Friday, March 7, 2014

National Defense Authorization Act: What Would Benjamin Franklin Do?

From Rich Aucoin:

For those interested, below is the text of the speech I delivered before the Franklin Town Council last night.

What Would Benjamin Franklin Do?
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is routine legislation passed annually to finance US military operations overseas.

But new language was quietly added to the NDAA in 2012 which authorizes Guantanamo Bay-style indefinite detentions on US soil.

The new language is dangerously vague and strongly implies that America is now a "battlefield" in the war on terror and that anyone, including US citizens, can now be denied constitutional protections and be subjected to the laws of war: kidnapped in the middle of the night on accusation alone, hooded, shackled and locked away possibly for life with no right to counsel, no right to face her accuser, no right to a jury of his peers.

So dangerous is this new language that President Obama issued a signing statement promising that his administration would never indefinitely detain Americans under the laws of war but warned that future presidents could do so unless the new language is fixed.

Benjamin Franklin's famous quote comes to mind: "They who sacrifice essential liberty to gain temporary safety shall have neither."

Franklin and the Founders took great pains to guarantee the Rights of due process and trial by jury. They carefully enumerated these Rights in both our state and federal Constitutions to ensure they could never be nullified.

To ensure these Rights would live on forever, the Founders devised a system of checks and balances, a constitutional structure of human "pillars" to uphold the rule of law. All elected office holders, including local councilors like yourselves, were to swear an oath to protect and defend constitutional governance. If at any time state or federal officials failed in their pillar duty, then the local pillars would be a last line of defense, standing by ready to take up the load and save the structure from collapsing. Each of you is a pillar in this system. Each of you bears the duty to stand up when other office holders stand down. Some local officials in other towns have claimed they do not have the authority to uphold constitutional government. But if so, why did they swear to uphold something that they did not have the authority to uphold?

The resolution I will be bringing supports constitutional government by reasserting the Right of Due Process for the people of Franklin, as enumerated in Articles 12 and 18 of our state Constitution and Amendments 5 and 14 of the US Constitution.

Congressman Jim McGovern has voiced strong support for this resolution, helping it win passage in towns like Oxford and Webster. Representatives Jeff Roy (D) and Ryan Fattman (R) have also stood up for this resolution.

Everyone watching this meeting knows how Benjamin Franklin would vote if he were here today. I am asking you to vote how Franklin would vote. I am asking you to honor his legacy. I am asking you to defend both liberty AND security. I am asking you to be a pillar for the rule of law to ensure that our children and their children will inherit the same America that we were blessed to inherit. I am asking you to keep your oath.

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