How to Join the Fight against the NDAA

Posted on December 7, 2011 at 5.42 pm

Q. Bonnie, what are your opinions on the NDAA bill that just passed through Congress and how should I, as an average citizen with no political connections, let the government know that I do not support the bill? Thank you so much. — Kacie, from the internet.

A. Thanks for the timely — and important — question, Kacie.

For those who haven’t heard about it already, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a recently passed bill which contains dangerous and unconstitutional provisions.  As Jack Hunter recently wrote [emphasis mine]:

Commenting on the controversial Section 1031 of the National Defense Authorization Act — which many contend gives the federal government new powers to arrest American citizens without charge — [Senator Lindsey] Graham made clear this week that “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

The entire world is now a “battlefield”? “Including the homeland”?

There have been serious constitutional questions raised recently concerning whether our federal government should be able to arrest or assassinate American citizens overseas without charge or trial. This new and largely uncharted legal territory has been troublesome. But arresting or assassinating American citizens here in the United States without trial? Rounding up and holding American citizens indefinitely without charge? What country is this?

If it sounds like Hunter’s exaggerating about the problems with this bill, I can assure you he’s not.  In fact, the requirements under which it will allow the government to indefinitely detain anyone — including American citizens arrested on American soil — without charge or trial are so vague that even a worker for a charitable relief agency could go to jail for accidentally providing food assistance to someone with terrorist ties.  Regardless of whether or not this measure ultimately becomes law, it isn’t constitutional, and it isn’t right.

Now — you want to fight back.  This is good, but the advice I give you (or rather, the advice you elect to take) depends on how much you wish to remain an average citizen with no political connections.

Your simplest option is to spread the word.  Get a blog if you don’t have one already; use your Facebook and other social networks; share articles and have conversations with your family and friends.  The way Google news works, for instance, is that it promotes the stories which are generating the most interest and traffic.  Your browsing habits ultimately contribute to what this very important news source shares.

If you’d like to go a step further, contact your representatives by both email and phone and ask others to do the same.  Click here to see how your senators voted, and click here to find your representatives’ contact information.  Next, collect petition signatures.  This is probably easiest if you are in college or live in a populated area.  If your area’s more rural, though, you could even go to the nearest mall and ask shoppers “for a moment of their time to keep charity workers out of prison,” for instance.  Click here to download a petition template I made for my organization, Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), which you’re welcome to use and modify.  When you’ve collected as many sheets of signatures as you can, take them to your representative’s office — hand delivery is ideal.

But if you really want to stop being an average citizen with no political connections, go a step further.  Petitioning is important and could help us beat this particular bill, but with the same people in office, we’ll have another one just as bad next month.

That’s why the last option is for you to actively work to get the representatives who would vote to put people in jail forever without a trial out of office.  You can best do this by running for office yourself or working/volunteering for a principled campaign.  Not to make this whole post a commercial for YAL, but we have a program to train you and get you plugged into the political process in whatever capacity is comfortable for you.  Learn more here — and with whatever you pick, good luck.


Readers — what other ideas would you suggest for Kacie and anyone else interested in stopping the NDAA from being signed into law?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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