Aaron Dykes
March 20, 2013

The former representative from Florida and Tea Party darling, Allen West, has again expressed startling denial over the erosion of civil liberties he helped establish under the National Defense Authorization Act. His most recent comments, given while talking to crowds at last week’s CPAC conference, are unsettling to say the least.

In the name of taking on jihadists, the rule of law and protection of individual civil liberties has been purposefully degraded, while the stage is set to declare political dissidents as ‘enemy combatants’ equivalent to terrorists, and subject to treatment outside of law, even in cases that fall short of actual conflict.

Allen West has supported strong action against terrorists, while denying the dangerous precedents set-up under the NDAA’s indefinite detention provisions altogether.

After several previous attempts, activist Anthony Antonello confronted Allen West, who claimed the concern about detention was misplaced, denying that the provision existed to grant the military any such authorization:

“The military can’t do that. Have you ever read Posse Comitatus? The military can’t do that. You keep going back to something – I sat on the conference committee. I helped to craft that. The military does not have that ability, and you want to talk about the CIA and FBI. The National Defense Authorization Act has nothing to do with those other agencies. The military cannot do that, so I don’t know why you keep talking about something that’s not there. Every single year there’s an NDAA. Every single year there’s a document that authorizes the missions for the military so that they can get funding. Now obviously you don’t want to see the military authorized, you don’t want to see the military funded. No one in the military – how many people have been detained by the military? How many people have been detained by the military?”

Instead, West wrongfully tried to spin it as an effort to undermine military funding. The real issue is slipping attacks on the Bill of Rights into amendments for an appropriations bill that spans hundreds of pages.

The 2012 NDAA, which first added the indefinite detention clause, was amended for 2013, partly to quell widespread opposition to the bill. However, the 2013 version, which was first purported to correct the issue of stripping rights, instead stripped the protection for American citizens and lawful residents that would guarantee due process. Sen. Rand Paul, who initially supported the 2013 NDAA based upon the Feinstein-Lee amendment, withdrew support after revisions clearly posed a constitutional threat.

“The decision by the NDAA conference committee, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to strip the National Defense Authorization Act of the amendment that protects American citizens against indefinite detention now renders the entire NDAA unconstitutional,” said Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

“I voted against NDAA in 2011 because it did not contain the proper constitutional protections. When my Senate colleagues voted to include those protections in the 2012 NDAA through the Feinstein-Lee Amendment last month, I supported this act,” Sen. Paul continued. “But removing those protections now takes us back to square one and does as much violence to the Constitution as last year’s NDAA. When the government can arrest suspects without a warrant, hold them without trial, deny them access to counsel or admission of bail, we have shorn the Bill of Rights of its sanctity.”

Kurt Nimmo quoted Bruce Afran, who is a lawyer involved in suing the government over the NDAA 2012. According to Afran, the provision in 2013 NDAA does specify military detainment.

“The new statute actually states that persons lawfully in the U.S. can be detained under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force [AUMF]. The original (the statute we are fighting in court) never went that far,” Afran said. “Therefore, under the guise of supposedly adding protection to Americans, the new statute actually expands the AUMF to civilians in the U.S.”

Allen West has spoken frequently in defense of the NDAA, and has vowed to ‘put to rest’ the rumors about the violations of rights it poses. The Tenth Amendment Center has analyzed West’s position on the NDAA, calling his YES vote an act of “treachery.”

NDAA: Allen West sets record straight (denying that indefinite detention applies to American citizens or soil)

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