As most already realize, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 authorized the president to indefinitely detain or otherwise dispose of anyone, American citizen or not, that “substantially supported” our enemies or their “associated forces.” No definition of the quoted terms has been forthcoming from our rulers. Furthermore, as a recent Washington Post article by the venerable Greg Miller has informed us, the vast amount of information compiled on all American citizens and on all foreign citizens that have captured the attention of our benevolent protectors, has been coupled with the president’s hit list under one roof outside of Washington D.C. There, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) oversees a “disposition matrix,” where “disposition” refers to disposing of human beings without charge or trial, using all the best resources the government can muster to efficiently kill or capture our enemies, real or imagined.
Many readers may not find these developments alarming. Surely we have the right to fight our enemies, and we shouldn’t hamstring ourselves to some abstract “rule of law” at the expense of our safety. These points are fair enough, but miss the significance of the fact that the administration has no burden of proof whatsoever to overcome before “disposing” of someone, even an American citizen. For instance, Obama could point to Romney, whisper “enemy combatant” to one of his thugs, and end the election before Tuesday. Obama would have to answer to nobody for this action, and he has the legal authority to carry it out. When he ordered the murder of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen without charging him with any crime, and without presenting any evidence to anyone, he avoided questions by hiding behind executive privilege. Only weeks later, Obama ordered another drone strike that killed Awlaki's 16 year old son, and also refused to answer the serious questions surrounding that strike. The “most transparent administration ever” indeed.
It is highly unlikely that the president would use his tyrannical powers against Romney in order to avoid an election Obama will almost certainly win. My point is only that the powers Obama has claimed would give him the legal ability to do so. All he would have to do is claim that he is privy to some intelligence indicating Romney “substantially supported” (whatever that means) some force “associated” with a designated enemy of the U.S. Since he cannot be compelled to release the intelligence to the public or to a court of law, none of us would know whether the intelligence exists or is reliable. If he was so inclined, he could whatever he pleases with Romney (and his sons too, don’t forget).
Given these developments, do we have anything left to fight for, any freedom to protect? Does it really make sense to fight our enemies by giving up what we’re fighting for in the first place? Anyone with the slightest idea of what it means to an American patriot should find these expansions of executive power unconscionable and should be speaking out against them. All government, tyrannical or not, ultimately rests on the consent of the people, and we are tacitly giving this consent by letting Obama get away with a blatant gutting of the Constitution which would make even George W. Bush blush. That this abandonment of the rule of law in the U.S. was done under a “constitutional scholar” is so sickening it verges on the debilitating. Whatever “hope” Obama supporters once harbored for him should be forsaken in favor of self-respect. That most of the abuse under these laws is inflicted on other people is no reason to keep quiet: if other American citizens can be detained indefinitely or killed without due process, then you can as well.
Disclaimer: None of this should be construed as an endorsement of Romney, who has repeatedly voiced his intent to continue these policies and has hinted that he would be even more ruthlessly bloodthirsty than Obama has been.