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A Brief History of the Bipartisan Erosion of Civil Liberties


Did you know that YOU can be taken from your home or grabbed off the street, taken to a military base, water boarded, held indefinitely without due process of any kind and it's all perfectly legal?

Photo Credit: Flickr.

The America I'm watching my son grow up in is not the same America left to me by my father. While there are many social and legal differences, not all of them are positive.

Perhaps the most glaring negative change has been the consistent erosion of individual civil liberties and the protections we used to enjoy under a constitutionally restrained federal government.

Many citizens aware of this issue are quick to point to the indefinite detention clause in section 1021 of the NDAA of 2012 signed into law by President Barack Obama on New Year's Eve of 2011 giving himself the power to make American citizens disappear.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: Workers celebrate after U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10 during an East Room event February 12, 2014 at the White House in Washington, DC. President Obama spoke on 'on the importance of raising the federal minimum wage for all workers' at the event. Alex Wong/Getty Images  Was anyone cheering when President Barack Obama signed the NDAA into law? Alex Wong/Getty Images

However, it was not one piece of legislation nor one president that got us here. And it's your author's duty to inform you that not all of these problems began on the Jan. 20, 2009.

Before we go through the legislative highlights, let's take a hard look at what is possible.

YOU can be taken from your home or grabbed off the street. This is done violently by at least three highly trained special forces-type operators or paramilitary contractors. You'll likely never see them coming, but in a whoosh of fluid motion you're lifted off your feet. Darkness falls with a thick black sack over your head and a draw string tightens it around your neck. You feel hard, thick, plastic zip ties dig into your wrist as your hands are wrenched behind your back. Tires screech and you land in the back seat of a blacked out Chevy Tahoe or a nondescript van with government plates.

Six to 18 hours later you arrive at a military base and are water boarded, sensory deprived, and stress positioned at the very least. You are held indefinitely and without due process. Being stripped of due process can include:

  • No formal charges will likely ever be filed against you.
  • No right to call a lawyer, your family, or your pastor.
  • No judge or magistrate will ever see you.
  • No right to remain silent.

And best of all, as the law reads, you are held, "until the end of hostilities."

Welcome to the global war on terror and it's global battle field.

So how did we get here? How did We the People allow this to happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Many argue that it began in earnest with the National Security Act of 1947 and the abuses that were inevitable as it eroded civilian control and established paramilitary forces not accountable to legislature. This was the camel's nose in the tent and these are just the highlights of what would follow:

  • COINTELPRO - the FBI's mechanism to fight communism domestically, but was rife with civil rights abuses sanctioned by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.
  • REX84 - the Reagan White House's readiness exercise to maintain continuity of government during civil disturbances and the expansion of FEMA authority.
  • Telecommunications Act of 1996 - ostensibly made the phone company and the NSA one and the same.
  • The USA PATRIOT Acts - significantly attenuates or eliminates an individual's First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment protections.
  • The Military Commissions Act of 2006 - amongst other assaults upon due process, it essentially eliminates Habeas Corpus - reversing a basic protection free people have enjoyed since the early thirteenth century.
  • The 2008 Amendments to the Espinage Act of 1917 - allows the president to imprison journalists and whistleblowers.
  • FISA Amendments Act of 2008 - paved the way for the NSA to read your emails and text messages as well as listen to your phone calls.
  • NDAA of 2012 - Well, you should know by now what that does.

Please consider for a moment a real world scenario. Around the time of the last election you dial a wrong number on your cell. You hear the greeting, "Salam," in a heavy accent. In the usual fashion you realize your mistake, apologize, and hang up.

Six months later you're watching the Boston bombing coverage and BANG!

This explosion is not on TV, it's in your living room. What happens next is a whirlwind of pain as you go from comfortable on your sofa in the good old USA to Guantanamo Bay, Bondsteel, Bagram or worse. The wrong number was one that Tamerlan Tsarnaev frequently called.

A great American of the last century, and a victim of COINTELPRO himself warned us all less than four years before his death that, "we should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was legal."

Dave welcomes your questions and comments On twitter: @davepeavy Facebook: /i> Email:

Feature Photo: Flickr

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