The week of December (the 11th to the 17th) has been a paradigm shifting experience for me as a US citizen. I’m a firm believer in having checks and balances in Congress, the judicial branch and the executive. Recently, I have seen nothing of the sort. Instead I have seen the three branches working together to accomplish whatever goals they may have. They usually aren’t in the interest of most Americans.
I want to touch on two issues that may seem separate but are very much tied. I will also attempt (emphasis on attempt) to explain why these legislative actions are important to you and what they mean for the future of America. The legislative actions I will be touching on for now are the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
I touched on the NDAA in a previous post, but this is a bit of an update. As many of you may already know (or at least I hope you do), the NDAA passed with broad support. This is another one of those cases of bipartisan support that doesn’t make sense, especially if you’ve been paying attention to politics since Obama was elected. There are very few things Obama’s supporters and his opponents see eye-to-eye on. Obama has a history of bipartisanship, but the same cannot be said about the Republicans and the Democrats on the Hill. But the legislative and executive branches moved in unison in a rare moment—one moment that will leave liberals and conservatives disoriented.
The NDAA, cited by Politico:
The bill would create a legal basis for the detention of suspected Al Qaeda terrorists and their allies and require military custody for foreign terrorists who attack the United States. It also favors military trials for suspected terrorists, subject to a presidential waiver, and extends for one year the ban on moving detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States.
The precedent this act sets is far-reaching, but the abstention of removing detainees from our international prison and torture facilities, the military trials of suspected terrorists and the legal detention of suspected terrorists without due process is something the United has been doing in full force since 9/11. Nothing surprises me here. Just ask Bradley Manning.
I thought the country might have had some hope when Obama said he would veto the part of the act which gave the president power to detain any American citizen indefinitely. New evidence is manifesting, supporting the notion that Obama’s original stance was to actually push for more executive power and freedom to detain American citizens at home and abroad (see video below for further analysis):
SOPA is perfect for a more surveillanced society. A society where those in power have easier access to keep those with less power in check (read my previous post on the issue here). It seems as though ever since Wikileaks occurred, the government has been cracking down vigorously on cyber attacks, but without having any real technology experts on the congressional hearing panels, I fear that we are leaving the future of Internet freedom in the hands of individuals that don’t understand how the Internet really works.
SOPA’s plan is to “save jobs,” but the only jobs it will be saving are those in Hollywood who are already overpaid and overrepresented. If SOPA passes, we might see criminal charges for posting copyrighted material on social networking sites. FAIR Use and freedom of expression is under threat from SOPA. Our American values are under attack once again.
*I will go further in-depth in a future post, discussing the implications of SOPA and NDAA being passed so close to one another. It’s only fair to assume that they will be used in conjunction with each other to detain suspected Internet terrorists, particularly those who disagree with the ideologies of the companies lobbying hard for SOPA aka Internet regulation. Rupert Murdoch is one of them.