Just this week two bills came under withering public criticism. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act,) PIPA (Protect IP Act) were withdrawn after a highly publicized one-day Internet protest that featured huge Web enterprises like Wikipedia, Google, ReadIt and WordPress blacking out their sites and instructing their visitors to protest the bills to their elected officials. The bills, while purporting to protect intellectual property and attack the online piracy of things like music and movies also included language that made it possible for the government to unilaterally censor or shut down any Web operations it wanted. This blatant infringement of free speech, and affront to the U.S. Constitution was tucked into the small print. Was this just sloppy legislation, or something more pernicious…a deliberate assault on our civil liberties?
Less that a month ago, another bill with even more potential constitutional damage slipped through. The NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) was signed into law on New Year’s Eve by President Obama, after he had promised to veto it. According to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) this gives the U.S. President military authority to arrest and hold anyone, anywhere, for an unlimited amount of time without charges or due process. This includes American citizens on American soil in direct violation of the 5th and 6th Amendments of the Bill of Rights.
All four of Hawaii’s Washington contingent voted in favor of this bill!
Terrorism has replaced Communism as the bogeyman used to spook the American public into yielding their constitutional rights to what could easily become a police state run under martial law. President Obama knew this bill was flawed when he signed it. He felt compelled to add an addendum or “clarification” that said these new powers would never be used against American citizens. His promise, unfortunately, is not binding on future administrations. This law must be fixed.
I strongly believe that defense of the U.S. Constitution is the primary responsibility of every elected official, and that the passage of laws that attack the foundation of our civil liberties, whether by negligence or design, borders on disastrous irresponsibility. SOPA and PIPA, under the guise of protecting our entertainment industry, laid the groundwork for political suppression. NDAA, largely a procurement authorization, contains its own toxic time bomb whose worse case would result in American gulags, or North Korean-style political re-education camps.
Our constitution is America’s defining achievement. It is what has allowed the United States to attain greatness and has established our nation as the protector of human civil liberties. As your next U.S. Senator, I promise you that protecting the U.S. Constitution, and fending off these heinous attempts to chip away at the very backbone of the American spirit will be my unwavering priority.