Amber Lyons was an award-winning CNN journalist who lost her job because she refused to use government-generated press releases instead of personal eyewitness video and testimony as the source for her reporting. She has now joined the backlash against the NDAA or the National Defense Authorization Act and its criminalization of free speech and the free press.
Journalists rarely take a vocal stand against legislation in order to remain objective, but sometimes new laws are such an egregious assault on our basic rights to democracy and freedom that we have a duty to speak up.
This is the case with the National Defense Authorization Act, a relatively new law that gives the U.S. military the power to detain anyone without trial indefinitely, further criminalizing dissent and investigative journalism in the United States.
What does the NDAA do?
The NDAA gives the federal government the power to behave like dictators and arrest any American citizen, or anyone for that matter, without warrant and indefinitely detain them in offshore prisons without charge and keep them there until “the end of hostilities.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, calls the law a “catastrophic blow to civil liberties”.
Obama lied to the public and said he would veto the NDAA’s indefinite detention clauses. Instead, he surreptitiously signed the NDAA into law on Dec. 31, 2011 while most Americans were distracted celebrating New Years Eve. Both Romney and Obama have publicly stated their support for the new law.
“I’m not doing anything wrong, I don’t need to worry about the NDAA”
You do need to worry. The NDAA directly affects your everyday life because it is another violation of your rights to free speech, a fair trial. The NDAA also suffocates information that could expose the corruption that’s rapidly destroying this country and affecting you financially.
The NDAA will prevent some whistleblowers from coming forward with information and documents vital to the public good in fear the corrupt will pressure authorities to use the NDAA to detain the whistleblower indefinitely.
We need to reward, not instill fear in our whistleblowers. They are vital to the survival of this nation. If we don’t know what’s broke, how can we fix it? What if a government whistleblower had come forward before the start of the war to let the public know Saddam Hussein really didn’t have weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
Investigative Journalists could start being ‘disappeared’ under the NDAA
The NDAA frightens journalists because it turns us into criminals. There are no provisions within the law to protect journalists. As journalists, we take a vow to never reveal our confidential sources. If the U.S. government, or corrupt corporations pressuring authorities, want information on our confidential sources, the NDAA gives them the power to indefinitely detain us by saying the refusal to reveal sources is an act that is “aiding terrorists” .
We are all ‘terrorists’
Another disturbing aspect of the NDAA is that it allows the government to imprison anyone suspected of or even associated with ‘terrorism’. This power is open to wide interpretation under the law and can and will be abused.
Who in the heck is a terrorist anymore? We’ve witnessed the U.S. government and Military-industrial complex mold the term ‘terrorist’ to their subjective and financial goals too many times to trust any use of that word. Even Nobel Peace Prize-winner Nelson Mandela was once considered a terrorist by governments worldwide and put on U.S. terrorist watch lists.
As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges told Democracy Now, the term ‘terrorist’ is too loose so what the NDAA is really doing is setting up a legal mechanism to criminalize dissent.
“We saw an attempt to link the U.S. Day of Rage with Al Qaeda. Once they link you with a terrorist group, then these draconian forms of control can be used against legitimate forms of protest, in particularly the Occupy Movement,” Hedges said. Corrupt corporations can use the NDAA to pressure the government to crush banking protests, environmental protests, strikes… it’s a slippery slope.
The NDAA will be used to crush protests
Possibly most disturbing is the NDAA’s power to crush all dissent and protests in the U.S., protests that are vital to free speech, change, the survival of democracy.
What will keep the government, possibly under pressure from banks, corporations and the Military-industrial complex, from starting to list various protesters and organizations as terrorists? What will happen when protesters stop voicing their concerns or hitting the streets because they fear they will ‘disappear’ under the NDAA?
The systematic crushing of dissent through NDAA-esque powers is already happening in this country. The family of U.S. Marine Veteran Brandon Raub, says he was kidnapped by law enforcement after posting anti-U.S. government statements on Facebook.
We must rise up and take action to stop the NDAA before it’s too late.