The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

A Stroke of the Pen Cancels Bill of Rights

Jan 9, 2012

On December 31, 2011, the last day of the old year, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2012 – and cancelled, once again, the Bill of Rights for U.S. citizens.

The NDAA includes sections that authorize the indefinite detention and torture of U.S. citizens by the U.S. military! That is, a U.S. citizen can now be as easily “disappeared” as in any banana republic.

If detained by the military, a citizen is totally deprived of rights. No right to know the charges; no right to face the accuser; no right to trial at all, let alone a jury trial, let alone a speedy one; no right to legal counsel; no right to remain silent – absolutely no civil rights whatever. A person could be kept in prison for the rest of his life with no charges being filed at all.

Although Obama tried to shift the blame, these sections were specifically demanded by his Administration, as Senator Carl Levin told the Senate.

The NDAA takes up where Bush’s infamous Patriot Act left off. Now, not only can a citizen’s phone be watched and their library reading spied upon. If caught speaking to the “wrong people” or reading the “wrong things”, a citizen can be accused of a “belligerent” act and be “disappeared” into military custody – for as long as the military and its Commander-in-Chief desire.

We are told this law is anti-terrorist. If that were so, then the government would not need it! There is already a vast oversupply of laws perfectly usable against any conceivable form of terrorism. No, this law is calculated for use against the coming protests and rebellion in the population.

The government understands that the “Occupy” protests are merely a hint of the rebellion to come, as deep recession and unemployment continue, as social services and safety nets are more and more cut back, as desperation grows at the bottom and middle of society – while billions of needed dollars are hoarded by multi-billionaires at the top, and kept unproductive. In the service of those billionaires, the government now prepares the mechanisms to use against anyone who may fight for something better in life – something better that might require a bit of sacrifice from the billionaire class.

This is not the first time that the Bill of Rights has been cancelled for certain selected citizens. Bush’s Patriot Act itself cancelled the rights of privacy, association, and free speech, and led to harassment and persecutions of many who opposed the Iraq War. Members of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee and of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization are still under threat of indictment by a federal grand jury in Chicago.

The McCarthy persecutions of the 1950s also threw aside citizens’ rights and caused many to be blacklisted, indicted and jailed for no other crime than using their rights of speech and association – and, not by coincidence, using those rights to organize unions, to fight for workers’ rights on the job.

The law signed by Obama also harks back further, to 1940, to the arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of 28 militants of the Socialist Workers Party – merely for saying in writing that they were against the new capitalist world war. Those jailed included the most important leaders of the Socialist Workers Party and the core Midwest leadership of the revitalized Teamsters Union. Those militants had led the 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strikes, and springing from there, directed a surge of Teamster organizing among drivers and warehousemen across the entire Midwest. Depriving citizens of their rights was handy when it came to taming a workers’ movement, too!

Obama didn’t only sign a Pentagon appropriation bill. He signed a threat against anyone who decides to fight against any of the capitalists’ plans.

Which only goes to prove how necessary it is to take up the fight against such unbridled, arrogant power.