Do you know where your democracy is?

S1867 could make the United States — and the world — into a battlefield. The implications for our freedoms are staggering

BRATTLEBORO — As far as I can tell, democracy is designed to offer two basic protections from government tyranny:

1. Protection of the person, including personal liberty.

2. Protection of private property.

If that's the case, then why has the Senate just “democratically” approved (93-7) Senate Bill S1867, the National Defense Authorization Act?

The House has already passed its version of the bill, and a secret joint committee will now finalize the wording before sending a mutually agreed upon version back through Congress and on to President Obama for signing into law.

If you haven't heard of S1867 - and it's highly likely that you haven't, since the mainstream media has done a good job of pretending that it doesn't exist - here are some of its major effects.

As its supporter, Republican Senator Lyndsey Graham says, S1867 effectively designates, the United States – all of it – and the entire world as a permanent battlefield.

Brattleboro will officially be declared a battle zone in the same way that Baghdad and Kabul are.

Thus, S1867 authorizes the U.S. military to operate according to military law - not civil law - anywhere in the world, at any time, in an endless purported war on terror and terrorists.

I note here that, globally, the average person has about a 93-million-to-1 chance of being killed in a terrorist attack. There is a greater chance that you will be struck by lightning multiple times or die from a bee sting.

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The loss that S1867 would inflict on our personal freedom and our protection against government tyranny is obvious, and it is summed up by James Madison's statement that “No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of perpetual war.”

Specifically, S1867 authorizes the U.S. military to forcibly capture, indefinitely detain and torture - including waterboarding, and even killing - suspected terrorists, without charging them with anything, without telling anyone of their detainment, without letting them consult a lawyer, and without any hearing.

The military can arbitrarily apply this designation of “terror suspect” to American citizens and anybody else, in any numbers, with or without a reason, anywhere in the world.

The focus of this military policing activity, according to S1867, is the country's now-perpetual purported military engagement with al-Qaida and other alleged and suspected terrorists worldwide.

In other words, S1867 would provide a license for the U.S. military to secretly and arbitrarily arrest, torture, and kill people not for what they are accused of doing, but for what they might one day plan to do.

* * *

The success of S1867 isn't a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to the erosion of personal liberties which former President George W. Bush started thanks to 9/11, an erosion that Obama has accelerated.

The new powers that S1867 will grant the U.S. military, if the bill is signed into law, will supplement the military's increasingly powerful intelligence arm, which is designed to be used against American citizens.

S1867 effectively abolishes what's known as Posse Comitatus, the 1878 law that once prevented the U.S. military from being turned against the U.S. population.

While the increasing militarization of domestic police forces makes telling the difference between police and military increasingly difficult, there are reports of entire battalions of returning Iraq and other vets that are being trained to engage in house-to-house combat with U.S. citizens, be they unruly demonstrators or alleged “Right Wing Militia."

S1867 arrives in the swirl of the PATRIOT Act, which provides tyrannical powers to non-military domestic police forces, and which stripped U.S. citizens of many of their Constitutional rights.

S1867 arrives at a time in which the Transportation Security Administration is roaming the country with its Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams, secretly X-raying - yes, X-raying - citizens' vehicles to see what's inside them, as well as forcing bus and train passengers to undergo airport-style body scanning and “enhanced patdowns,” the Fourth Amendment notwithstanding.

S1867 also arrives when thousands of new city street lights are being built and installed with surveillance cameras and microphones attached to them.

Most tellingly, though, S1867 arrives at a time when the U.S. government and its banking sponsors are experiencing the beginning of massive blowback from their generations-long violent economic attack on those millions of U.S. citizens epitomized by the 99 percent's Occupy Wall Street movement.

If left unchecked, this blowback will likely result in the bankers' demise, thus staunching the flow of bribes - including legal insider-trading deals - from the banking industry to entrenched U.S. politicians.

* * *

There is hope, though - sort of. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill when it reaches his desk.

But get this: the president isn't objecting to the bill's obvious undermining of the Constitution. He's fine with that.

Rather, Obama is objecting to S1867 because parts of its use require reference to the federal courts, and he believes that the White House alone should be able to wield these particular tyrannical powers. He is also concerned that the legislative discussion generated by the codification of tyrannical powers he has already assumed informally will threaten his summary claim to those powers.

Obama's desire to claim the massive unilateral power available in S1867 is consistent with his belief that he also has the power to unilaterally wage war (on Libya) without congressional approval and to assassinate Americans as he pleases, both of which he has done.

It's easy to get carried away with the thought that the big, bad government is out to get us.

Indeed, everyone knows that it's a form of clinical insanity to even question the government's actions and/or the government's explanations for taking those actions.

So, instead of berating the government, I'll ask a question:

Do you think that the passage into law of S1867 is consistent with the highest aspirations of the United States of America?

And, if you don't, do you care enough to use the democratic process to do anything about it?

But if you do plan on doing something, you'd better hurry up.

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