What were our U.S. senators thinking?
There are not a lot of things about which New Hampshire Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Free Staters agree. But one such cornerstone in the foundation of our identity has to be the sanctity with which we hold our traditional freedoms.Rather obviously, a military-run state is not exactly consistent with Granite State tradition. I believe there’s a little something about preferring to die rather than surrender our freedom. But with virtually no notice, both of New Hampshire’s U.S. senators recently voted in favor of S.1867, which gives this and all future presidents the right to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison, without charge or trial, civilians anywhere in the world, including the U.S.This is clearly a major and historic assault on the constitutional rights of American citizens. But in stating her support, Senator Ayotte put it bluntly: “America is part of the battlefield.”We used to be the land of the free. Does her statement not shock you?Under our traditional rule of law, we are ruled by — laws. But under this bill, our local and state law enforcement is superceded by military rule. So who decides who the enemy is? Me? You? This provision makes our neighborhoods a war zone, subject to the laws of war instead of civil law. Due process becomes but a treasured memory.”I’m very, very concerned about having U.S. citizens sent to Guantanamo Bay for indefinite detention,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., one of the Senate’s most conservative members. And from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.: “Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge.”FBI Director Robert Mueller opposed the bill because it could stop the FBI from investigating individuals who fall under the definitions of suspected terrorists.This is a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.The bill was drafted in secret and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.An amendment from Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., would have deleted the offensive provisions and replaced them with an appropriate review of detention power in the face of any terrorist threat. It tried to put American values back in. But it was defeated.This measure declares the entire world, including our hometowns, as just a part of a battlefield. That is an extreme position that will forever change our country.You think I exaggerate? Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a vocal supporter of the measure, said on the Senate floor, “Section 1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”So there we have it: indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial. And both of our “Live Free Or Die” state’s U.S senators voted in favor.Perhaps they might need to know of our displeasure. As good old Benjamin Franklin put it: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”America yes, military occupation, no.State senator from 1990 to 2004, Burt Cohen hosts a radio show, “The Burt Cohen Show,” which can be heard on WSCA-FM and at TheBurtCohenShow.com.