Push back against indefinite detention without due process written into the National Defense Authorization Act, along with unconstitutional provisions in the Patriot Act and other surveillance oriented federal legislation continues at many different levels.

Here at the Tenth Amendment Center, we focus primarily on state and local solutions, specifically state nullification and local non-cooperation with federal agents acting against people on American soil without due process.

But efforts to repeal indefinite detention and reform the Patriot act also continue in Washington D.C.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee recently kicked off a grassroots lobbying effort to coincide with Congress’ fall recess. The break offers the perfect opportunity to track down senators and representatives in their home districts and push them to pass civil liberty preserving legislation.

“The constitutional abuses of our national security state are too entrenched for any individual, or any politician, to overcome.  Even though the PATRIOT Act and FISA allow the NSA and FBI to monitor law-abiding people en masse, and the NDAA could allow the military to kidnap and detain activists and journalists without trial, a movement of millions — visible in all the places where we find ourselves — can still restore democracy in America. It’s happening right now all across the country, one city at a time,” BORDC executive director Shahid Buttar said.

The JUSTICE Act counts among the most important bills up for consideration. The act would reform the PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendments Act and other surveillance authorities to protect Americans’ constitutional rights, while preserving the powers of our government to fight terrorism. According to the BORDC, the JUSTICE Act includes:

  • Revisions to the “material support” standard upheld in the Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder case in 2010, to require that prosecutors prove that defendants knowingly intended their support to further violent extremism.
  • More effective checks on government searches of Americans’ personal records, the “sneak and peek” search provision of the PATRIOT Act, “John Doe” roving wiretaps, and other overbroad authorities
  • Better oversight of the use of national security letters (NSLs) as repeatedly recommended by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General in reports detailing recurring and widespread misuse and abuse of NSLs.
  • Reforms to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to prevent bulk collection of the contents of Americans’ international communications, repeal the provision granting retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have facilitated widespread violations of constitutional rights, and prohibit “reverse targeting” of innocent Americans.

Constituents also need to encourage their representatives and senators to refuse to vote for any versions of the 2013 NDAA that do not affirmatively eliminate the domestic military detention powers of the 2011 NDAA. Amendments offered by Rep. Smith (D-Wash.) and Rep. Amash (R-Mich.), as well as standalone legislation sponsored by Rep. Garamendi (D-Calif.) offer the most effective protections.

The BORDC has put together a fantastic toolkit for grassroots lobbying, including strategies and talking points. To check it out, click HERE.

Mike Maharrey

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