By Elizabeth DiNovella on November 29, 2011

The Senate is back in session this week and slated to continue to debate and possibly vote on a disastrous piece of legislation -- the National Defense Authorization Act.

The bill, known as S. 1867, would authorize spending for military personnel, weapons systems, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for the fiscal year that began October 1.

Sections 1031 and 1032 have both civil libertarians and the Obama Administration howling, albeit for divergent reasons.

Section 1031 would allow "a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States" to be held in military custody. The bill also authorizes "detention under the law of war without trial until the end of hostilities."

The ACLU issued a warning about the bill. "The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself," the ACLU notes on its blog.

The ACLU says the way to stop this legislation is through the Udall Amendment, which "would strip the detention provisions and mandates a process for Congress to use an orderly process to consider whether any detention legislation is needed."

The Obama Administration takes issue with detainee matters, too, but not due to civil liberties concerns. Rather, the Administration's November 17 statement says section 1032 would "tie the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement professionals."

It goes on to say: "Broadly speaking, the detention provisions in this bill micromanage the work of our experienced counterterrorism professionals, including our military commanders, intelligence professionals, seasoned counterterrorism prosecutors, or other operatives in the field. These professionals have successfully led a Government-wide effort to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qa'ida and its affiliates and adherents over two consecutive Administrations. The Administration believes strongly that it would be a mistake for Congress to overrule or limit the tactical flexibility of our Nation's counterterrorism professionals.

"Any bill that challenges or constrains the President's critical authorities to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the Nation would prompt the President's senior advisers to recommend a veto."

Equally troubling are the Administration's concerns about "Provisions Authorizing Activities with Partner Nations," which sounds a lot like intervention. The Administration statement says: " ... several provisions may affect Executive branch agility in the implementation of this authority. Section 1204 (relating to Yemen) would require a 60-day notify and wait period not only for Yemen, but for all other countries as well, which would impose an excessive delay and seriously impede the Executive branch's ability to respond to emerging requirements."

Obama caught Bin Laden but the USA still needs to be agile in its defense?

Where is Senator Russ Feingold when you need him? Unfortunately, not in Congress. Ron Johnson, who is now Wisconsin's junior Senator, did not have a statement at press time.

OccupySF is taking a stand against the bill. It organized emergency protest march for Monday, set to begin at noon at Justin Herman Plaza.

If you liked this story by Elizabeth DiNovella, the Culture Editor of The Progressive magazine, check out her story "Recall Petition Ripping?."

Follow Elizabeth DiNovella @lizdinovella on Twitter.


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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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