Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing entitled, “The Due Process Guarantee Act: Banning Indefinite Detention of Americans,” which shed light on controversial provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA).
That act, signed into law on December 31, 2011, codified some of the most extreme abuses of civil liberties that have been pursued following the initiation of the ‘War on Terror,’ the actions of which, under the current administration, are now engaged under the title, ‘Overseas Contingency Operations.’ The most striking provision of the NDAA affirmed a broad interpretation of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (2001) and stated that the executive has the power to detain anyone “who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities … without trial, until the end of the hostilities authorized by the [AUMF 2001],” which many interpret would permit even the indefinite detention of American citizens.
Although the current executive branch has pledged to not act upon these powers with respect to American citizens – President Obama signed the law with an adjoining statement, declaring, “my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens” – the potential for future administrations to engage in such clearly unconstitutional behavior, or for the Obama Administration to simply change its mind, is a danger that all Americans should be wary of.
Troubled by these possibilities, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced the ‘Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011’ just hours after the final version of the NDAA was approved by the Senate. The bill seeks to amend the United States Code affected by the NDAA, effectively barring the executive from utilizing indefinite detention on American citizens without express approval from Congress to do so.
The hearing today regarded this remedial act; and there were fireworks to say the least.
Senator Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and is the author of the bill, repeatedly called into question the effectiveness of the provisions in question. Alluding to her past experiences on the Intelligence Committee, Feinstein echoed the concerns of leaders of intelligence and domestic crime fighting agencies who have expressed their disagreement with the infringement of the Armed Forces into domestic security concerns.
Senator Patrick Leahy, before passing the gavel to Senator Feinstein to chair the session, spoke more broadly about the practice of indefinite detention in his opening statement, stating, “A regime of indefinite detention degrades the credibility of this great Nation around the globe, particularly when we criticize other governments for engaging in such conduct.”
The most heated portion of the hearing arose when Senator Al Franken objected to the testimony of Steven G. Bradbury, a former Bush Administration appointee invited by Senate Republicans to testify in favor of the indefinite detention provisions. Franken alluded to the ‘enhanced interrogation’ memos (more accurately called torture memos) that Bradbury authored – which were the subject of a Justice Department probe that concluded by seriously questioning the legal work of Bradbury and others - and stated, “it’s very difficult for me, frankly, to rely on your legal opinion today.”
To ensure that future generations of Americans are not subject to indefinite detention without charge or trial, which was deemed unconstitutional by the Hamdi Supreme Court decision in 2004, please contact your local Representative and Senators to express your opposition to the NDAA, and encourage them to co-sponsor legislation to make sure the law reflects our Constitution’s most essential values. ( H.R. 36702 in the House; S. 2003 in the Senate).
Rick Green of WallBuilders today appeared on Truth that Transforms with Carmen Pate and John Rabe where he claimed that the separation of church and state is the “exact opposite” of what the Founders wanted. He went on to claim that the separation of church and state is simply a tool to move the country “towards socialism and communism” and is responsible for increases in out-of-wedlock births and crime. Of course, this should come as no surprise as Green and WallBuilders president David Barton have made careers out of mischaracterizing church-state separation and blaming it for everything from a decline in SAT scores to a rise in sexually transmitted diseases.
Rabe: I think Rick if you ask most Americans today what the Constitution’s position is on the church they’ll throw out that phrase, ‘separation of church and state.’ That mantra is really, deeply embedded now but the picture that most people have is not exactly what the Founders meant by the First Amendment, is it?
Green: It is actually the exact opposite. Founders intended the First Amendment to restrict government, not restrict us, we the citizens it was actually intended to protect our freedom of religion, protect our opportunity to exercise that faith, whether that was in the public square or the private square, now we flip it on its head and we’ve used the First Amendment to actually restrict the individual. If you happen to step into the public square and sometimes even in the private square, government steps in and says ‘we’re not going to let you live out your faith.’ It’s exactly the opposite of what they intended and that only happens when we the people don’t know our history, don’t know where we came from, we don’t read the Constitution anymore, we don’t read the Founding Fathers, but I tell you there’s a lot of people now that are hungry to do that and they hear this phrase ‘separation of church and state’ and instead of just saying ‘oh yeah I guess that’s what the country was founded on’ they say ‘wait, wait, wait, where exactly in the Constitution is that’? People are starting to ask questions and I think that’s when you start turning this thing around.
Pate: They say when a lie is repeated often enough it becomes truth in the minds of the masses, it really causes us to stop and think, what has fueled the perpetuation of this myth?
Green: It’s a desire to get God out of the equation. At the heart of this entire debate, we’re right back to that question of whether as Rabbi [Daniel] Lapin says we’re going to be a Nimrod society or an Abraham society, will the church and God be the center of our culture and our nation or will government be the center? You cannot go towards socialism without moving away from God, you got to get God out of the equation to do that. Throughout history, anyone that has wanted a nation to move towards socialism and communism in that direction, has had to push God out of the equation first. So separation of church and state has been distorted.
Green: When you think about fifty years of this myth of separation of church and state and the impact on our culture it has been huge, it has had a dramatic impact on not only our children and school but you can look at any statistical graph on whether you want to look at crime, out-of-wedlock birth I mean you look at all of it, removing God from the equation from this supposed phrase ‘separation of church and state’ has had a devastating impact on our culture.
Yesterday on Today’s Issues, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and American Family Association head Tim Wildmon hosted New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera to discuss the city’s decision to prohibit church groups from using public school buildings, which was recently overturned by a federal judge. During the interview, Cabrera attacked gay rights advocates for supposedly siding with the city government, to which Perkins replied that “homosexual groups” want “to silence the church. They want the church to go away because they don’t want that moral voice in the community.” Cabrera even claimed that gay rights supporters “want to censor language and speech”:
In another part of the program, Perkins said that while President Obama apologized for the burning of Qurans in Afghanistan his administration “is silent when Christianity is attacked in this country.” Later, Wildmon said that “Islam is not a religion of peace. That is not true.” Wildmon lamented, “President Obama on this issue, you’d at least like him to speak out on the violence committed against Christians around the world, but you don’t hear anything about that.”
However, last May President Obama defended the rights and freedoms of Christians in Egypt in a speech about the political crisis in the Middle East and earlier this week the State Department released a statement condemning Iran for giving him a death sentence because of his refusal to recant his conversion to Christianity. In fact, the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report documents and denounces the persecution of Christians in countries such as Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan.
Gordon Klingenschmitt is asking activists to pay him big money to stop the Senate from confirming Jesse Furman to the Southern District Court of New York. Klingenschmitt is asking for upwards to $159 to send faxes to Senators to stop Furman and two other nominees from “forcing their anti-Jesus, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual views on the American people.” While Klingenschmitt’s attacks are completely over the top, there’s a more obvious sign that Klingenschmitt’s campaign is completely off base: Furman has already been confirmed. Earlier this month the Senate voted 62-34 to approve Furman’s nomination in the face of intense GOP obstructionism.
Activist Judge Jesse Furman once legislated from the bench to change the First Amendment to allow unprecedented erosion to freedom of religion and speech. Furman tried to ban a Christian organization from using public property. The Supreme Court emphatically shot him down, and not even the liberals on the bench supported him. The high court rebuked Furman's idea that "to extend the school day for elementary school children by offering religious worship, instruction and indoctrination on public school grounds would result in an unprecedented erosion of Establishment Clause values that would reverberate well beyond this particular case." Furman banned Christian kids!
Please select here to sign urgent petition, and we will fax all 100 Senators (saving you time!) to OPPOSE and FILIBUSTER three bad judges to stop forcing their anti-Jesus, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual views on the American people.
But the Supreme Court ruled kids are free to assemble for worship, firmly rebuking Furman's anti-Jesus views. Furman had ruled that First Amendment Rights of free speech do not extend to Christians, "because they do not promote cohesion among heterogeneous democratic people." He wrote in his official brief to the Supreme Court that all forms of traditional Christianity are intolerant because they label children as either unsaved or unsaved.
Self-proclaimed “ex-terrorist” Kamal Saleem tells quite a story about his life, claiming that he worked for late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Hamas, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and fought with Al Qaeda in Tora Bora, all before coming to the United States in order to carry out the “culture jihad.” Sure his entire story is a fabrication, but that hasn’t stopped this descendent of the imaginary “Grand Wazir of Islam” from getting speaking gigs across the country where he criticizes Islam and warns of impending Sharia law in the United States.
Yesterday, Saleem sat down again with fellow anti-Muslim activists Jerry Boykin and Rick Joyner on Prophetic Perspectives where he warned that as part of the effort of Muslim-Americans to usher in an Islamic theocracy, they are replacing the words “In God We Trust” on the dollar with “In Allah We Trust”:
After failing in his campaign to overturn marriage equality in Washington D.C., Bishop Harry Jackson is now leading an effort to repeal a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Maryland that will be signed into law tomorrow. We last saw Jackson raising money for the Maryland Marriage Alliance at “A Gathering of Eagles,” where he led the congregation in spiritual warfare against the demonic Queen of Heaven, who he said was responsible for gay rights and “perversion.”
In an interview with the Christian Post yesterday, Jackson baselessly claimed that Washington D.C. public schools are teaching “children – young children – to explore and examine the differences in heterosexuality, homosexuality and transgender lifestyles,” lamenting, “To say that it's okay for Heather to have two mommies is not biblical.” He also said that activists trying to repeal marriage equality are “not trying to impose our views on others” but said gay rights advocates “are trying to impose their agenda on us.”
“It is an oxy-moron,” Jackson said about same-sex marriage, “Two people of the same sex who marry and try to indoctrinate children into that lifestyle does nothing to strengthen marriage or families.” He also predicted victory in a potential referendum on marriage equality, maintaining that marriage equality supporters “are overplaying their hands and only harming our culture.”
CP: I want to start out by asking in light of Maryland's recent debate and upcoming legalization of same-sex marriage, tell me why you are willing to take such a pronounced and visible stand to defend marriage?
Jackson: First, we as people of faith are not trying to impose our views on others. We are simply using God's Word, given to us by the scriptures, to stand up for what is right. Instead, those who are advocating for what they call "marriage" that does not involve a man and a woman, are trying to impose their agenda on us.
The reality is, if you change the definition of marriage, you change the definition of the family, then you change what is taught in schools – that it's okay for Heather to have two mommies – and exploring your "sexual awareness" as a young child is acceptable; and it's not.
CP: Can you expand on how families will be impacted when same-sex marriages are legalized?
Jackson: Yes, let's use Washington, D.C. as an example. It's encouraged in public schools to teach children – young children – to explore and examine the differences in heterosexuality, homosexuality and transgender lifestyles. Now you and I both know that children should not be encouraged to examine these types of issues, especially in public schools. To say that it's okay for Heather to have two mommies is not biblical.
CP: Supporters of same-sex marriage say one of their primary goals is to educate the public that gay marriage does in fact strengthen families. How do you respond to that comment?
Jackson: It is an oxy-moron. Two people of the same sex who marry and try to indoctrinate children into that lifestyle does nothing to strengthen marriage or families. Again, it only attempts to redefine what marriage is and what a family should be. A mother and a father best raise children. There are factors in our society that interrupt that process and that is unfortunate, but gay marriage will not strengthen marriage.
CP: Do you believe the efforts to repeal same-sex marriage in Maryland will be successful?
Jackson: Yes, I do. To use a phrase from Muhammad Ali, "We float like a butterfly, but sting like a bee." But I must say that the opposing side has waged a brilliant public relations campaign. They want the public to believe the debate about gay marriage is only a religious battle, but it's not.
We are 31 for 31 on gay marriage when it's been put before the voters of different states. They are trying to press the issue in different states hoping to advance their cause with the Supreme Court. Still, when people examine what marriage is and should be, they tend to vote overwhelming against gay marriage.
But let me say this to conclude. I feel our opponents have become so aggressive on this issue, that they are overplaying their hands and only harming our culture. Yes, they may win a battle or two here and there but our side will prevail in the long run.
The Senate will reportedly vote this week on the Blunt amendment, an addition to the transportation bill from Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt that would, if it became law, throw the American health care system into chaos.
Blunt’s amendment, part of the right-wing overreaction to President Obama’s mandate that health insurance policies cover contraception, would allow any employer to refuse any employee insurance for any treatment on religious grounds. So not only could any boss refuse his female employees access to birth control, but any employer could refuse coverage for any procedure or medication he or she found morally offensive – including things like blood transfusions, vaccinations, or even treatment from a doctor of the opposite sex.
Not only would the Blunt amendment mean that comprehensive health insurance wouldn’t necessarily provide comprehensive health insurance – it would throw the country’s health care system into chaos, as each employer and each insurer carved out their own sets of rules.
The plan is bad public policy and antithetical to religious freedom, but it will probably get the votes of most Republican senators. In fact, the basic idea behind the plan is something that’s already been embraced by Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
A large majority of Americans think that insurance policies should be required to cover basic reproductive care – including contraception – for women. The Blunt amendment would not only deny that care to women, it would go even further in denying health care to all American workers for any number of reasons totally beyond their control.
This is straight-up extremism: and American voters know that.
UPDATE: The Democratic Policy and Communications Center estimates that the Blunt amendment could put preventative care for 20 million women at risk.
Last week, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell buckled under nationwide pressure and forced his allies in the state’s legislature to revise a bill they had passed mandating forced, medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. That the bill was tweaked to no longer require women to be vaginally penetrated without their consent – a requirement that McDonnell, until he was met with a national outcry, was all set to sign into law -- was an important victory for pro-choice and common-decency activists.
But we need to remember just how far anti-choice politicians are willing to go. Just a few years ago, before the War on Women kicked into full swing, we wouldn’t have known that we’d have to be fighting state-mandated vaginal probes. In fact, just a few years ago, the amended bill passed by the Virginia Senate today would have been seen as extreme in itself.
The bill that the Virginia Senate passed in a 21-19 vote today requires all women seeking an abortion to first undergo a medically unnecessary external ultrasound – unless they can prove they are pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
It’s important to remember just how extreme the bill still is. Virginia Republicans are mandating that doctors perform a medically unnecessary procedure whether or not their patient requests it, unless that patient can produce a police report to prevent it. It creates a situation that’s ethically difficult for doctors and absolutely demeaning for women.
If Gov. McDonnell signs the bill, which he is expected to do, Virginia will join seven other states that currently require pre-abortion ultrasounds.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid minced no words yesterday discussing the Senate GOP’s seeming indifference to Latino voters:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on Monday that GOP prejudice against Latinos is coloring everything from the immigration stance its presidential contenders are taking on the campaign trail to Senate Republicans filibustering an ambassadorship.
“Let’s talk about some of the things happening to Hispanics in the Senate,” Reid said during a call with reporters, citing past GOP filibusters of immigration-reform bills and the nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte as ambassador to El Salvador.
“What is going on here answers whether there is some prejudice here,” Reid added, referencing a prior question on whether racism played a role in what Reid and other Democrats depict as extreme anti-immigrant positions taken by GOP front-runner Mitt Romney and other GOP presidential hopefuls.
Reid said that Republican candidates are “catering to the tea party” and competing for favor from extremists in their party with their immigration stances.
It’s not just immigration policy and the Aponte nomination. Republicans in the Senate have also been filibustering Hispanic judicial nominees at an alarming rate. This practice gained national attention when Democrats were forced to break a filibuster of the nomination of Judge Adalberto Jordan to sit on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Jordan was to become the first Cuban-American to sit on the circuit that covers Florida, and had the support of Cuban-American GOP senator Marco Rubio, yet was filibustered for four months. The pointlessness of the extended filibuster was made even clearer when the Senate ultimately confirmed Jordan in an overwhelming, bipartisan vote. Writing about the Jordan filibuster, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank asked, “Does the GOP care about Latino voters?”
Senate Republicans are now stalling votes on two Hispanic nominees to the federal courts. They were both approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee, and no Republican has publicly expressed any reason to question their fitness for the bench.
President Obama has made a concerted effort to bring diversity to the federal bench – 36 percent of his nominees have been people of color and 45 percent have been women. The president, in prioritizing bringing diversity to the federal courts, has made a strong statement. The statement that the Senate GOP is making in obstructing those nominees is equally strong.
Televangelist Pat Robertson on the 700 Club today slammed the Obama administration’s plan to scale back Defense Department spending as a ploy to “diminish us,” even though commentators believe the department avoided deep cuts and note that significant savings resulted from withdrawing troops from Iraq. Robertson maintained that the President “is suspect” because “he has made clear that his role in life is to diminish the power of the United States, he really just wants to diminish us.” He claimed that Obama “has an agenda” that is not “in keeping with the long rage goals of the United States of America.”
I don’t trust the motives of the President because he has made clear that his role in life is to diminish the power of the United States, he really just wants to diminish us, he wants to cut our nuclear arsenal dramatically, he wants to cut this, that and the other. If we had trusted his motives we’d say, “OK well maybe we can talk about it,” but I think I and many other Americans distrust him because he’s made clear in some of his writings and other things that he thinks the imperialist nations need to be restrained, need to be downgraded, that the great imperialist powers should no longer be allowed to roam freely on the globe. Furthermore, he does not believe in American exceptionalism. So we’ve got a President who is suspect. So when he comes out with these massive cuts, you say, ‘are you really doing something to the budget or are you really trying to just diminish us’?
That’s the problem we are dealing with here ladies and gentlemen is that we’ve got a man in charge of this country who has an agenda, and we question is that agenda in keeping with the long range goals of the United States of America? And I question it.
Last month the British newspaper the Telegraph ran a story alleging that First Lady Michelle Obama spent $50,000 at a Madison Avenue lingerie shop with the Queen of Qatar, a claim which was laughable on its face and of course proven to be categorically untrue. In fact, the Telegraph later pulled the article from its website.
Almost one month later, even after the story was debunked, WorldNetDaily columnist Mychal Massie of the conservative the National Center for Public Policy Research's Project 21, is regurgitating the very same story as if it was a fact. Massie writes that Obama’s vacations, appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and “personal $50,000 underwear spending spree” so she can have the “experience of picking out all those exotic undies,” shows her “disgusting elitism”:
What on earth can Michelle Obama possibly be tired from? What has she done since her husband was elected that gives her one reason to be tired? I know that flying, for the proletariat such as myself, can be tiring and, more times than not, a genuine pain – but she flies in presidential luxury, sans the president. And the only checkin’ in and full-body scan she goes through at an airport is when she looks at herself in a mirror.
Then again, maybe she was exhausted from her personal $50,000 underwear shopping spree with the queen of Qatar, at Agent Provocateur, the store that bills itself as selling “the most erotic lingerie in the world.” Realizing that you’re responsible for closing down Madison Avenue can be tiring, and watching staff carry all those bags back to her limousines … whew! – that would sure wear me out. And after the tiring experience of picking out all of those exotic undies, what better place to recover than an uber-posh Vail resort and the private home owned by Paula and Jim Crown?
Or maybe she’s worn out from rolling around on the floor to the delight of Ellen Degeneres, or making muscles on a daytime show, or pulling on a rope on another show, or eating at all of the restaurants where she loves to pig it up.
Then again, maybe Ms. Obama is just an arrogant, high-minded person who doesn’t give a rat’s tail about propriety or how her behavior looks to a suffering public because, after all, her husband claims the economy is improving, and who are we going to believe – the reality of our financial situation or her husband?
Michelle Obama can afford to live life large since every dime she’s spending comes on the backs and sweat of others. Nothing, zip, nada that she spends did she personally earn. And therein is the disgusting elitism of a woman who forgets where she came from, and dares you to remind her.
After failing to convince JC Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson because she is openly gay, now the American Family Association’s group OneMillionMoms is putting Toys R Us in its crosshairs for selling an Archie comic book that features a same-sex marriage. The group demands that Toys R Us “remove all the same-sex ‘Just Married – Archie’ comic books immediately from your shelves” before children are “exposed to same-sex marriage.” The OneMillionMoms sample letter to the company ends with the line, “My decision to shop in your stores depends on it”:
Select Toys 'R' Us stores are now selling 'Archie' comic books with a same-sex wedding displayed on the front cover. The front cover reads "Just Married" with two men marrying and one is wearing a service uniform. This comic book is being sold in select stores across the country. One example is the Queensbury, NY location in the upstate New York area.
As a mother and a member of OneMillionMoms.com, I am extremely disappointed to learn that select Toys 'R' Us stores are now selling 'Archie' comic books with a same-sex wedding displayed on the front cover. I am referring to the ones where the front cover reads "Just Married" with two men marrying, one wearing a service uniform.
I am aware that Toys 'R' Us employees do not actually set up the displays; they leave this up to the vendor. Your company should be aware of the merchandise being sold in your stores nonetheless. These comic books are displayed at the front checkout counters so they are highly visible to employees, managers, customers and children.
Unfortunately, children are now being exposed to same-sex marriage in your toy store. This is the last place a parent would expect to be confronted with questions from their children on topics that are too complicated for them to understand. Issues of this nature are being introduced too early and too soon, which is becoming extremely common and unnecessary.
A trip to the toy store turns into a premature discussion on sexual orientation and is completely uncalled for. Toys 'R' Us should be more responsible in the products they carry.
Please remove all the same-sex "Just Married - Archie" comic books immediately from your shelves. My decision to shop in your stores depends on it.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding my concern.
Sunday on Breakpoint, Chuck Colson hosted fellow Manhattan Declaration co-founders Timothy George and Robert George to discuss the mandate for contraception coverage and the need for “disobedience” to resist the policy. During the interview, Timothy George repeated his claim that the Obama administration is turning the United States into Nazi Germany, comparing the Manhattan Declaration to the Barmen Declaration of German Christians who opposed the Nazi Party and telling Colson that “there are many parallels” today with Nazi Germany. Later in the interview, Colson maintained that while “we’re not going through the horrors the Nazis did,” the “issue is the same” as the German resistors.
George: The Barmen Declaration was a document that came of May of 1934, it was issued by a group of Protestant Christians in Germany just at the beginning of the Third Reich in which they drew a line in the sand and they said to everyone who would listen that Jesus Christ as he is attest in the Holy Scripture is the one Word of God whom we are to hear, whom we are to trust and whom we are to obey in life and in death. It was a way of saying we will not go along with the usurpation of human rights and Christian commitment that Hitler was calling for at that time, and so we felt that something like that needed to be said in our own time. There are many parallels, it’s not exactly analogous, but we want to call people to the kind of faithfulness and fidelity demonstrated in 1934 in that very important and precious document.
Colson: I think, led by the Holy Spirit, these two extraordinary scholars with me and I were simply led along to do this and I think it is a document for our times, there is not an analogy with the Barmen Declaration because we’re not going through the horrors the Nazis did, but the issue is the same.