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President Trump vetoes massive defense bill, calling the legislation a ‘gift to China and Russia’

President Donald Trump vetoed the $740 billion 2021 National Defense Authorization Act on Wednesday, calling the legislation a “gift” to China and Russia.

The bill passed overwhelmingly in the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-led Senate earlier this month, and both chambers are expected to hold override votes on the measure next week.

What are the details?

In a statement announcing the move, Trump said that while his administration “recognizes the importance of the Act to our national security,” it “fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions.”

He called the NDAA in its current form “a ‘gift’ to China and Russia,” before adding, “No one has worked harder, or approved more money for the military, than I have — over $2 trillion. During my 4 years, with the support of many others, we have almost entirely rebuilt the United States military, which was totally depleted when I took office.”

The president went on to criticize Congress for refusing to include a provision in the NDAA that would repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law that The Hill noted “provides a legal shield to tech companies like Twitter and Facebook.”

Trump had threatened to veto the NDAA a number of times including last week, when he tweeted, “I will Veto the Defense Bill, which will make China very unhappy. They love it. Must have Section 230 termination, protect our National Monuments and allow for removal of military from far away, and very unappreciative, lands. Thank you!”

The president has also spoken out against renaming military bases named after Confederates, which was included in the legislation.

The House passed the NDAA overwhelmingly on Dec. 8 with a vote tally of 335-78-1, and the Senate also passed it with a veto-proof majority of 84-13.

According to CSPAN, the “House will hold its veto override vote Monday [and] if it’s successful, [the] Senate will attempt to hold their vote Tuesday.” The Washington Post reported that if successful, it would be the first veto override of Trump’s presidency.

The outlet further explained:

Congress has until Jan. 3 at 11:59 a.m. — a Sunday — to override the veto and force the defense bill to become law. If they do nothing, it will expire along with the end of the two-year congressional session at noon that day.

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CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars militarism NDAA War

Congress Again Proves that the Business of Washington is War

Libertarian educator Tom Woods famously quipped that “no matter who you vote for you end up with John McCain.” Unfortunately Woods was proven right for about the thousandth time this past week, as Washington again showed us that it is all about war.

First, we learned that if Joe Biden ends up in the White House next month he intends to put a deep state member of the military-industrial complex in charge of the Pentagon. General Lloyd Austin will be only the second Defense Secretary in decades to require a special Senate waiver to serve in that position. Gen. James Mattis under President Trump also needed a waiver, as he had been out of the military less than the required seven years before becoming Defense Secretary.

But the revolving door between active military service and civilian leadership of the Pentagon is perhaps less troubling than the revolving door between the military-industrial complex and leadership of the Defense Department.

As the first African-American to take charge of the Pentagon, the Austin pick is celebrated as a great victory for “diversity.” However, if we move beyond the color of a person’s skin, Biden’s selection is not all that diverse. Gen. Austin was head of the US Central Command under an Obama Administration that launched a brutal war on Libya under false pretenses and pursued a regime-change policy in Syria that involved arming and training jihadists. Upon retirement, as is all too common with military leaders, he cashed in on his service with a position on the board of military contractor Raytheon.

Austin will be “business as usual” for Washington’s warmongers and the military contractors who make a fortune inventing endless conflicts overseas.

Then things went from bad to worse, as the yearly monstrosity called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed with an amendment severely restricting the US president’s ability to remove troops from Afghanistan and Europe. Offered by neoconservative Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of the warmongering Dick Cheney, the amendment all but guarantees that America’s longest war in history will continue pointlessly onward.

A coalition of warmongering Democrats and Republicans have been furious with President Trump for his last minute effort to draw troops down from Afghanistan and elsewhere, and they appear to have a veto-proof majority to tie the president’s hands.

Congress has for decades believed that the president can go to war whenever or wherever he pleases without a declaration, but if the president dares attempt to end a war their belief in a “unitary executive” is thrown out the window. What hypocrisy.

The Constitution is clear that the president is the commander in chief of the military and as such should have the authority to move troops as he sees fit. The Founders understood that 535 Members of Congress trying to micromanage troops on the battlefield is not a good idea.

Congress has it backward. It should be very difficult for a president to take the country to war and easy for that war to be ended.

Time after time, the “peace” candidate usually wins the election. But no matter how sick the American people are of endless war, the war machine finds a way to keep chugging along. What will it take to return to a policy of peace and prosperity?

Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

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Tulsi Gabbard backs Trump veto threat on defense bill over Section 230’s Big Tech protections

President Donald Trump on Wednesday gained unexpected support from a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate after he criticized Section 230’s protections for Big Tech companies.

Trump on Tuesday threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill to authorize defense spending, demanding that Congress first reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The law protects web publishers from being sued for content posted on their platforms by third parties.

“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to ‘Big Tech’ (the only companies in America that have it — corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,” Trump tweeted.

“Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!”

Retiring Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), a frequent critic of the president, expressed her full support for Trump’s veto threat.

“Please don’t back down. The freedom and future of our country is at stake,” Gabbard tweeted.

The rest of Congress, for the most part, is intent on brushing aside Trump’s veto threat.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that while he agrees with the president on the need to reform Section 230, it “has nothing to do with the military” or appropriations for the armed forces.

“You can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill,” Inhofe said, according to Politico.

“I would hope that he would not actually follow through with that because the NDAA is critical,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said of Trump’s veto threat.

“At this last minute, this sudden threat on an item that’s not even part of a defense bill. … I don’t think we could do it in a thoughtful, logical way at all,” said Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee.

He suggested the president’s veto threat “seems to be more out of spite than anything else.”

Politico reported that the House of Representatives will soon advance a compromise defense bill that resolves differences between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA, known as a conference report. The conference report leaves Section 230 unaltered.

President Trump does have some Republican support for vetoing the NDAA. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) will not support the bill because of legislative language about U.S. military bases named for Confederate soldiers. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he supports Trump “using all the leverage he can” to reform Section 230.

But Republican leadership remains opposed to tying Big Tech legislation to defense spending.

“I don’t think the defense bill is the place to litigate that,” said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican. “There will be enormous support for getting the defense authorization bill passed and hopefully signed into law.”

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Tulsi Gabbard backs Trump veto threat on defense bill over Section 230’s Big Tech protections

President Donald Trump on Wednesday gained unexpected support from a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate after he criticized Section 230’s protections for Big Tech companies.

Trump on Tuesday threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill to authorize defense spending, demanding that Congress first reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The law protects web publishers from being sued for content posted on their platforms by third parties.

“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to ‘Big Tech’ (the only companies in America that have it — corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,” Trump tweeted.

“Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!”

Retiring Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), a frequent critic of the president, expressed her full support for Trump’s veto threat.

“Please don’t back down. The freedom and future of our country is at stake,” Gabbard tweeted.

The rest of Congress, for the most part, is intent on brushing aside Trump’s veto threat.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that while he agrees with the president on the need to reform Section 230, it “has nothing to do with the military” or appropriations for the armed forces.

“You can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill,” Inhofe said, according to Politico.

“I would hope that he would not actually follow through with that because the NDAA is critical,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said of Trump’s veto threat.

“At this last minute, this sudden threat on an item that’s not even part of a defense bill. … I don’t think we could do it in a thoughtful, logical way at all,” said Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee.

He suggested the president’s veto threat “seems to be more out of spite than anything else.”

Politico reported that the House of Representatives will soon advance a compromise defense bill that resolves differences between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA, known as a conference report. The conference report leaves Section 230 unaltered.

President Trump does have some Republican support for vetoing the NDAA. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) will not support the bill because of legislative language about U.S. military bases named for Confederate soldiers. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he supports Trump “using all the leverage he can” to reform Section 230.

But Republican leadership remains opposed to tying Big Tech legislation to defense spending.

“I don’t think the defense bill is the place to litigate that,” said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican. “There will be enormous support for getting the defense authorization bill passed and hopefully signed into law.”

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America’s Revolutionary Founders Would Be Anti-Government Extremists Today

Had the Declaration of Independence been written today, it would have rendered its signers extremists or terrorists, resulting in them being placed on a government watch list, targeted for surveillance of their activities and correspondence, and potentially arrested, held indefinitely, stripped of their rights and labeled enemy combatants.

This is no longer the stuff of speculation and warning.

In fact, Attorney General William Barr recently announced plans to target, track and surveil “anti-government extremists” and preemptively nip in the bud any “threats” to  public safety and the rule of law.

It doesn’t matter that the stated purpose of Barr’s anti-government extremist task force is to investigate dissidents on the far right (the “boogaloo” movement) and far left (antifa, a loosely organized anti-fascist group) who have been accused of instigating violence and disrupting peaceful protests.

Boogaloo and Antifa have given the government the perfect excuse for declaring war (with all that entails: surveillance, threat assessments, pre-crime, etc.) against so-called anti-government extremists.

Without a doubt, America’s revolutionary founders would have been at the top of Barr’s list.

After all, the people who fomented the American Revolution spoke out at rallies, distributed critical pamphlets, wrote scathing editorials and took to the streets in protest. They were rebelling against a government they saw as being excessive in its taxation and spending. For their efforts, they were demonized and painted as an angry mob, extremists akin to terrorists, by the ruler of the day, King George III.

Of course, it doesn’t take much to be considered an anti-government extremist (a.k.a. domestic terrorist) today.

If you believe in and exercise your rights under the Constitution (namely, your right to speak freely, worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals who share your political views, criticize the government, own a weapon, demand a warrant before being questioned or searched by the police, or any other activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), you’re at the top of the government’s terrorism watch list.

Indeed, under Barr’s new task force, I and every other individual today who dares to speak truth to power could also be targeted for surveillance, because what we’re really dealing with is a government that wants to suppress dangerous words—words about its warring empire, words about its land grabs, words about its militarized police, words about its killing, its poisoning and its corruption—in order to keep its lies going.

This is how the government plans to snuff out any attempts by “we the people” to stand up to its tyranny: under the pretext of rooting out violent extremists, the government’s anti-extremism program will, in many cases, be utilized to render otherwise lawful, nonviolent activities as potentially extremist.

The danger is real.

Keep in mind that the government agencies involved in ferreting out American “extremists” will carry out their objectives—to identify and deter potential extremists—in concert with fusion centers, data collection agencies, behavioral scientists, corporations, social media, and community organizers and by relying on cutting-edge technology for surveillance, facial recognition, predictive policing, biometrics, and behavioral epigenetics (in which life experiences alter one’s genetic makeup).

This is pre-crime on an ideological scale and it’s been a long time coming.

For example, in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released two reports, one on “Rightwing Extremism,” which broadly defines rightwing extremists as individuals and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely,” and one on “Leftwing Extremism,” which labeled environmental and animal rights activist groups as extremists

Incredibly, both reports use the words terrorist and extremist interchangeably

That same year, the DHS launched Operation Vigilant Eagle, which calls for surveillance of military veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and other far-flung places, characterizing them as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.

These reports indicate that for the government, anyone seen as opposing the government—whether they’re Left, Right or somewhere in between—can be labeled an extremist.

Fast forward a few years, and you have the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which Congress has continually re-upped, that allows the military to take you out of your home, lock you up with no access to friends, family or the courts if you’re seen as an extremist.

Now connect the dots, from the 2009 Extremism reports to the NDAA, the National Security Agency’s far-reaching surveillance networks, and fusion centers that collect and share surveillance data between local, state and federal police agencies

Add in tens of thousands of armed, surveillance drones that are beginning to blanket American skies, facial recognition technology that will identify and track you wherever you go and whatever you do. And then to complete the circle, toss in the real-time crime centers being deployed in cities across the country, which will be attempting to “predict” crimes and identify criminals before they happen based on widespread surveillance, complex mathematical algorithms and prognostication programs.

Hopefully you’re getting the picture, which is how easy it is for the government to identify, label and target individuals as “extremist.”

And just like that, we’ve come full circle.

Imagine living in a country where armed soldiers crash through doors to arrest and imprison citizens merely for criticizing government officials. Imagine that in this very same country, you’re watched all the time, and if you look even a little bit suspicious, the police stop and frisk you or pull you over to search you on the off chance you’re doing something illegal.

Keep in mind that if you have a firearm of any kind (or anything that resembled a firearm) while in this country, it may get you arrested and, in some circumstances, shot by police.

If you’re thinking this sounds like America today, you wouldn’t be far wrong.

However, the scenario described above took place more than 200 years ago, when American colonists suffered under Great Britain’s version of an early police state. It was only when the colonists finally got fed up with being silenced, censored, searched, frisked, threatened, and arrested that they finally revolted against the tyrant’s fetters

No document better states their grievances than the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

A document seething with outrage over a government which had betrayed its citizens, the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, by 56 men who laid everything on the line, pledged it all—“our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”—because they believed in a radical idea: that all people are created to be free.

Labeled traitors, these men were charged with treason, a crime punishable by death. For some, their acts of rebellion would cost them their homes and their fortunes. For others, it would be the ultimate price—their lives.

Yet even knowing the heavy price they might have to pay, these men dared to speak up when silence could not be tolerated.

Read the Declaration of Independence again, and ask yourself if the list of complaints tallied by Jefferson don’t bear a startling resemblance to the abuses “we the people” are suffering at the hands of the American police state.

If you find the purple prose used by the Founders hard to decipher, here’s my translation of what the Declaration of Independence would look and sound like if it were written in the modern vernacular:

There comes a time when a populace must stand united and say “enough is enough” to the government’s abuses, even if it means getting rid of the political parties in power. Believing that “we the people” have a natural and divine right to direct our own lives, here are truths about the power of the people and how we arrived at the decision to sever our ties to the government:

All people are created equal. All people possess certain innate rights that no government or agency or individual can take away from them. Among these are the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The government’s job is to protect the people’s innate rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The government’s power comes from the will of the people.

Whenever any government abuses its power, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish that government and replace it with a new government that will respect and protect the rights of the people. It is not wise to get rid of a government for minor transgressions. In fact, as history has shown, people resist change and are inclined to suffer all manner of abuses to which they have become accustomed. However, when the people have been subjected to repeated abuses and power grabs, carried out with the purpose of establishing a tyrannical government, people have a right and duty to do away with that tyrannical Government and to replace it with a new government that will protect and preserve their innate rights for their future wellbeing.

This is exactly the state of affairs we are suffering under right now, which is why it is necessary that we change this imperial system of government. The history of the present Imperial Government is a history of repeated abuses and power grabs, carried out with the intention of establishing absolute Tyranny over the country.

To prove this, consider the following:

The government has, through its own negligence and arrogance, refused to adopt urgent and necessary laws for the good of the people. The government has threatened to hold up critical laws unless the people agree to relinquish their right to be fully represented in the Legislature.

In order to expand its power and bring about compliance with its dictates, the government has made it nearly impossible for the people to make their views and needs heard by their representatives. The government has repeatedly suppressed protests arising in response to its actions.

The government has obstructed justice by refusing to appoint judges who respect the Constitution and has instead made the Courts march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

The government has allowed its agents to harass the people, steal from them, jail them and even execute them. The government has directed militarized government agents—a.k.a., a standing army—to police domestic affairs in peacetime. The government has turned the country into a militarized police state.

The government has conspired to undermine the rule of law and the Constitution in order to expand its own powers.

The government has allowed its militarized police to invade our homes and inflict violence on homeowners. The government has failed to hold its agents accountable for wrongdoing and murder under the guise of “qualified immunity.”

The government has jeopardized our international trade agreements. The government has overtaxed us without our permission.

The government has denied us due process and the right to a fair trial. The government has engaged in extraordinary rendition. The government has continued to expand its military empire in collusion with its corporate partners-in-crime and occupy foreign nations.

The government has eroded fundamental legal protections and destabilized the structure of government. The government has not only declared its federal powers superior to those of the states but has also asserted its sovereign power over the rights of “we the people.”

The government has ceased to protect the people and instead waged domestic war against the people. The government has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, and destroyed the lives of the people.

The government has employed private contractors and mercenaries to carry out acts of death, desolation and tyranny against other nations, totally unworthy of a civilized nation. The government through its political propaganda has pitted its citizens against each other. The government has stirred up civil unrest and laid the groundwork for martial law.

Repeatedly, we have asked the government to cease its abuses. Each time, the government has responded with more abuse.

An Imperial Ruler who acts like a tyrant is not fit to govern a free people.

We have repeatedly sounded the alarm to our fellow citizens about the government’s abuses. We have warned them about the government’s power grabs. We have appealed to their sense of justice. We have reminded them of our common bonds. They have rejected our plea for justice and brotherhood. Thus, our fellow citizens are equally at fault for the injustices being carried out by the government.

Thus, for the reasons mentioned above, we the people of the united States of America declare ourselves free from the chains of an abusive government. Relying on the Creator’s protection, we pledge to stand by this Declaration of Independence with our lives, our fortunes and our honor.

See what I mean? The abuses meted out by an imperial government and endured by the American people have not ended. They have merely evolved.

Two hundred and forty-four years after a group of anti-government extremists declared their independence from tyranny, the American people have once again managed to work their way back under the tyrant’s thumb.

“We the people” are still being robbed blind by a government of thieves. We are still being taken advantage of by a government of scoundrels, idiots and monsters. We are still being locked up by a government of greedy jailers. We are still being spied on by a government of Peeping Toms. We are still being ravaged by a government of ruffians, rapists and killers.

We are still being forced to surrender our freedoms—and those of our children—to a government of extortionists, money launderers and corporate pirates. And we are still being held at gunpoint by a government of soldiers: a standing army in the form of a militarized police.

The bipartisan coup that laid siege to our nation did not happen overnight. It snuck in under our radar, hiding behind the guise of national security, the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on immigration, political correctness, hate crimes and a host of other official-sounding programs aimed at expanding the government’s power at the expense of individual freedoms.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the building blocks for the bleak future we’re just now getting a foretaste of—police shootings of unarmed citizens, profit-driven prisons, weapons of compliance, a wall-to-wall surveillance state, pre-crime programs, a suspect society, school-to-prison pipelines, militarized police, overcriminalization, SWAT team raids, endless wars, etc.—were put in place by government officials we trusted to look out for our best interests and by American citizens who failed to heed James Madison’s warning to “take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.”

For too long now, we have suffered the injustices of a government that has no regard for our rights or our humanity.

We’ve suffered in silence for too long.

Frankly, what this country desperately needs is more anti-government extremists willing to take the government to task for its excesses, abuses and power grabs that fly in the face of every principle for which America’s founders risked their lives.

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Afghanistan CURRENT EVENTS government spending IMPEACHMENT Intelwars NDAA Patriot Act The Opposition

While You Were Obsessing Over Impeachment

Well, they did it!

The House impeachment hearings were little more than political theater — a partisan fistfight with the majority party coming out the “winner.” In the process, it created the illusion of deep division and disagreement. Devoted Democrats and Republicans are both convinced that their team is fighting for their interests against a determined foe on the other side of the aisle.

But while everybody obsessed over the political theater playing out on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, they completely missed the sideshow that could actually impact their lives. Even as Democrats and Republicans engaged in a contentious public spectacle in the media spotlight, they worked in concert behind the scenes to steal your liberty and your wealth.

While you argued over the gory details of impeachment with your friends on Facebook, Congress passed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The nearly 3,500-page bill authorizes $738 billion in defense spending in Fiscal Year 2020. It creates a “Space Force,” so the U.S. can expand its empire into the cosmos. And Congress rejected a provision that would have made it just slightly harder for the president to unilaterally send American troops into combat. In other words, Congress agreed that it would not bother to do its job and declare war before sending the U.S. military to conduct offensive combat operations as required by the Constitution. It will continue to let the president make that call on his own. You know – the president the House just impeached.

Even worse, the current iteration of the NDAA extended provisions written into the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that effectively authorize government kidnapping. The vaguely worded sections purport to authorize the arrest and “indefinite detention” of anybody the president decides might be associated with “terrorism” and subject them to the law of war. In effect, the government can deem you a terrorist and lock you away without due process. Government kidnapping may sound like hyperbole, but that’s exactly what the NDAA authorizes in effect.

Speaking of war, while all eyes were glued to the three-ring circus in D.C., the Washington Post released documents revealing that the U.S. government has been lying to us about the war in Afghanistan for decades.

“A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.”

As one three-star general put it, “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking. If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction .?.?. 2,400 lives lost.”

This seems, maybe, just a tiny bit, significant. But the news barely saw the light of day. It was completely buried under an avalanche of impeachment reporting.

The sad truth is that these papers that have been mostly ignored provide legitimate grounds for impeachment – not just of Donald Trump, but Barack Obama and George W. Bush to boot. But when it comes to war, Congress maintains a bipartisan consensus supporting the endless, unconstitutional foreign interventions and the presidents who run them. And the media is complicit, focusing on the fake wrestling matches on Capitol Hill instead of reporting on real wars

And while we’re on the subject of bipartisan consensus, let me remind you that Congress reauthorized sections of the Patriot Act in the latest stopgap spending bill. This means the federal government will be able to continue to spy on you without a warrant and in complete disregard of the Fourth Amendment. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) predicted it would haeppn.

Today, while everyone is distracted by the impeachment drama, Congress will vote to extend warrantless data collection provisions of the #PatriotAct, by hiding this language on page 25 of the Continuing Resolution (CR) that temporarily funds the government. To sneak this through, Congress will first vote to suspend the rule which otherwise gives us (and the people) 72 hours to consider a bill. The scam here is that Democrats are alleging abuse of Presidential power, while simultaneously reauthorizing warrantless power to spy on citizens that no President should have… in a bill that continues to fund EVERYTHING the President does… and waiving their own rules to do it. I predict Democrats will vote on a party line to suspend the 72 hour rule. But after the rule is suspended, I suspect many Republicans will join most Democrats to pass the CR with the Patriot Act extension embedded in it.

And indeed they did.

And finally, while Congress-critters battled it out on the House floor, behind the scenes, congressional leaders worked with the Trump administration to hammer out a $1.4 trillion spending agreement. According to an Associated Press report, the deal “fills in the details of a bipartisan framework from July that delivered about $100 billion in agency spending increases over the coming two years instead of automatic spending cuts that would have sharply slashed both the Pentagon and domestic agencies.”

So, let’s review. While America was mesmerized by the pro-wrestling event on Capitol Hill, Congress agreed to maintain the government’s “authority” to kidnap you, to keep spying on you without a warrant, to continue unconstitutional wars, and to spend you deeper into debt.

Political theater makes for splashy headlines and heated debates, but it really has very little impact on your life. The political class, including the mainstream media, would prefer you pay attention to the fluff, not to the things that really matter. Perhaps instead of obsessing over impeachment or the latest debate over a Trump tweet, you would be better served to pay attention to what they don’t want you to pay attention to.

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NDAA 2020: Surveillance, Space Force, and Indefinite Detention

By an overwhelming majority, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020.

The bill to fund the Department of Defense is nearly 3,500 pages long and authorizes $738 billion in defense spending in Fiscal Year 2020.

Believe it or not, congressmen were given fewer than 19 hours to read the bill before voting on it. Despite this impossible impediment to achieving even a modicum of understanding of what they’d be voting for, the measure passed 377 to 48.

Before summarizing the content of the legislation, it is appropriate to consider how 377 members of Congress — erstwhile representatives of the people — voted to pass a bill spending just south of $800 billion without knowing whether they were violating their oaths to support the Constitution of the United States. Those are not the honest and virtuous men we rely on to protect us from tyranny.

Now, on to the multi-billion dollar boondoggle masquerading as a defense appropriation.

First, the bill as approved by the House and Senate stripped out a proposed provision that would have required President Donald Trump to seek additional congressional approval before committing U.S. military resources to overseas combat operations.

As passed, the president can act as king, calling out the U.S. armed forces anytime he wants to deploy them, anywhere he wants, for any reason he wants. This is anathema to the Constitution and to the principle of separated powers upon which it was built.

In 1793, James Madison addressed this very point in a letter written to denounce executive attempts to usurp power to wage war. Madison wrote:

Those who are to conduct a war [the executive branch] cannot in the nature of things, be proper or safe judges, whether a war ought to be commenced, continued, or concluded. They are barred from the latter functions by a great principle in free government, analogous to that which separates the sword from the purse, or the power of executing from the power of enacting laws.

Madison is so strident in his insistence that the power to make war not be placed in the presidency that in a letter responding to Alexander Hamilton’s support for presidential power to call out the military, he begins with the bold pronouncement that if any president were to presume the war-making power, “no ramparts in the constitution could defend the public liberty or scarcely the forms of republican government.”

In the modern era, notably, it is typically the president who initiates the commitment of American troops to combat zones, who orders the military might of the United States of America to deploy here or there to fight this or that foreign foe. The Congress is rarely involved in that decision, with the exception of allocating money to the supplying the armed forces with requisite equipment, ammunition, and other necessary supplies.

Comes now the NDAA for 2020 and by a bipartisan vote, Congress seditiously ceded its constitutionally delegated power to declare war to the president.

Wars in Syria, Iran, and who knows where will now be as easy to carry out as they have been for decades.

While many consider this power to part of the president’s prerogative, surely there are some who, in light of the release of the Afghanistan Papers by the Washington Post, are not prepared to let the men and women of the U.S. armed forces be used as political pawns and canon fodder for the foreign policy predilections of presidents and their powerful patrons. In its summary of the report, the Cato Institute explained:

The report reveals that U.S. officials have been engaged in a protracted campaign to mislead the American people. Under three successive presidents — George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump — who all promised to avoid getting sucked into an open-ended nation-building mission, civilian and military leaders, writes the Post’s Craig Whitlock “failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan…, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.”

President Trump and his congressional co-conspirators are not satisfied with sending traditional troops into harm’s way, apparently.

This latest NDAA officially creates (and funds, of course) President Trump’s “Space Force.” Space Force, proposed by President Trump in 2018, is, as reported by military.com, “a 6th independent military service branch to undertake missions and operations in the rapidly evolving space domain.”

Believe it or not, the NDAA 2020 creates an office called “Chief of Space Operations (CSO)” and another one called “Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration.”

That’s right. Not only can the president wage war on Earth, but he can now start wars in space. Let’s hope nobody discovers oil on Mars!

Perhaps the most pernicious provision of the latest NDAA has been included in every annual version of the bill since 2012: indefinite detention.

On December 31, 2011, with the signature of then-President Barack Obama, the writ of habeas corpus — a civil right so fundamental to Anglo-American common law history that it predates the Magna Carta — became voidable upon the command of the president of the United States. The Sixth Amendment right to counsel also became revocable at the will of the occupant of the White House.

Of course, the denial of habeas corpus (or a trial) comes a little late in the process of being indefinitely detained.

Put simply, Americans would not need to worry about being held without charge if the president was not authorized in the same act to deploy the armed forces to round up “suspects” and detain them indefinitely. Being apprised of the laws one is accused of having violated is important, but it’s the detention and the manner of it that must be of more immediate concern to those who are alarmed about the new world order being defined by the NDAA.

One of the most noxious elements of the NDAA is that it places the American military at the disposal of the president for the apprehension, arrest, and detention of those suspected of posing a danger to the homeland (whether inside or outside the borders of the United States and whether the suspect be a citizen or foreigner). The endowment of such a power to the president by the Congress is nothing less than a de facto legislative repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the law forbidding the use of the military in domestic law enforcement.

Finally, 377 of the “people’s representatives” voted to renew the “authorization” for the unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens.

The provisions of past NDAAs establishing domestic surveillance programs were renewed in the 2020 bill without any reforms or effective protections of the rights of Americans protected by the Fourth Amendment.

As for the president, he happily promises to collude with Congress in the legislative repeal of some of the Constitution’s most fundamental protections of liberty, tweeting on December 11: “Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA: Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force! Congress — don’t delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!”

The depth of the Deep State is revealed by the fact that all of the Democrats who supported the NDAA of 2020, which codifies corruption and unconstitutional usurpation that most undoubtedly is an abuse of power, are the same people who have invented abuses of power with which to charge President Trump, their ally in the expansion of the military-industrial complex in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published at The New American Magazine and reposted here with permission from the author.

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