Yesterday marked the day when a defense appropriations bill went through the senate. It passed at a vote of 93 to 7. The crowd can cheer, as we will be able to continue defending our nation. There is, however, a little attachment to the bill that should have every American not cheering, but quaking in fear. As I understand it, it states that anyone suspected of terrorist activity can be detained by our military and held indefinitely without a trial. I'm not talking about suspects on foreign soils. I'm talking about American citizens.
Now, look...I know we have our villains here. "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." And there are those who would sympathize with various terrorist groups. But this law is going to end up catching a number of people who have no interest in such things; they just happen to ACCIDENTALLY fit the profile of what officials would deem a terrorist.
Watching Jon Stewart, there was a clip of one senator discussing those things that would constitute a potential terrorist. Waterproofed firearms. (So any cop with a waterproofed weapon in a rainy spot of America - say Washington State - is probably a terrorist for protecting the weapon he lives by.) Hands with missing fingers. (My landlord must be a terrorist, then.) More than seven days of food in one's pantry. Heck, on that last one, Becky and I, as well as probably a few million homes in America could be suspected of terrorism. (When a microwaveable meal goes for $1.50 less at Wal-Mart than at the market across the street, we try to stock up.)
There was this commercial after 9/11. (Watch it! It's only 30 seconds.) When watching it so shortly after 9/11, my heart would swell with pride in our country. We DID change. I felt we'd become stronger; that we'd bonded over our mutual tragedy. I was simultaneously made sick when it seemed so many Arab-Americans were targeted for hate crimes, simply because of their national origin or religion. We're better than that...or we could be.
But then, over the years, slowly but surely, we started seeing various freedoms taken away. I was all for the extended wait at airports while my belongings were searched. I even tolerated the limited amount of toiletry chemicals I was permitted to bring on a plane. And we were almost instantly hit with the PATRIOT* Act, which was passed less than two months after the attack. To almost every eye watching, it seemed to be rushed through the legislative process, and signed into law with almost NO ONE reading it. As per John Conyers, Jr., via Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, "We don't read most of the bills. Do you know what that would entail if we read every bill that we passed?" It's scary, and misinterpreted or not, many people felt that the FBI having a blank check on wire tapping was terrifying in its own right.
Then this new agency popped up, the TSA, and it started making headlines that they were getting carried away with their searches. I mean, is patting down the seven-year-old girl really necessary? What about the eighty-six-year-old grandmother in a wheelchair? Once again, every eye on this agency seems to think they have entirely too much power, with virtually no oversight.
Along with the TSA came new technologies, which allowed total strangers to see what was beneath our clothes. Leave it to one woman, Tammy Banovac, to use methods to get past and around the screenings of the TSA, who said of a previous experience, "If it happened anywhere else, it would have been sexual assault."
Now this new law, which would allow anyone SUSPECTED of terrorist activity can be detained without so much as a word permitted in defense. No trial. No lawyer. No nothing.
But don't worry. President Obama plans to veto the bill. Why? Well, Jon Stewart put a spin on it, making it sound as though the White House will veto it because it doesn't grant the President ABSOLUTE POWER. From what brief reading I've done, it's because such powers already exist. "The authorities granted by the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorist, including the detention authority, are essential to our ability to protect the American people...Because the authorities codified in this section already exist, the Administration does not believe codification is necessary and poses some risk."
Oh good. I feel so much better.
That commercial, where it claims the terrorists changed America...? They succeeded, alright. They've helped to turn us more and more into a police state than any other effort made before. "Land of the free. Home of the brave."
Well, mostly free.
Be well, and DFTBA.
*Edited after I was "Targeted." =P