Members of the Utah Legislature like to decry actions of the federal government because they are actions of the federal government. But, in a resolution considered Tuesday by the Utah Senate, lawmakers have clearly found a federal act that very much deserves all the scorn our anti-Washington politicians can heap upon it.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 passed Congress late last year and was signed into law by President Obama on New Year's Eve. Hidden among its many pages of spending, weapons systems and rules for choosing names for new Navy ships are some particularly heinous provisions.
Sections 1021 and 1022 of that law give this president, and all those who come after him, power to cut through all the protections of the Constitution and imprison anyone, anywhere, for any length of time, just by accusing them of being a member, ally, supporter or admirer of al-Qaida, the Taliban or any similar force.
No formal charge. No evidence. No hearing. No access to the constitutional protections of due process and habeas corpus. The very idea is deeply offensive to the whole concept of constitutional government. The fact that it became law is a shameful mark on Obama's record and on the record of all members of Congress who voted for it. Those members include Utah's Sen. Orrin Hatch and Reps. Rob Bishop and Jim Matheson.
To their credit, Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Jason Chaffetz opposed it.
The Utah Senate should go on record opposing it as well. By passing SCR11, the Senate would officially stand against the indefinite detention provisions of the bill and urge that Congress alter or abolish them. "Winning the war against terror," SCR11 correctly and courageously states, "cannot come at the great expense of mitigating basic, fundamental, constitutional rights."
The NDAA has been condemned by politicians, pundits and activists from the right and from the left. In Utah, backers of SCR11, sponsored by Woods Cross Republican Sen. Todd Weiler, include two organizations that are not usually found on the same side of the room, much less of an issue the liberal ACLU and the conservative Eagle Forum.
It is tempting to wonder if the Senate's Republican supermajority would be moved to protest this law, and risk being labeled soft on terror, if such power had been placed in the hands of a Republican president. But leave that aside.
The Utah House and Senate should protest the NDAA. So should all Americans.