Totalitarianism: The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Latest Chapter In the Road towards “Police State USA”
by Sherwood Ross
January 11, 2012
“I believe,” warned James Madison in a speech to the Virginia Convention on June 16, 1788, “there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
Surely, this is the story behind the New Year’s Eve, 2011, signing by President Obama of the National Defense Authorization Act(NDAA). While they were merry-making and tootling horns, NDAA stripped Americans of the last vestiges of their liberties. Now that President Obama can order the military to arrest and imprison you indefinitely on suspicion without trial, your First Amendment rights of speech, press, assembly, and petition have no meaning. Who are you going to assemble with from your jail cell?
NDAA is only the most recent chapter in a creeping totalitarian horror story going back decades. President Harry Truman vetoed the Internal Security Act of 1950 that codified indefinite detention without trial but his veto was overturned by Congress. Truman called the Act “the greatest danger to freedom of speech, press, and assembly since the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798, a “mockery of the Bill of Rights” and a “long step toward totalitarianism.”
That Act, a.k.a. the McCarran-Walter Act, was aimed at the Communist Party of the United States and authorized incarceration of those who would “probably engage in espionage or sabotage.” At the time it would have been difficult to think of any example of any known U.S. Communist Party member anywhere engaging in sabotage. By contrast, it was about the same time the CIA was getting off to a jump start at overthrowing foreign governments by force and violence.
Under the Act, prominent individuals considered subversive were barred entry to the United States, limiting the free speech of American citizens. Among them: Argentine novelist Julio Cortazar, Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and British novelist Graham Greene, Wikipedia recalls.
Totalitarianism continued its creep despite the objections of Senator George McGovern of South Dakota in 1970, who vainly blasted the “no knock” ordinance Congress pressed down upon that occupied territory known as the District of Columbia. This law allowed police to bust into any dwelling without a court order. McGovern referred to it as the Big Brother Act, pointing out that “your home is no longer your castle and your liberties are no longer your own.” That was but one small foretaste of today’s police state powers.