So about that "no more Bill of Rights" bill…

In case you’re wondering, the reason it took me so damn long to get into S 1867 is that before I’m willing to join the alarmist sabre-rattling, I insisted on actually reading the gaw damn bill. So I fired up the Library of Congress and tried sifting through the 687 pages of the thing to see what all the fuss is about. To put it mildly, this is a dense, difficult read, and finding anything pertinent was difficult.

To start things off, again, the bill is nearly 700 pages, and we all know how the Senate is about reading things fully. Secondly, the vast majority of this is an appropriations bill, talking about budgetary matters and the allocation of funds. So when people start yammering about how these and those Democrats voted for it, and how it passed 97-3, there’s a good chance that they were simply not aware of this earth-shattering matter. Follow the Razor, folks.

Now then, the pertinent part of the bill, insofar as I can tell, is Title X Subtitle D, “Detainee Matters”, and its seven sections. In there, it discusses the rules about detaining terrorist suspects on American soil. I read through that section a few times, looking up everything in the bill relating to detainees, and in there I found the following bits:

(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.

(2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.

(e) Authorities- Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.

Among others. Unless there’s something in this bill I have yet to find, I don’t know why this has suddenly been turned into the bill that decimated the Bill of Rights. The slight ambiguity of “requirement” as opposed to “authority” may be the difference here, but the reason for that is that the bill now states that foreign combatants must be held as per this bill’s wording, and that this does not apply to American citizens or lawful aliens. There is nothing in here, anywhere, that expands the power of the military to declare American citizens “enemy combatants” and throw them into the gulags.

Is the bill worded optimally? Maybe not, but thus far, in none of the articles about this thing where they sound the sirens do they point out specific sections and refer to the text of the bill. Rather, the echo chamber has caused everyone to go berzerk based on a few contortions of language.

Besides, Bradley Manning was held without trial for how long, now? Not only didn’t this bill change anything, but it’s not like we were doing so well without it.


One response to “So about that "no more Bill of Rights" bill…

  1. Thanks for posting this. Those clauses seemed enough reassurance to me as I read and re-read those sections of the bill but since I have no legal training I couldn’t be sure. I’m glad to find one person on the internet who can write down rational ideas.

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