Some senators would designate U.S. a battlefield in war on terror

“Later this week,” Sen. Mark Udall announced on Monday, “the Senate will vote on my amendment to remove potentially harmful provisions from the National Defense Authorization Act that could damage our nation’s ability to combat terrorism and weaken our national security.”

Udall refers to provisions other senators slipped into the defense authorization act to “give the military the power to indefinitely detain accused enemy combatants — including Americans captured on U.S. soil.” The provisions were written by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

“These changes were written without consulting the Department of Defense or the law enforcement community,” Udall explained, “and they could amount to an unprecedented expansion of military power inside the United States.”

Neither the president, Secretary of Defense, Pentagon generals, nor state governors have endorsed the bill. But determined conservatives, with the support of some Blue Dog Democrats, insist on including these “detention provisions” in the Defense Act.

Udall pointedly questions the practicality of using Army units to police American civilians. But his most compelling argument against the detention provisions is that “these provisions raise serious questions as to who we are as a society and what our Constitution seeks to protect.”

One section of the detention provisions, Udall charges, “would be interpreted as allowing the military to capture and indefinitely detain American citizens on U.S. soil,” In effect, Udall explains, the amendment “repeals the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 by authorizing the U.S. military to perform law enforcement functions on American soil.”

As Udall wryly notes, “That alone should alarm my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”

The Maine Tea Party alerted members that the law would be wide open for abuse because all kinds of ordinary behavior could be interpreted as potential indicators of domestic terrorism. “Americans could be declared domestic terrorists and thrown in a military brig with no recourse whatsoever,”  the blog warns.

Sometimes offending both ends of the political spectrum is evidence of a reasonable compromise between opposing positions. But not here. Despite the senators’ fear mongering, America is not a battleground. Or, at least not the one imagined by senators who support the amended defense act. But if these senators persist in trampling on the fundamental civil rights of Americans, they may create a cause that can unite the tea party and the Occupy Wall Street movement against an increasingly oppressive government.

That’s when America will be a battleground.

Colorado voters can help Udall prevent these unforeseen consequences by a strong show of support for his defense of ordinary American against the over-reach of conservative Senators.

Bill Grant lives in Grand Junction. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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