“National Defense” bill threatens constitutional rights

Creative Commons Photo by Flickr user roberthuffstutter.

Anaika Miller

Creative Commons Photo by Flickr user roberthuffstutter.

You may have never observed the anniversary of the First Amendment before, but this year, take a moment to remember that our right to freedom of expression is found in those 45 words.

Now, take a look at the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2012. After passing in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, this bill is one step away from becoming a law. 

Though the National Defense Authorization Act has been approved for the past 48 years as a piece of legislation outlining the budget for the United States Department of Defense, a few sections of this year’s bill contain language that grants our military the power to detain anyone suspicious of terrorist activity. These potential suspects, including American citizens, would not receive a trial and could be held indefinitely.

Now, I understand that terrorists are a very real threat in modern times, but are we willing to suspend all notion of “innocent until proven guilty?” Are we willing to give our government the power to imprison people based on undefined, “suspicious” activity?

Many years ago, Benjamin Franklin once said that “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” After 220 years, are we ready to trade our freedom of speech or religion for the promise of “safety?” No, we have not yet sunk low enough as to sit idly by as our freedoms are stripped away by our own government.
 
But, if we want this democracy to continue to serve the people, we cannot allow this bill to become a law. We cannot allow the military to patrol our streets, or allow the president to have the power to snatch people from their homes and imprison them without a trial. Like the millions of Americans that have come before us, we need to fight for our rights. 
 
Obama still has a chance to veto this bill, so please, make sure that your voice is heard before it’s too late. Speak out, assemble, and petition against this bill. If united we stand, we will not fall.

What do you think?