JOE WOLVERTON, II
New American 
April 22, 2012
“Sound and fury signifying nothing.” That is how Shakespeare’s Macbeth described life. That same description could be aptly applied to a bill introduced recently in the House of Representatives that purports to cure the cancerous malady that is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
On Wednesday, April 18, Representative Scott Rigell (R-Virginia) along with 26 co-sponsors offered H.R. 4388, a measure given the very misleading name of the “Right to Habeas Corpus Act.”
According to the language in the bill, its intent is to:
state that nothing in the Authorization for Use of Military Force or the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus for any person who is detained in the United States pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution.
Why, one may ask, would a constitutionalist news organization like The New American criticize the efforts of a cadre of elected representatives to protect the right of habeas corpus from federal eradication? For the simple reason that Congressman Rigell’s bill is all bark and no bite. The suspension of habeas corpus is but a painful symptom of a much more pernicious and potentially fatal disease.
The NDAA has significantly reduced the life expectancy of the rule of law and constitutional liberty in our Republic. On New Year’s Eve 2011, President Barack Obama signed this law granting himself absolute power to indefinitely detain American citizens suspected (by him) of being “belligerents.” In the signing statement he appended to it, however, he assured Americans that he would never use it in an unconstitutional manner.
The President continued by explaining that to indefinitely detain American citizens without a trial on the charges laid against them “would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.”
Ironically, this very signing statement is itself violative of the Constitution, the separation of powers established therein, and ironically only serves to underline the President’s proclivity for disregarding constitutional restraints on the exercise of power once those powers have been placed (albeit illegally) by a complicit Congress at his disposal.
As I have written before, once its development begins in the body politic, the muscle of tyranny never atrophies.