President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). That means hours before 2011 came to an end, as ACLU executive director Anthony Romero stated, President Obama became “a president who will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law.”
“The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield,” adds Romero. This is all deeply troubling. But, the provision for indefinite detention is even worse. As Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, US citizens would not be exempted.
The bill expands the scope of the “war on terrorism” and also puts Congress’ stamp of approval on powers that had previously been primarily exercised by the Executive Branch without institutional support from legislators.
The NDAA is a product of the US government clinging onto the belief that it must project itself into the furthest reaches of the globe and exercise unbridled power because there is this far-reaching network of extremists, declared and undeclared, that want nothing more than to bring America to its knees. It comes from the same government that sent in special forces to kill Osama bin Laden but, with clear evidence that al Qaeda would no longer be able to thrive, declined to admit how irrational it is continue to treat terrorism as such a great threat to America. And, it is the same government that just over a week ago showed its true authoritarian spirit as it revealed Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused whistleblower to WikiLeaks, is being charged with “aiding the enemy” because the government believes he knowingly released “intelligence” through WikiLeaks to Al Qaeda.
This is also a product of a government that continues to send weapons over to Middle East and North African countries, which will undoubtedly be used to further suppress people power the US will stand up and mendaciously claim it supports. Earlier this month a shipment of tear gas was sent to Egypt.
Politicians and pundits may wish to celebrate the year of 2011 as one of the protester because of the inspirational show of self-determination displayed by citizens in the Arab uprisings, but the reality is there is an immense amount of duplicity in celebrating them while at the same time refusing to address and apologize for the arms that have been sent to the very dictators these citizens fought to topple this year.
Amnesty International released a report that showed the US far “outpaced all other countries in arms exports” to Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Sales worth “roughly $1.1 billion” were made between 2005 and 2010 and “all but $100 million” went to Egypt.
The US Fifth Fleet is stationed in Bahrain. Those wondering why a Bahrain uprising did not produce the same outcome as Egypt or Tunisia need not look any further than the presence of US power in the country.
Libya’s uprising won, so the world is led to believe. Muammar Gaddafi was killed in another illegal American war. The process of building a new government is now underway. But, the country must endure the presence of NATO, which will work in concert with the US. The future of Libya will greatly depend on how those in US government want the country to serve US interests in the region.
And just as the year comes to an end, Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh suggested publicly that he would be coming to the US to help ease tensions in his country. He has faced a major uprising since February yet has managed to maintain power. The Obama Administration is now hesitating on a decision to allow Saleh in the country, but the fact that Saleh thinks he should come here shows he wants to meet with leaders on what has happened in the past months in his country, provide intelligence on what is happening on the ground that could be used to go after Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and possibly even show gratitude for all the support the US has given him as he has been president in Yemen.
Saleh has helped give cover to the US as it asserts the power to assassinate terror suspects. He covered up for the US when they first began to use predator drones to kill suspected terrorists in Yemen. As WikiLeaks showed, Saleh agreed to lie and say the Yemeni military had shot down an Iranian “spy plane” and not a US military drone when it found the crashed reconnaissance aircraft in 2007.
The year of 2011 was in many respects the year of the drone. Not only were they being used to assassinate US citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki and deny people like him due process, but they were also being rented out by US government agencies to law enforcement in the US for domestic surveillance operations—a development that poses a gross threat to privacy.
In the final days of 2011, Congressional leaders requested details on the drone assassination programs being employed around the world. According to Antiwar.com, White House officials are rejecting efforts from Congress to provide “oversight” and contend the calls “don’t hold water.”
There are over one thousand US military bases around the world. The profound transformation that took shape with the North African and Middle East uprisings (or “Arab Spring”) in 2011, while a great triumph of humanity, is destined to become a greater challenge for the US in 2012. The US will continue to bet on autocrats that have served as useful puppets and conspire against people, if they have “war on terror” operations that are seen as more important than people-powered struggle for democracy. The US will also continue to pass and implement measures like the NDAA, which perpetuate the “war on terror” and create even more problems for American superpower than the Arab uprisings.
Now, I want to thank all of you who read The Dissenter on a regular basis for the past six months and wish you all a happy New Year.
The experience of blogging here on a regular basis, live blogging Occupy Wall Street from its first day, reporting on the Occupy movement by visiting various encampments, delivering supplies to occupiers with funds from FDL’s Occupy Supply campaign and covering the Bradley Manning pre-trial hearing as a credentialed member of the press has all been immensely rewarding.
2011 has been a year of great success for me. When I began the year, I was headed to New York City to begin an internship with The Nation magazine. I gained great insight and experience in journalism. I left The Nation and joined Firedoglake in the summer. I spent the rest of the year gaining notoriety for coverage of Occupy Wall Street, Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks (and appeared on Democracy Now!, The Alyona Show on RT and The Young Turks on Current TV.
I am looking forward to 2012. I expect the Occupy movement to continue to hold great influence over the political conversation and intend to keep providing coverage. I also will stay on the WikiLeaks beat and hopefully attend and cover Bradley Manning’s court-martial hearing.
I will continue to show the kind of dedication and passion for journalism and truth that you have come to appreciate throughout 2012. If there is anything you would like The Dissenter to do that it did not do in 2011, this is a good time to leave a comment with your suggestion(s). If there is an issue you think needs much more coverage, please inform me in the comments section or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year