The Pentagon spending bill that Congress approved this month represents an abomination against democracy, says Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, Politico
The remarks, which came in a weekly phone message to his supporters, represent another verbal assault by the Texas congressman against what he sees as government overreach, but what other politicians on both sides of the aisle see as necessary national defense.
The National Defense Authorization Act includes almost $670 billion to pay for military budgets and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The more Paul rails against the Pentagon, the less likely it becomes that he will win the Republican nomination. That would be a long shot, regardless of his defense policy views, though Paul has polled very well in Iowa.
As for his comments, “The founders wanted to set a high bar for the government to overcome in order to deprive an individual of life or liberty,” Paul said.
“To lower that bar is to endanger everyone. When the bar is low enough to include political enemies, our descent into totalitarianism is virtually assured. The Patriot Act, as bad as its violations against the Fourth Amendment was, was just one step down the slippery slope. The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act continues that slip into tyranny, and in fact, accelerates it significantly.”
One element of the defense act that particularly riles Paul provides for the detention of terrorism suspects and reaffirms the administration’s authority to detain those suspected of having connections to terrorist groups.
“The Fifth Amendment is about much more than the right to remain silent in the face of government questioning,” Paul said.
“It contains very basic and very critical stipulations about the due process of law. The government cannot imprison a person for no reason and with no evidence presented and without access to legal counsel. The danger of the NDAA is its alarmingly vague, undefined criteria for who can be indefinitely detained by the U.S. government without trial.”
Paul says the bill not only allows our government to imprison members of al-Qaida and the Taliban, but anyone accused of supporting or being associated with groups like them.
“How closely associated, and what constitutes substantial support?” he said. “What if it was discovered that someone who committed a terrorist act was once involved with a charity? Or suppose a political candidate? Are all donors of that candidate or supporters of that candidate now suspects and subject to indefinite detainment? Is that charity now an associated force?”
Declaring war on the war against terrorism probably isn’t such a shrewd political idea on Paul’s part either. Both Republicans and reasonable-minded Democrats, including the Obama administration, support the same vigilance against terrorism that Paul criticizes.
But the Texas congressman is sticking to his guns — or lack of guns in this case. He sees it as a case of presidential authority run amok.
“The president’s widely expanded view of his own authority to detain Americans indefinitely even on American soil is for the first time in this legislation codified in law,” Paul said.
“That should chill all of us to our cores. The Bill of Rights has no exceptions for really bad people or terrorists or even non-citizens. It is a key check on government power against any person. That is not a weakness in our legal system, it is the very strength of our legal system. The NDAA attempts to justify abridging the Bill of Rights on the theory that rights are suspended in a time of war, and the entire United States is a battlefield in the war on terror. This is a very dangerous development, indeed. Beware.”
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