Once the US Constitution is rendered unenforcebale, America becomes a mere wish. A republic of a free people ceases to exist except as delusion. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, with its billions in wel(war)fare and military kidnapping powers against Americans on their own soil, marks a sign of the times. Is there a way to manifest the idea of America again?

The undaunting writer and author Garet Garrett wrote in 1952, “We have crossed the boundary that lies between Republic and Empire. If you ask when, the answer is that you cannot make a single stroke between day and night: the precise moment does not matter. There was no painted sign to say: ‘You now are entering Imperium.’ Yet it was a very old road and the voice of history was saying: ‘Whether you know it or not, the act of crossing may be irreversible.’ And now, not far ahead, is a sign that reads: ‘No U-turns.’”

Is that the sign of the times now? More like And now, not far behind!

With Obamacare and the dollar crisis approaching, why focus on NDAA? There are indeed countless violations of the US Constitution, but the fundamental change this country will soon experience is a natural consequence of empire. As the military is politicized and the police militarized, foreign policy dictates domestic policy.

Let’s start with a review of what exactly is authorized in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. It is a reaffirmation of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). This legislation signed by President Obama on New Years’ Eve 2011 contained what have come to be known as the “indefinite detention provisions” or Sections 1021 and 1022.

Section 1021 covers “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” and codifies the President’s power to detain “without trial until the end of hostilities.” Note that the 2001 AUMF covered “A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occured on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.” You and I fall under the laws of war if suspected of “substantially supporting” “associated forces.” Quite an expansion of power and definitions is necessary for furthering imperial policies all the way to the homeland.

Rush Limbaugh said of the NDAA, “This is the kind of stuff that exists in third world banana republics” where detention powers are levied on “anyone for no reason.” He is right. The Global War on Terror is now also local. Such power can be bewildering but it is the tendency for a militarized society, one with no economic, moral or legal compass. But it’s just for the terrorists the Graham/McCain neoconservatives would retort. We are a stronger nation for giving the military more options! No.

Were the Framers and Ratifiers hell-bent on creating a weak nation when they agreed “No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court”?

Were the Founders doodling mindlessly when the words “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” were added?
Article 3, Section 3 and the 5th Amendment are a just a fraction of the essential attributes of the Constitution that guard against militarism. The whole point was to insure a republican form of government, not an empire. But the NDAA nullifies that, and so nullifies the Constitution itself.

Thomas Jefferson extolled the virtues of antimilitarism. In the Declaration of Independence one of the complaints against King George was that “He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.” What would a Jeffersonian declare today at the sight of 283 representatives and 86 senators approving military kidnapping of American citizens for the President’s desk?

Remember that No U-turns sign? The Jeffersonian would go for it anyway. No,  not sue the President, due to have the Supreme Court rule in favor of National Security. No, not even work to vote in a new Congress. The kind of U-turn needed to steer away from empire requires genuine grassroots action. State nullification is the republican principle that asks the question, “Who enforces the Constitution?” This is where the conversation for restoring the republic must begin.

If the Constitution has any authority at all, it comes from We The People. Beyond public schooling that claims the American federal government’s 3 branches check and balance each other, there is a much more important check and that is the parties to the compact, the states themselves. Don’t forget the states preceded the Constitution and ratified it with specific instructions, not a sacrifice to an all powerful National Capitol.

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Thomas Jefferson said the Tenth Amendment was the “cornerstone of the Constitution” and backed it up with action in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, then again in 1799. James Madison took equivalent tact in Virginia during the same time. Jefferson held nullification to be “the rightful remedy,” and Madison said it was the duty of states to interpose whenever the feds stepped outside their Constitutional realm. This is a muscle that has always been a part of the American political anatomy but it has atrophied. It remains a wonder to most people that all the power the empire takes is from the lifeblood of a republic. Too many believe both can coexist.

If we don’t nullify the NDAA, then the NDAA will nullify the charter documents, the Declaration and Constitution. The Founders were not naïve after experiencing occupying and masscring by the Readcoats. They learned firsthand the destruction of standing armies, so they invisioned a Militia system instead. There is no such institution now, just the Pentagon’s pawns. The only way to push back is through nullification at the city, county, and state levels.

Already 16 municipalities and 16 states have introduced or passed non-compliance resolutions or bills resisting the NDAA. The non-partisan Tenth Amendment Center keeps track of these efforts here. The federal government is responding in typical public relations form but the word is getting out. Watch President Obama dodge NDAA questions here. The secrecy is being challenged. When voters realize their influence, Washington, D.C. threats are revealed to be hollow bluffs. Nullification of the measures taken by the military industrial complex is the way to constitutional republican government. From that root, civil liberties and economic freedom will expand, not empire.

originally published at conbustible.com

Nick Hankoff
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