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Audio: Lila Garrett and David Swanson on the National Defense Authorization Act

Here's audio of Lila Garrett's KPFK show "Connect the Dots" on the NDAA and Section 1031 thereof: LISTEN.


Rep. Robert Hurt Just Sent Me a Letter

When a group of us citizens visited Rep. Hurt's Charlottesville office on Thursday, his staff said there was a press release on his website already explaining his vote against the National Defense Authorization Act. There wasn't.

I thanked Hurt on his FaceBook page, and he deleted the thank you.

It is likely no press release was sent to the press because there has been no story printed or reported anywhere, to my knowledge, outside of my commentary on Coy Barefoot's radio show.

Sure, for the first time in modern memory, a Fifth District Congress Member has voted against a "Defense" bill, and he's done so because it savages the Bill of Rights. But those facts do not override the supreme Commandment of Journalism, namely: Thou Shalt Not Report on Government Until Goverment Tells You What to Report in a Handy Press Release.

On the other hand, Hurt's DC office told me on the phone, and his staff in Charlottesville told me in person, that he voted No because of his opposition to the measure allowing eternal imprisonment without trial. And now he has said the same in a letter I just received:

"After studying the controversial provisions and after hearing from many in the Fifth District, I concluded that the detainee provisions in the bill did not provide clear and unambiguous protection of the constitutional rights of American citizens. For this reason, I opposed the bill on final passage."

The bill easily passed. It is unlikely Hurt received much flak from the Republican Party for this vote. But he would if he were to publicly demand a veto. He would if he were to introduce legislation similar to Senator Feinstein's excluding US legal residents from the newly codified abuses. And he certainly would if he were to expand that remedy to protect the rights of the other 95% of humanity.

But why would Hurt take any further steps when nobody even knows he took this one?

Set Your Doomsday Clock to 11:51

The National Defense Authorization Act is not a leap from democracy to tyranny, but it is another major step on a steady and accelerating decade-long march toward a police state. The doomsday clock of our republic just got noticeably closer to midnight, and the fact that almost nobody knows it, simply moves that fatal minute-hand a bit further still.

Protest Life-Imprisonment Without Charge or Trial: Thursday, December 15, Noon, Robert Hurt's Charlottesville Office

The National Defense Authorization Act, if it becomes law, will allow the U.S. president and military to lock you or anyone else up indefinitely without charge or trial. President Obama had threatened to veto, because he wanted even more power than that. He wanted the power to imprison or murder anyone with or without the military. The conference committee has modified the bill to accomodate him. Now the bill goes to a final vote in the House and Senate, and then to the President for a signature, a veto, or -- as long as we're trashing the Constitution anyway -- a possible law-altering signing statement.

This bill is a direct assault on the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth amendments. That's the majority of our Bill of Rights. Thursday, December 15th is Bill of Rights Day. Here's how we can celebrate:

Be at Congressman Hurt's office at noon to demand that he vote "No" (or to protest if he has already voted "Yes" by then).

This is part of a national effort and there is more information available at

Rep. Robert Hurt's Office

686 Berkmar Circle

Charlottesville, VA 22901

Phone: 434-973-9631 Fax: 434-973-9635

Phone for DC office: 202-225-4711

Imprisoning of Japanese Americans and the New Defense Authorization Act

I'm editing a book in which one of the contributors writes:

In 1971, Congress passed the Anti-Detention Act, 18 U.S.C. § 4001(a), which states that "no person shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress." Fred Koramatsu, who had brought the unsuccessful case before the Supreme Court, was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor. Congress apologized and provided for limited reparations for this heinous act.

Presumably this would be trashed by the bill now before the conference committee and soon headed to the President for a signature or veto. 

The criminal abuse of Japanese Americans for which Congress had to apologize and pay reparations, and for which there is a misleadingly pro-war looking memorial hidden between the U.S. Capitol and Union Station, will now be sanctioned by the current Congress/President. 

Can you feel the pride?

Are you fired up?

The more things CHANGE . . .

What to Replace the Imprison-Americans Bill With

The funny thing about the bill that the Senate just passed that lets presidents and the military lock you up without a charge or a trial — well, not funny ha ha but funny unusual — is that the basic bill to which that little monstrosity was attached is even worse. It's a bill to dump over $650 billion into wars and aggressive weaponry, continue the slaughter in Afghanistan, ramp up the creation and use of drones, and expand U.S. military bases around the globe.

Why We Need a Veto More Than Ever

The Merkley amendment calling for a swifter withdrawal from Afghanistan passed on Wednesday.  And a "compromise" was forced on Thursday over the section allowing process-free imprisonment of anyone, including U.S. citizens.

Sadly, the so-called compromise simply states that this new law will not change existing law.  Yet this new law's language is worse than existing written law, and the Obama Administration's view of existing law is worse still.

We must demand a veto of this bill more clearly and loudly than ever.

This meaningless compromise was reach after the Senate voted down both Udall's amendment stripping out the offending language and an amendment from Feinstein creating an exception for U.S. citizens to the newly codified presidential power to imprison people without charge or trial.

We simply cannot accept our government allowing the President and the military to lock us away in violation of our Constitutional rights.

The Two Occupations of DC

The occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC was planned for several months to begin on the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan War.  It was planned prior to and quickly endorsed and supported the planning for Occupy Wall St.  In numerous blog posts through the summer I described it as an occupation.  Here is a video of me demanding an occupation of DC and George Galloway demanding an occupation of London.  This is from June:

I bring this up because there are now two occupations in DC, both of them wonderful.  I wish we had three!  For the most part they support each other and work together well.  But there are some persistent people in one of them, the occupation of McPherson Square, who -- rather than protesting the plutocracy -- have devoted themselves to the hopeless crusade of getting everyone to stop using the word "occupation" in connection with the occupation of Freedom Plaza.

Despite having planned an occupation for the better part of a year and described it with that word from Day 1, we tried to accomodate our brothers and sisters in the OccupyDC encampment in McPherson Square.  We repeatedly told all media outlets to call us October2011 or Stop the Machine or at least the Occupation of Freedom Plaza rather than of DC or even of Washington.  To no avail.  We will forever be understood as a spin off of Occupy Wall Street and as the Occupation of Washington, DC.

And, I'm sorry, but who the hell cares?  If the energy devoted to pestering me about the proper names for our two occupations were devoted to nonviolently resisting the work of the 1% government in Washington, we might pull this country and this world back from the brink.

Let's think of our priorities.

Let's work together.

Let's be glad they aren't calling us worse things.

Let's invent new things to be called.

Let's make them inclusive things.

If we are the 99% we are the 99% together as one movement, even if we have multiple general assemblies.