Most of the emails regarding policy I have received recently have been in relation to two bills that recently came before congress.
The first, the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) for 2012 is a budgetary appropriations act which has non-germane language in section 1021 regarding indefinite detention. Although the White House assures us that this section “will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens”, I have to ask why is it being considered at all? Why do we let our guiding principals like habeas corpus, enshrined in Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution only apply within our borders? Regardless of whether the language in section 1021 potentially applies to Americans, and I believe it does, I don’t think we should be suspending habeas corpus in cases of terrorism. Terrorism is not war, it is an international criminal act, and it should be prosecuted and treated by the standards of justice we hold true in the United States. In the case of enemy combatants, declaration and end of war needs to be rigorously defined by congress and prisoners of war should be detained with all concern towards their rights. The quagmire of Guantanamo represents an affront to American justice. Being detained for over a decade without rapid trial inevitably presents problems of human rights and return of the innocent. If we do not practice habeas corpus and rapid trial universally, it is only a matter of time before it is applied to all American citizens through concern of security and outright fear mongering.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) represents another case of congressional ignorance of technology. In spite of opposition from major technology companies such as Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and Twitter, congress continued to carry water for media companies demanding that they should have the ability to shut down any website without proper trial of criminality. Hearings were stacked with proponents in an attempt to squash opposition. To his credit, Utah’s 3rd Congressional District representative, Jason Chaffetz saw through these tactics and opposed the bill. Unfortunately, it has merely been “suspended” for further wrangling in 2012. SOPA was an attempt to limit the openness and freedom of the Internet and I heartily oppose it.
I will be holding a volunteer coordination meeting Saturday, January 14th, from 1pm – 3pm at 780 East South Temple in Salt Lake City. All are welcome to attend.