Back then, liberals were raising the alarm about impending fascism because of post-9/11 policies such as warrantless wiretapping, wars of choice, military commissions, indefinite detention and so on.

Warrantless surveillance, for instance, drew intense scrutiny and saturation media coverage from the time it was discovered until approximately 12:05 p.m. EST January 20, 2009. Interest then dropped off markedly. After all, Barack Obama had promised “no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens.” So, problem solved.

Except it wasn’t. In fact, it got worse.

Much worse.

As late as last week, the Supreme Court denied review of an appeal court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Federal Information Securities Amendments Act (FISA).

The FISA Amendments Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush on July 10, 2008 after being overwhelmingly passed 293 to 129 in the House and 69-28 in the Senate. Just a couple of days prior to its being enacted, Representative Ron Paul and a coalition of Internet activists united to create a political action committee, Accountability Now, and conduct a money bomb in order to raise money to purchase ad buys to alert voters to the names of those congressmen (Republican and Democratic) who voted in favor of the act.

George W. Bush’s signature was but the public pronouncement of the ersatz legality of the wiretapping that was otherwise revealed to the public in a New York Times article published on December 16, 2005. That article, entitled “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,” described the brief history of the “anti-terrorist” program:

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Supreme Court Allows NSA’s Warrantless Wiretapping to Continue

On October 9, the Supreme Court denied review of an appeal court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Federal Information Securities Amendments Act (FISA).

The FISA Amendments Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush on July 10, 2008 after being overwhelmingly passed 293 to 129 in the House and 69-28 in the Senate. Just a couple of days prior to its being enacted, Representative Ron Paul and a coalition of Internet activists united to create a political action committee, Accountability Now, and conduct a money bomb in order to raise money to purchase ad buys to alert voters to the names of those congressmen (Republican and Democratic) who voted in favor of the act.

George W. Bush’s signature was but the public pronouncement of the ersatz legality of the wiretapping that was otherwise revealed to the public in a New York Times article published on December 16, 2005. That article, entitled “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,” described the brief history of the “anti-terrorist” program:

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible “dirty numbers” linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval was a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency (NSA), whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.

At issue in the case the Supreme Court refused to hear, Hepting, et al v. AT&T, et al, was the government’s use of provisions of FISA to grant retroactive protection from prosecution to several telecommunications giants including AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. These companies aided the government in wiretapping the phones of subscribers without obtaining a warrant.

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