The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 breezed through Congress and headed to the White House, even though public opposition to parts of the bill, now directed at President Obama in the hope of a hail Mary veto, remains strong. The most troubling aspects of the bill violate fundamental rights provided in the U.S. Constitution to American citizens by giving the government sweeping power to indefinitely detain citizens without trial. Like many other pieces of legislation, this year’s NDAA is another push in a long series of movements marching the U.S. Towards a hard right, nearly fascist state.
In addition to this, the NDAA also contains troubling language regarding Department of Defense interests in Iran, China, Wikileaks, defense contractors and more. A report from a conference on the NDAA contains tough talk in respect to both China and Iran. Considering the amount of saber rattling many warhawks have already engaged in, one has to wonder seriously whether the U.S. Could further engage in military actions towards Iran and what exactly, the DOD believes our attitude towards the Chinese will be in the coming year. The bill contains an amendment which requires economic sanctions towards entities in Iran as well as a provision for “an independent review of current U.S. Capability gaps to counter Iran and China” (emphasis mine). The conference report also says it “takes steps to ensure that the United States is fully prepared to defend our vital interests against an emerging competitor” in regards to China.
Given the information dumps from Wikileaks over past two years, as well as the horrid treatment of Private Bradley Manning, on trial for providing information to Wikileaks, the Pentagon is very interested in keeping other potential whistleblowers at bay. The Defense Department’s research arm already expressed interest this year in employing a disinformation campaign against would be Wikileakers. The NDAA conference report codifies that interest, saying it:
Requires the Secretary of Defense to establish a comprehensive program to detect unauthorized uses of classified information. Requires technological solutions, updated policies and procedures, and enforcement measures to assist with detection of such unauthorized activities.
The NDAA would also eliminate oversight regarding ties politicians have to defense contractors. In the name of keeping “the acquisition process free from political influence,” the act no longer requires contractors to declare their political contributions before applying for defense contracts. In other words, Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumann needn’t disclose campaign donations if they wish to produce another budgetary sinkhole like the F-35, for which the NDAA provides another $8.5 billion.
Not only does this year’s NDAA push America closer to the brink of a police state and moves us inches closer to new wars, it highlights the machinations of a broken political system. National security experts don’t want it, military leaders don’t want it, the director of the FBI doesn’t want it, Civil Liberties experts don’t want it, the people don’t want it and yet, it passed both legislative bodies and awaits the President’s signature. The majority of legislators show little concern for the will of the people they supposedly serve. Should President Obama decide to sign the bill, it will show the executive branch is no more interested in preserving the will of the people and the core of our democracy than the legislators who ignored overwhelming opposition to this piece of legislation.
If there’s any wonder why so many citizens devote their time to protest, why nearly half of the American people believe this is the “worst Congress ever” and another third call it “below average,” it is because politicians now brazenly defy the will of their constituents. If our democracy is to survive, politicians must become public servants, rather than oligarchs only interested in maintaining their power.