Old Is New Again
by Chris Sullivan: We
I can touch a bell on my right hand and order the arrest of a citizen
of Ohio; I can touch a bell again, and order the imprisonment of
a citizen of New York; and no power on earth, except that of the
President, can release them. Can the Queen of England do so much"?
So saith William
Seward to Lord Lyons, but it could have just as easily been Hillary
Clinton or Eric Holder to some foreign official.
The corps of
sappers in the legislative branch have been busy undermining the
Constitution while the populace has been focused on important things
like Kim Kardashian's divorce or Donald Trump's hair. Two retired
Marine Generals, Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar wrote an Op-Ed
in the December 12, 2011, NY Times opposing the provisions
in the National Defense Authorization Act, saying:
would authorize the military to indefinitely detain without charge
people suspected of involvement with terrorism, including United
States citizens apprehended on American soil. Due process would
be a thing of the past....A second provision would mandate military
custody for most terrorism suspects. It would force on the military
responsibilities it hasn’t sought. This would violate not only the
spirit of the post-Reconstruction act limiting the use of the armed
forces for domestic law enforcement but also our trust with service
members, who enlist believing that they will never be asked to turn
their weapons on fellow Americans."
military men, they know that "service members" aren't going to be
asked to do anything; they are going to be ordered upon pain
of incarceration or death to do as they're told. Many people express
the opinion that Americans would never fire on their countrymen.
Where this idea comes from is a mystery. George Washington led any
army of about 15,000 men to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion. This
is the only time that a sitting American president led troops in
battle, even though only two or three people were killed.
is conclusive evidence that the army will perpetrate barbarous acts
against Americans over a long period. Whether you think the Bonus
Marchers were rabble or deserving veterans, the fact is that the
army attacked and dispersed them when told to do so. For a more
recent – and deadly- example, the Kent State Shootings illustrate
that troops will fire on unarmed civilians. In the Kent State incident,
the person killed who was closest to the Guardsmen was 265 feet
away. This was Jeffrey Miller, the person lying dead in the famous
photograph from the shooting.
beat, club, gas, "taze" or shoot people when told to and they are
not a different species from military personnel. John Marshall chronicled
many of the outrages perpetrated against citizens in his 1869 book
American Bastile. If you are in doubt about how the military
will act, his book is a good place to start your research.
is a legal challenge – as there almost certainly will be – to the
provisions in the NDAA allowing indefinite detention of citizens
by the military, it will become apparent that present-day citizens
owe an eternal debt of gratitude to Colonel Lambdin P. Milligan.
Milligan was imprisoned by the Union for several months and had
been sentenced to death by hanging. He sued demanding a writ of
habeas corpus, his suit reaching the Supreme Court.
tried to get the steel-spined Milligan to withdraw the suit, assuring
him of a pardon if he would drop it. He refused.
Court heard the case and rendered a verdict in 1866. Some of the
relevant parts from a syllabus of the case (here)
commissions organized during the late civil war, in a State not
invaded and not engaged in rebellion, in which the Federal courts
were open, and in the proper and unobstructed exercise of their
judicial functions, had no jurisdiction to try, convict, or sentence
for any criminal offence, a citizen who was neither a resident of
a rebellious State nor a prisoner of war, nor a person in the military
or naval service. And Congress could not invest them with any
8. The guaranty
of trial by jury contained in the Constitution was intended for
a state of war, as well as a state of peace, and is equally binding
upon rulers and people at all times and under all circumstances.
9. The Federal
authority having been unopposed in the State of Indiana, and the
Federal courts open for the trial of offences and the redress of
grievances, the usages of war could not, under the Constitution,
afford any sanction for the trial there of a citizen in civil life
not connected with the military or naval service, by a military
tribunal, for any offence whatever.
course pays even less attention to the Constitution now than it
did then, but it will be interesting to see how this is decided.
Congress not only doesn't have any such authority, but is specifically
forbidden by the 4th, 5th, 6th and probably the 10th Amendments
from delegating this non-existent authority.
When it comes
to enforcing this, it cannot be hoped that many soldiers will refuse
to follow whatever orders they are given. There are a lot more like
Charles Graner than Antonio Taguba or Hugh Thompson.
with permission from Different
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© 2012 Chris Sullivan