In Late December, The US Congress passed “The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013,” which was signed into law by President Obama last Wednesday.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a United States federal law which designates the budget and expenditures of the US Department of Defense. The DOD uses the money to buy the best equipment and supplies for our military. It will also provide for the training and support of US soldiers. The major portion of the fund covers the cost of maintaining US bases, here and around the world. Our troops depend on this measure for their very survival.
Regrettably, members of the US Congress continuously add new provisions and expenditures to this law, which contribute to its controversial nature with every year’s passing. Congressmen will denounce fellow lawmakers as unpatriotic if they complain about the bills financial overspending or unconstitutional overreach.
There are few Representatives who can withstand such personal and political attacks no matter how valid the call for rational spending and constitutional restraints.
In its current form the NDAA is an example of how politicians can take a necessary and well-intentioned bill and turn it into a bankroll for political pet projects, which develop into nothing more than corporate welfare programs for the military elite or more appropriately, “corporate fascism.” It is what Eisenhower warned the nation of in his farewell speech about the Military Industrial Complex. The NDAA is just one legislative apparatus that funds this international conglomerate of clandestine war profiteers----mostly paid for by the US taxpayer.
Recently retired Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who has consistently voted against the NDAA, was quoted “There are many other measures in this NDAA Conference Report to be concerned about. It continues to fund our disastrous wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere for example.”
The price tag for the NDAA 2013 will slightly exceed $633 billion, which is $29 billion less than the current level, largely due to smaller amounts for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the bill was $1.7 billion more than what the President asked for and that amount would not have changed even if the country would have fallen over the “Fiscal Cliff.” The Energy Department will take in $17 billion for defense and nuclear programs. The war in Afghanistan was appropriated $88.5 billion from this law and The DOD’s budget will receive $528 billion for military bases.
The US has over 900 bases in over 130 foreign countries. The federal government could cut the overall cost of the military by eliminating many of these bases and their staff. Plus, it would further limit America’s extended liability.
According to award-winning journalist Chris Hedges, and several legal rights activists, the NDAA “codified martial law” and allows for the “indefinite detention” of American citizens. Mr. Hedges and several diverse groups of civil libertarians filed a lawsuit against The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. The current version of the law contains the same contentious sections.
On December 17, 2012, an Amicus-Brief formulating the four major arguments was filled:
- 1. Sections of The NDAA 2012 were written to be subject to various interpretations.
2. The government’s argument that plaintiffs have no standing to challenge NDAA section 1021(b)(2) on its face, because the section is not a regulation of “primary conduct,” should be rejected.
3. Section 1021(b) (2) of the NDAA is unconstitutional under the First Amendment and Fifth Amendment and those rights are not foreclosed by the law of war.
4. As a member of the third branch of the federal government, the Supreme Court has a duty to address the constitutional issues in this case as repeatedly asserted by the several states.
The National Defense Authorization Act went even further and intentionally offended the clergy who serve in the military.
Originally there was language in Section 536 & 537 that gave protection to the conscience of the clergy in the military who did not want to perform same-sex marriages, because of their religious beliefs. Many religious people, including Christians, maintain this violates their First Amendment right to freedom of religion. The Republicans in Congress caved on this issue, because they were trying to avoid the perception of appearing homophobic, especially after blaming women and Hispanics for the loss of their party’s bid for the White House. Both sections were taken out of the final draft of the finished document proving, that in today’s climate, political
correctness trumps constitutional values every time.
Several organizations have focused on thwarting some of the more provocative sections of this law. One group, The Oath Keepers, is lobbying state legislatures to enact state laws preventing the individual states from participating in any unlawful actions under the guise of enforcing the NDAA. The group is seeking resolutions from County Boards and City Councils condemning portions of the bill.
The Commonwealth of Virginia enacted a law barring any state agency or political subdivision or employee or the National Guard from knowingly aiding an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the detention of any citizen under NDAA provisions. The Arizona legislature overwhelmingly passed a similar bill, but it was vetoed by Republican Governor Janice Brewer.
What can we do?
Both of the Senators who represent the State of Oregon, Senator Wyden & Senator Merkley, bravely voted against the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 and Oregonians should be very proud of their principled stance. The people need to show their solidarity for their US Congressmen’s decision on this issue by calling the state legislature to demand the State Representatives of Oregon do the same and protect their constituents from the illegal sections of this injudicious federal law.
The citizens of Coos County can call the Board of Commissioners at 541-396-7535 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and insist that the Commissioners protect the rights of the people and pass a resolution severely condemning The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013.
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