On Wednesday, the Senate passed the mammoth $886 billion 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which funds the Pentagon and military spending in other government agencies. The bill passed in a vote of 87-13, with six Democrats, six Republicans, and one Independent voting against it. This NDAA now heads to the House, where it’s expected to pass in a vote on Thursday as the bill is the version that the two chambers negotiated. The NDAA includes an amendment to extend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which gives the FBI the power to conduct warrantless spying of foreign targets and Americans they interact with.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s so-called dirty side deal was dealt another blow when Democratic leadership declined to attach it to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation, which would have fast-tracked permitting for energy projects and pushed through the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline, was reportedly supported at first by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. However, support wavered after more than 750 frontline communities and environmental justice organizations wrote a letter to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Monday opposing the deal. “Manchin’s efforts to tie his dirty deal to any must-pass legislation he can get his hands on are undemocratic and potentially devastating for the planet,” Ariel Moger, political affairs director of Friends of the Earth — one of the letter signatories — said, as The Guardian reported.
The Senate’s version of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will include $10 billion in military aid for Taiwan, *Defense News* reported on Monday. The $10 billion would be given to Taiwan over five years in the form of Foreign Military Financing (FMF), a State Department program that gives foreign governments money to purchase US weapons. However, Taiwan will be able to use $300 million of the FMF each year to purchase military equipment from its own industrial base, a privilege only currently enjoyed by Israel. Other FMF recipients need waivers to use the funds to purchase arms that don’t come from the US. The $10 billion is a massive increase from the $4.5 billion initially proposed by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in a piece of legislation known as the Taiwan Policy Act.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed the massive $778 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in a vote of 89 to 10. The legislation is a compromise version of the NDAA that was already passed by the House and now just needs President Biden’s signature to become law. Congress added $25 billion more to the spending bill than Biden requested. The bill authorizes $740.3 billion for the Pentagon, $27.8 billion for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons program, and $9.9 billion for “Defense-related Activities Outside NDAA Jurisdiction.” In September, the House passed a different version of the NDAA that included an amendment from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) that would have ended US support for the war in Yemen, but the measure was stripped from the compromise version.
The annual approval of the gargantuan U.S. military budget is one of the most reliable rituals in Congress. It is so ordinary and overwhelmingly bipartisan, it’s barely considered newsworthy, and few outlets follow the details of exactly how much the government is allocating to a nuclear weapons buildup, or deployments to the Asia Pacific, or the steady creep of U.S. military bases across the continent of Africa. Even under President Trump, when the Democratic leadership claims to have struck a more confrontational posture, those same leaders have repeatedly handed him bloated military budgets, as we saw Wednesday with Congress’ bicameral approval of a roughly $740 billion military budget for 2021.
This matters because the Corker-Kaine AUMF allows the president to decide that he has the power to use force against any “organization, person, or force” essentially at will, by designating them as associated with previously named enemy groups. Here’s how it works: The Corker-Kaine AUMF codifies an expanded list of entities against whom the president is authorized to use force. They are “the Taliban, al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and designated associated forces.” The associated forces designated by the bill are Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; Shabab; Al Qaeda in Syria; the Haqqani Network; and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Then when the bill is passed, the president is invited to designate additional “associated forces” to the list. And going forward, the president can add more at any time. All he needs to do is inform “the appropriate congressional committees and leadership” that he’s doing so.
By Apache Stronghold. The description below explains that the most recent version of the NDAA contained a rider that ceded Apache land in so-called Arizona, including the Sacred Site of Oak Flat, to Resolution Copper to mine. There have been many actions in protest of this. And now, a team from Apache stronghold is caravaning from there to so-called Washington, DC to protest and support legislation sponsored by Raul Grijalva to repeal the land grab and block mining. The Apache Stronghold asks for allies to join them in solidarity. We hope that you will welcome them if they pass through your area and that you will join them in Washington, DC for the rally at the Capitol. The tentative travel schedule is copied below.
The conviction of Occupy Wall Street protestor Cecily McMillan for assault on a police officer shows that the judiciary is corrupt and dissent will not be tolerated. We can no longer call ourselves a democratic society, and as Chris Hedges says, we are living in the “post-constitutional era.” Since 9/11, the justification given for incremental loss of our freedoms has been “keeping us safe from terrorism.” But in truth, governments always seek to accrue more power to control their populaces in service to elite economic interests. It is an imperative which pre-dated 9/11, but one that afterwards spiraled out of control. A heightened state of fear, a subliminal awareness of being expendable in the neo-liberal economy and the distraction of consumer culture have kept the majority of Americans in paralysis. In the meantime, institutions which protected our rights have been systematically undermined. This, unfortunately, is the regime we now live under: The Authoritarian State Dissent will not be tolerated. Cecily McMillan was prosecuted for assaulting a police officer when she herself was assaulted. Prosecuting her for felony assault with severe penalties serves only one purpose: to deter further protest and scare the rest of us into submission.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision to refuse to hear our case concerning Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which permits the military to seize U.S. citizens and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers without due process, means that this provision will continue to be law. It means the nation has entered a post-constitutional era. It means that extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil by our government is legal. It means that the courts, like the legislative and executive branches of government, exclusively serve corporate power—one of the core definitions of fascism. It means that the internal mechanisms of state are so corrupted and subservient to corporate power that there is no hope of reform or protection for citizens under our most basic constitutional rights. It means that the consent of the governed—a poll by OpenCongress.com showed that this provision had a 98 percent disapproval rating—is a cruel joke. And it means that if we do not rapidly build militant mass movements to overthrow corporate tyranny, including breaking the back of the two-party duopoly that is the mask of corporate power, we will lose our liberty. “In declining to hear the case Hedges v. Obama and declining to review the NDAA, the Supreme Court has turned its back on precedent dating back to the Civil War era that holds that the military cannot police the streets of America,” said attorney Carl Mayer, who along with Bruce Afran devoted countless unpaid hours to the suit. “This is a major blow to civil liberties. It gives the green light to the military to detain people without trial or counsel in military installations, including secret installations abroad. There is little left of judicial review of presidential action during wartime.”
he New Hampshire house approved a bill which deems federal indefinite detention powers unconstitutional, and bans “any activity that aids” the federal government in carrying out such powers. The approval was by a unanimous voice vote. The bill will now move on to the state senate for further consideration. Introduced by Rep. Tim O’Flaherty (D- Hillsborough), the bill quickly garnered co-sponsorship from two republicans and two democrats. Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey praised the bipartisan action. “Some things are so bad that people know it’s time to drop party affiliations and work together. Indefinite detention is really nothing more than kidnapping sanction by law, and the resistance to it from both parties in the state is refreshing news,” he said. O’Flaherty agreed. “Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians in the House all recognize the importance of defending our rights protecting us from indefinite detention without trial,” he said.
For the next 20 years I would go on from war zone to war zone as a foreign correspondent immersed in military culture. Repetitive rote learning and an insistence on blind obedience—similar to the approach used to train a dog—work on the battlefield. The military exerts nearly total control over the lives of its members. Its long-established hierarchy ensures that those who embrace the approved modes of behavior rise and those who do not are belittled, insulted and hazed. Many of the marks of civilian life are stripped away. Personal modes of dress, hairstyle, speech and behavior are heavily regulated. Individuality is physically and then psychologically crushed. Aggressiveness is rewarded. Compassion is demeaned. Violence is the favorite form of communication. These qualities are an asset in war; they are a disaster in civil society.
America is responding. Across the nation, we have begun to recognize the crisis and our duties in the face of it, and to organize ourselves to take back the American republic in line with our Constitution and our traditions of liberty. People Against the NDAA, or PANDA, has recently initiated a Take Back the Town campaign, resulting in a wave of city and town council victories nationwide. It started in Albany, N.Y., on October 7, when Albany’s “Common Council” unanimously passed Resolution 80.92.13 to become the first city in America actively to prohibit indefinite military detention under the NDAA. Albany declared itself not a battlefield, its citizens and other residents free of “disposition under the law of war,” and its law enforcement officers bound to uphold the rights of those people in the face of any opposition. Two days later the same thing happened in Oxford, Mass., which declared that “…it is unconstitutional, and therefore unlawful . . .
The State of Massachusetts is steamrolling through legislation that is blocking the Feds from using the NDAA at local levels. The organization known as P.A.N.D.A. is leading the way, not only in MA, but across the country. So far in Massachusetts, two owns have enacted legislation to effectively prevent the Federal Government from using the NDAA in their respective towns. Oxford, MA was the first, when it passed an Anti-NDAA Bill on October 9, 2013. This came just two days after Albany, New York became the first city in the country by passing Resolution 80.92.13. The Oxford resolution entitled "Restoring Constitutional Governance Resolution", came with a near unanimous decision. The resolution is very strong and states the following: ...it is unconstitutional, and therefore unlawful for any person to: a. arrest or capture any person in Oxford, or citizen of Oxford, within the United States, with the intention of "detention under the law of war", or b. actually subject a person in Oxford, to "disposition under the law of war", or c. subject any person to targeted killing in Oxford, or citizen of Oxford, within the United States;...."
This resolution was a collaborative effort between PANDA, the Patriot Coalition, Project SALAM, Jesse Calhoun, the Occupy Albany Civil Liberties Initiative, 518 Liberty Action Alliance, Campaign for Liberty New York, many other organizations, and numerous citizens from Albany and around the nation who flooded the council with calls, emails, written letters, and showed up for the vote. Kelley Citrin, Team Leader Emiritus for PANDA New York, noted: “I have never been more proud to be from the State of New York than I am today, because today reminded me that politics can still be noble, and government still responds when the cries of its people are loud enough, and persistent enough.” Albany’s stand proves that citizen activism works. One city, however, is not enough. Albany could be the start of a tidal wave. It’s time for every city in America to take the same step.
According to the United States Department of State, "no one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance" within the U.S. government. And what constitutes a terrorist is rather expansive, as Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) explains. The NDAA gives the government power to indefinitely detain someone who has an "association" with terrorism. Is a terrorist just someone who is dangerous? Rand Paul says some of the criteria for defining a terrorist include having seven days more of food, owns multiple weapons, pays in cashm has changed the color of hair. The Department of Justice includes items like keeping records on computers, carries video cameras, maps, hair dyes in your combs. Even former White House Chief of Staff Rham Emanuel meets the criteria.