Habeas corpus much?

Sometimes, even as the editorial writers for the most popular newspaper in Northern Nevada, it’s easy to feel like a voice in the desert talking to scorpions and rattlesnakes. Launching a diatribe at Washington, D.C., is about as effective as demanding that a rock do the tango.

But there are some actions on the part of our federal representatives that are so reprehensible that the very contemplation of them is beyond the ken.

The Senate recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act. According to E.D. Kain, a writer on Forbes.com, it would “open the door for trial-free, indefinite detention of anyone, including American citizens, so long as the government calls them terrorists.” The Forbes piece, understatedly headlined, “The National Defense Authorization Act is the Greatest Threat to Civil Liberties Americans Face,” can be found at http://tinyurl.com/7a6v8tl.

It’s not just Forbes that’s crying foul. Spencer Ackerman at Wired, www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/12/senate-military-detention, goes a little deeper: “So despite the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a right to trial, the Senate bill would let the government lock up any citizen it swears is a terrorist, without the burden of proving its case to an independent judge, and for the lifespan of an amorphous war that conceivably will never end.”

The amorphous war Ackerman refers to is the “war on terror,” which has already been used in the United States in ways that have nothing to do with preventing terrorists from hurting Americans and everything to do with controlling dissent.

This is not some right- or left-wing conspiracy theory. This is nonpartisan fascism with both Democratic Sen. Harry Reid and Republican Sen. Dean Heller voting in favor. Obama has threatened a veto, not because it destroys the very foundations of constitutional liberty in this country, but because it doesn’t go far enough—or low enough—as recounted in an Associated Press story: “The White House already had threatened a veto if the bill isn’t changed, saying it could not accept legislation that ‘challenges or constrains the president’s authorities to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists and protect the nation.’ ”

Civil rights groups have demanded changes, and while the conference committee has worked for reconciliation between the House and Senate versions of the bill, the fundamental flaws are still there.

“The sponsors of the bill monkeyed around with a few minor details, but all of the core dangers remain—the bill authorizes the president to order the military to indefinitely imprison without charge or trial American citizens and others found far from any battlefield, even in the United States itself,” Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “The bill strikes at the very heart of American values. Based on suspicion alone, no place and no person are off-limits to military detention without charge or trial.”

Contact information for the White House to call for a veto of this heinous law can be found at www.whitehouse.gov/contact/write-or-call#call.