WHAT IS “A BELLIGERENT ACT?”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Feb. 16, 2013) — A newly-formed organization, People Against the NDAA (PANDAunite.org) seeks to have state legislatures and local public officials pass measures which would prevent the implementation of two key provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act signed into law on December 31, 2011.
The mission of PANDAunite.org is “to nonviolently block, strike down, repeal, stop, void and fight the indefinite detention provisions, Sections 1021 and 1022, of the National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year of 2012, to fight for American civil liberties, to combat laws restricting liberty in the interest of National Security, to support current government officials that are doing so and to engage a younger generation in the politics of the United States so this cannot happen again.”
Section 1021 of the NDAA bill allows for the capture and indefinite detention of “(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks” and “(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”
Section 1022 permits the “(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.”
A signature effort of PANDA is Operation Homeland Liberty, which asks for residents of all states to take action. States which have introduced measures against the indefinite detention” portions of the 2011 bill include Washington, Kansas, Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, and Michigan. The Commonwealth of Virginia has passed a bill “that forbids state agencies from cooperating with any federal attempt to exercise the indefinite detention without due process provisions written into sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act.”
The goal of PANDA is to “repeal the NDAA” by the end of this year in every state. Leaders are still sought in Mississippi, Connecticut, Maine, Nebraska and several other states. The organization provides education, training and sample legislation to be presented to local and state elected officers. PANDA has forged affiliations with such groups as Oathkeepers, The Patriot Coalition, and The New American Media.
A lawsuit was filed in federal court by a New York Times journalist, Chris Hedges, and other “activists” contending that the “indefinite detention” element of the NDAA bill is unconstitutional naming Barack Obama and Leon Panetta as defendants. On September 12, 2012, Judge Katherine Forrest agreed with the plaintiffs and issued an injunction against the detention provisions of the law. The federal government filed an appeal to her ruling, and a decision is pending.
Upon the suggestion of a reader, The Post & Email recently interviewed Dan Johnson, Founder of PANDA, about his reasons for launching the effort, how people can become involved, and the progress achieved to date. A letter posted by Johnson states that he began the initiative, which has quickly taken hold in many states, in his college dorm room.
MRS. RONDEAU: In how many states are actions pending against the NDAA?
MR. JOHNSON: There are about 13 states where it has been introduced; however, in our legislative tracking section, it shows that we have about 20 states which are drafting legislation or have introduced it to stop the NDAA. I’m finding more as we go on. There are some states that are taking action on their own which we are just starting to connect with. So it’s about 20 states.
MRS. RONDEAU: I imagine the information is changing almost daily with the state legislatures in session.
MR. JOHNSON: Definitely. We have a map on the website which we change as often as possible, and I will be updating it again this weekend so that everybody can see the latest information.
MRS. RONDEAU: Why do you think Congress passed a bill with “indefinite detention” provisions in it?
MR. JOHNSON: In order to understand that, you have to go back to history. There’s a cycle called the “Cycle of the Body Politic” which was coined by former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. This cycle details the course a country takes, eventually ending up back in bondage, tyranny and despotism. It’s a standard country cycle. So in order to understand why our Congress passed the legislation, one must look at history and see which other nations passed it. Remember that a cycle usually lasts 250-300 years; that’s how long a civilization, aka a country, lasts. In 2026, America will be 250 years old. This legislation was passed by the Reichstag in the Fire Decrees in Germany; it was passed in Soviet Russia; it was passed in Pol Pot’s Cambodia; it is currently enacted in North Korea, Syria and China. So this legislation is following the trend. I’m sure some of the members of Congress actually believe “the-terrorists-are-out-to-get-us” mantra, but I believe that some members of Congress are doing it so they can detain either political opponents or leaders of activist movements. If you remove the leader, you remove the head. This will be used very sparingly at first; eventually, it will be used wide-scale. That is what I think some members of Congress, the president and the executive branch are taking this to be.
MRS. RONDEAU: When did you first get the idea to start your effort?
When I was in college, I was procrastinating homework one night, and I came across a video on the internet titled, “Sixty-one senators betrayed you today.” I was kind-of interested in politics, so I decided to watch the video. What I saw blew me back in my chair. I could not believe the correlation between the 1933 Enabling Act, the Reichstag Fire Decrees, the NDAA and the Patriot Act. I could not believe this was happening in America. So that YouTube video was the catalyst. After doing about a month and a half of research – because a video cannot be the most credible thing – it was really social media that really awakened me to what was going on. That was the fire that got us started.
MRS. RONDEAU: As a home-schooled child, were you taught the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers?
MR. JOHNSON: Not terribly extensively, but we were never allowed to watch the mainstream media, because we knew the media lied, regardless of which mainstream media it was. We didn’t have cable TV, so we used the TV for video-gaming in the later years that I was at home. The biggest thing that home-schooling and my parents gave me was the ability to have an open mind so even if I wasn’t taught something, when I went out into the world and someone brought something that was totally ridiculous to my mind, I was at least able to entertain the thought. That’s something I really value home-schooling and my parents for: giving me the ability to have an open mind instead of killing the creativity.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you think that public schools do that to our children?
MR. JOHNSON: Absolutely, without a doubt. There was one specific study which asked a question in a book of several kindergarten students: “What can you do with a paper clip?” So they’d sit there and tell their teachers many, many things – perhaps 80 or 100 – that can be done with a paper clip. They tested those exact same students, having gone through the public school system, in their sophomore year of high school. They asked them the same question, and those students were able to come up with only 8-10 – maybe 15, maximum – possibilities, compared to the hundreds they had come up with in kindergarten because they assumed that reality dictates that the paper clip was metal. The kindergarteners had asked, “What if it’s rubber?” and other possibilities.
There have been hundreds of studies showing that schools kill creativity because they’re all trying to work our kids toward the global economy. What do our politicians say all the time? “We need to compete in a global economy.” If we need to “compete in a global economy,” you’re looking at people as cogs in a machine and putting them in a robot mode. That’s what our public schools do to students.
MRS. RONDEAU: Is there any way that someone could use the case of Marbury v. Madison to fight the provisions of the NDAA because it says that any unconstitutional legislation is to be disregarded?
MR. JOHNSON: Maybe, if they got into court, but I quote, “…detention under the law of war without trial until the end of hostilities.” It’s very clear that you are not getting a trial, and if they attempt to go around that and say, “You will get a trial,” then either they’re not going to recognize your detention under the NDAA, call it a temporary detention and give you your constitutional rights, or they will send you to a military tribunal. So you’re not going to get an Article III court; you’re not going to get get the chance to articulate that argument even if you could use it. But it is certainly an argument that you would want to articulate if you have the chance to.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you know where the federal lawsuit against the NDAA stands?
MR. JOHNSON: Yes. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on January 13 of last year. Judge Forrest issued a preliminary injunction on May 16 saying she believed it was unconstitutional but was going to allow the opportunity for it to be heard. The government told her, “Your protections that you said you’re going to apply to people so we won’t use the NDAA on them we’re going to say apply only to the plaintiffs.” The judge was very, very angry at that interpretation and she fired back and corrected it very quickly. That was in June. In August, they heard the permanent injunction, and in September, they released the hold on the permanent injunction. Within 24 hours, it was appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the fastest appeal I ever seen.
MRS. RONDEAU: The government never files anything that quickly; it often misses its deadlines and the judge is expected to grant a default judgment to the other party.
MR. JOHNSON: To file within 24 hours shows a very dangerous possibility that they’re already using the law. Not only did they file an appeal, but they filed an emergency stay with the appeals court on Judge Forrest’s ruling which was granted three days later. It essentially says, “She said you can’t use the NDAA and she says it’s unconstitutional; we want to be able to use it. We want an emergency stay put on her ruling.” Last week, the appeals court heard the case, and we haven’t seen a ruling yet. So the current situation is that the NDAA law is unconstitutional but no one can do anything about it because of the emergency stay.
MRS. RONDEAU: Is there any word on when a decision could be expected?
MR. JOHNSON: No, it could be a couple of weeks or months; no one knows.
MRS. RONDEAU: In how many states do you have a presence currently?
MR. JOHNSON: At our peak, we had 90 chapters in almost 40 states. We have to reorganize into state teams because we got too big, and it’s impossible to keep up with 90 chapters. With that in mind, we have a goal of getting all 50 states to have a state team by the end of February. We have around 34 or 46 state teams now, so we’re almost covering the entire U.S. The teams we need are in the lesser-populated states such as Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and New Mexico.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you have online or in-person meetings?
MR. JOHNSON: A lot of it is up to the individual chapter. My local chapter here has in-person meetings which my assistant runs. I know several of the state teams have in-person meetings and some of them have phone conferences. We give a lot of leeway to our state team leaders, because the United States is not the “United Government.” There are so many different facets of each state’s local government that if we tried to control it from up here, it would be impossible to respond to the nuances. So it really depends on the state. In a huge state such as Texas, where it would take 5-6 hours to get together, it’s a phone conference. We do reach out to the public, however. Something we recently started is our PANDA national public conference call, where we have an open line to anyone who has questions on the NDAA or wants to get an update on what’s going on.
MRS. RONDEAU: Does someone need to join your organization in order to participate in a conference call?
MR. JOHNSON: Absolutely not. The number is 559-726-XXXX, and the access code is XXXXXX. The time is at 9:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday evenings. [Editor’s Note: For any reader who wishes to take part in a PANDA NDAA call, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
MRS. RONDEAU: Did you draft any of the language which the state legislatures are now considering, or did they write their own language?
MR. JOHNSON: It depends on the state. For example, in Colorado, they wrote their own language, but the problem – and this applies to the liberty movement in general – is we’ll look at a bill, and the Liberty Movement will say, “The title of the bill is ‘Stop the NDAA,’ so this bill must stop the NDAA.” So what we’ve spent most of this past month-and-a-half doing is running around fixing legislation. Our legal team has written up a brand-new piece of legislation and also two anti-NDAA resolutions, which they spent thousands of hours creating. From that, we created the Restoring Constitutional Governance Act, which is to be introduced in Colorado on Monday. Our legal team, the Intolerable Acts Action Center and The Patriot Coalition have created the pieces and legislation necessary so we can just say to the legislator, “We have it written up; go for it” and they run with it. But there’s a lot of legislation around the country introduced by various groups or the legislators themselves that we spend a lot of time fixing. We are in the process of fixing legislation in Missouri, Indiana, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, West Virginia, Michigan, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
MRS. RONDEAU: Has the reception from various committee chairmen been generally good?
MR. JOHNSON: It’s been good so far. There’s a very, very friendly committee in Missouri; there are some committees that are not so friendly. In Wyoming, HB114 introduced by the very honorable Rep. Kroeker died on the House floor; the committee barely got it through, and then the House decided not to take it up. So it depends on who your committee chair is.
MRS. RONDEAU: It sounds as if you’ve covered a lot of ground in a very short period of time.
MR. JOHNSON: When the Founding Fathers decided to take on the American Revolution, they pledged their lives, fortune and sacred honor, and they trusted their Creator to protect them. That’s what we’ve done through none other but the Creator’s help. This may not be the opinion of everyone’s opinion in the organization, but in my opinion, for none other than the Creator’s help have we been one of the fastest-growing liberty movements in the country.