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Ordered Liberty

The Tea Party Should Oppose Latest Terrorist Bill of Rights

May 17th, 2012 - 4:39 am

The reckless crew is at it again.

Libertarian extremists, who purport to be the face of the tea party movement, and their pals on the Lawyer Left, whose obsession is more rights for mass-murderers, are again making common cause. Their target, once more, is the detention procedure codified in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This time the ringleaders are Representatives Justin Amash (R., MI) and Adam Smith (D., WA). With a new NDAA up for consideration, these congressmen are reprising the starring role played a few months back by Sen. Rand Paul (R., KY). I argued in opposition to Sen. Paul’s gambit here and here.

Under the Smith-Amash amendment, if al Qaeda were to dispatch the second coming of Mohamed Atta & Co. to execute another 9/11-style atrocity in the United States, but this time the FBI managed to apprehend them, they would be given the full rights of American civilian defendants. They could not be detained under the laws of war, they could not be held at Guantanamo Bay for trial by military commission. Instead, they would be treated like garden variety crooks: given Miranda warnings, quickly assigned counsel, held in a civilian prison, eligible for prompt bail hearings, entitled to the full breadth of discovery mandated by civilian due process, and given a full-blown, Grade-A civilian trial in a civilian federal court – just like the trial the Obama administration tried to give Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other surviving 9/11 plotters until public outrage and congressional opposition induced the administration to back down.

Naturally, you won’t be hearing that from the congressmen and their allies – like Rep. Ron Paul, who has come out in support. They know if the wages of their bill were properly understood, they would swiftly be dismissed, including by most Tea Partiers, who are not anti-government but pro-limited government and thus appreciate that national defense is a paramount federal role.

So instead, the congressmen repeat Sen. Paul’s pitch, claiming to be defending the rights of American citizens. They maintain, as Senator Paul did, that the 2012 NDAA expanded the powers of the president to designate American citizens as enemy combatants, to have the military round them up, and to lock them up and throw away the key. Their hysteria is amplified by the likes of the John Birch Society’s outlet, The New American, which asserts that, under the NDAA, Americans could “be subject to military tribunals such as the one currently considering the case of the so-called ‘Gitmo Five’” – i.e., the ongoing military prosecution of KSM and his cohorts. Not to be outdone, Rep. Paul chimes in, “I don’t believe a republic can exist if you permit the military to arrest American citizens and put them in secret prisons and be denied a trial.”

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