Serving a Friday Detention…for Nothing: The NDAA

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In 8th grade Biology, I sat near Sara.  She and I were both bubbly and outgoing, but I was the kid with color-coded notecards and a 4.0 and she was the kid who played M.A.S.H. during class and had a D average. So, when project presentations rolled around, during another group’s presentation, Sara coughed and shouted, “MORON” and then straightened up and pretended she was taking notes.  Our teacher looked up at me and said, “Carly, you have a Friday detention.”

“But I–” I said.

Death stare from teacher.  Silent Carly.

I was afraid of confrontation, so that Friday, I was imprisoned in the beige, windowless study hall detention room for doing absolutely nothing.  Sara and I were both blonde and outgoing.  Someone shouted “moron” from our desk cluster, and I fit the profile.

Switching gears now from school detention to life detention (prison), the Senate just passed the NDAA, National Defense Authorization Act, but they took out a very important amendment – an amendment that protected us from indefinite detention.  So without this amendment, critics are saying that the government will have the power to put you in prison without a cause and without a trial.  They won’t need any proof that you killed someone or shouted “moron” during a presentation.  They can just arrest you.

The bill was passed on Friday by a vote – 81 to 14.  Libertarian Senator Rand Paul went off about it, calling the bill “an abomination.”

“We had protection in this bill. We passed an amendment that specifically said if you were an American citizen or here legally in the country, you would get a trial by jury,” Paul said. “It’s been removed because they want the ability to hold American citizens without trial in our country. This is so fundamentally wrong and goes against everything we stand for as a country that it can’t go unnoticed.”

“When you’re accused of a crime in our country you get a trial, you get a trial by a jury of your peers, no matter how heinous your crime is, no matter how awful you are, we give you a trial,” he said. “This bill takes away that right and says that if someone thinks you’re dangerous, we will hold you without a trial. It’s an abomination.”

Opposing Senators ignored Paul’s rant though, saying that Americans would, in fact, have a right to trial by jury, unless they are allied with foreign terrorists.

We’re living in a time when that feeling of safety and well being that we grew up with seems to be disappearing.  Everyone agrees that something must be done, but there’s so much bickering about the how and the what.  Paul’s point is chilling – the thought of our government having that kind of power.  Our constitution was written to protect our freedoms from a corrupt government.  Sometimes I wonder how different high school would have been if students were given a fair trial, before they got in trouble.  Teachers don’t have time for that, but I wouldn’t have gotten that undeserved Friday detention if I had sat in front of a jury of classmates who witnessed Sara coughing the word “Moron.”

Our government’s main job is to protect us – but that doesn’t just mean from terrorists – that means they are to protect our rights and our freedom.  Paul and others in his camp, believe that the NDAA being passed without this amendment prohibiting indefinite detention, will cause us to lose even more of our freedom.

What’s your take?



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