The 5th Amendment to the Constitution makes a promise to Americans: No one can be deprived of their liberty without due process. Under the Constitution, you can’t be thrown in prison unless you have been convicted of the crime you’re accused of, and the conviction has to take place through a fair trial.
H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), ignores these constitutional rights. The legislation, if signed into law by Barack Obama, will grant legal authority to arrest Americans on U.S. soil, and throw them into prison for life without any trial, or even any criminal charge.
The mere accusation that an American is in some way associated with a terrorist organization will be all the grounds required for a life sentence in prison. The government won’t be required to prove the guilt of the imprisoned. If Homeland Security bureaucrats decide to target an American, they’ll be able to lock that person away forever, and there won’t be anything anyone can do about it.
The NDAA is profoundly unconstitutional, and unAmerican.
There was a time we could have said that such legislation was unDemocratic as well. Once upon a time, the Democratic Party promised to restore the integrity of the Constitution and the rule of law. They promised an end to indefinite detentions. That time is over.
Once, Hawaii’s Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye gave speeches decrying the “shadow government.” Now, Senator Inouye has embraced that shadow government. Both he and Hawaii’s other senator, Daniel Akaka, voted yesterday to approve H.R. 1540. The Democratic Party of Hawaii now stands against protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens. Hawaii’s top Democrats have voted in support of removing one of the first freedoms established after the Revolutionary War – freedom from arbitrary imprisonment.