NDAA Amendments To Punish Palestine-Obama threatens to Veto bc It Trespasses on His Power

NDAA signSo there’s a few things going on around the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that folks need to pay attention to.. First we had a vote in the Senate that went down yesterday.. The Senate voted to pass amendments that would curb military detentions of US citizens. Here’s a run down of what occurred as reported in here in The Hill newsletter

Senators who have battled for more than a year over military detention of U.S. citizens nearly all supported an amendment from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Thursday, but the two sides had very different interpretations of what the provision accomplished.

Feinstein’s amendment, which states that U.S. citizens or permanent residents shall not be detained without charge or trial, passed the Senate 67-29, with 19 Republicans joining with most Democrats to pass the bill.

Feinstein said her amendment with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) would prevent the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents captured on U.S. soil.

The amendment clarified that the law “does not permit an American citizen or legal resident to be picked up and be held without end, without charge or trial,” Feinstein said Thursday.

Feinstein’s push to change the detention laws was backed by liberal Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans such as Lee and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

Senator Dianne Feinstein

Senator Dianne Feinstein

Feinstein was trying to ease fears that NDAA would lead to American citizens being picked up and kept indefinitely without being charged or having the right to see a lawyer..However, some of her fellow Senators like Lindsey Graham (R-SC) went on record to say that while they support Feinstein’s amendment, it would only be if the understanding is that Congress would have the ability to authorize indefinite detentions.

Basically Graham and Democratic senator Carl Levin (D-Mich)who played a key role in pushing through NDAA the first go round, want it made crystal clear that if you are a US citizen and they can attach you as being down with Al Qaeda, then all bets are off and you are off the books and they can do whatever they deem necessary to ‘win the war’.  Yep you read that right..

Senator Graham backed Levin by stating that we as a country should be able to interrogate a person in a way that will help us win a war.. From that I gather they mean something akin to torture, although that specific language is not being used.

Senator Chuck Schumer

Senator Chuck Schumer

A new wrinkle has been added to this bill earlier today. In response to the historic UN Vote where over 130 countries voted to recognize Palestine as a state vs the 9 who opposed which include the US, Israel and Canada, an amendment was introduced by NY Democrat Chuck Schumer on behalf of AIPAC to punish Palestine if anyone attempts to back them or supports their interests especially as it relates to cases brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC).  This includes forcing them to close their offices here in the US and cutting off any and all aid. This is on top of the fact that there is already blockade in Gaza via Israel. Yep folks this is getting ugly. You can read about that HERE

Lastly if things couldn’t get more tricky. This morning the White House threatened to Veto this new NDAA legislation, not because they take issue with penalties issued toward Palestine, but because the new additions prevents President Obama ‘from pursuing his defense strategy and trespasses on his power’..He is also upset that it screws with some of his budgetary perogatives. In others words it would prevent him from making certain cuts to the military. You can read about that HERE

Palestine map

Obama’s Re-Elected What Next? Michael Skolnik of Global Grind & Hip Hop Activist Rosa Clemente Weigh In

With the re-election of President Barack Obama, we been having a series of discussions on Hard Knock Radio with key activists and organizers all over the country about the next steps we should be taking. This is an important conversation considering how concerned and dissatisfied many were feeling in the weeks and months leading up to the 2012 election.

Many felt President Obama had come up short on a number of issues and was dreadfully wrong on others. Many who felt things weren’t headed in the right direction were cautioned that we should give the President time to get his bearings. We were told he inherited a tremendous mess and that change would not come overnight.

We were also told that President Obama was under tremendous pressure from his political opponents who were determined to limit him to one term. The type of obstruction Obama was up against in Congress was unprecedented. he amount of racism directed at him was unprecedented. Hence activist and organizers were encouraged to fall back and rally around the president with the goal of shielding him and getting him a second term.

That has finally happened the other night. In the aftermath of his re-election there should now be strong pushes for him to address issues of poverty, the plight of labor, ending the war and other imperialistic foreign policies, deading mass deportations and eradicating the ramped up domestic spying and erosion of constitutional rights via NDAA.

As Boots Riley of the Coup famously pointed out not too long ago, our vibrant movement for social justice where many of these key issues were being addressed and fought for long before Obama was even a presidential candidate somehow became morphed into a movement to get him into office. That was good for Obama but not necessarily good for the movement. The momentum garnered over the past 8 years should not have dwindled  It left us short-changed.

This time around, many are re-thinking, re-tooling and laying out plans of action for the next 4 years and beyond. Many activists are determined not to make the same mistake of jettisoning their respective movements for the sake of an elections. Others are determined to keep themselves and the people around politically engaged beyond 2 and 4 year contest. Still others are finding that its time to build from the ground up, by establishing strong local basis that can withstand any sort of national political storms.

Michael Skolnik

One of the people we interviewed a day or so after the election is Michael Skolnik who is editor and chief of Global Grind, which is an online publication owned by Hip Hop mogul Russell Simmons. Skolnik was also a surrogate for the Obama campaign.

During our interview we covered a range of topics including how to hold this President accountable to why we didn’t see more young people who voted in overwhelming numbers having visible seats at the table.

We discussed some of the problems that many had with Obama on key issues and what would be the best ways to push him and not get be obstructed by supporters who were over defensive.

We also talked about long term strategies and what we should be striving for during Obama’s second term. Skolnik offered some great insight and suggestions Peep the Hard Knock Radio interview below. Let us know what you think…

We also spoke with long time Hip Hop activist and former Green Party vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente. Rosa has long been pushing that the Hip Hop  generation move away from constraints of the democratic party and adopt a more radical and uncompromised politic. She feels Hip Hop has become too much of a mouthpiece for the democrats and has lost a lot of its bite and overall integrity, especially when it remains silent and actually cheerleads a president who embraces policies that Hip Hop folks have long stood against.

She talked about the importance of us focusing on younger voices, creating space for many who have been locked out and highlighting the work of on the ground organizations like the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement who never stopped organizing and pushing even with Obama in the White House.

Clemente noted that there’s been a pressure to vote over organizing and its led to folks believing that’s the only thing needed to be politically changed. This has been too much of an oversimplification in addressing systemic and complex problems and that perspective needs to be changed. With the re-election of Barack Obama, Clemente sees opportunity for endless possibilities for great change. She notes, the focus can now return to us  resolving our issues vs getting someone re-elected.

Rosa concluded our Hard Knock Radio interview by sharing her personal vision for change during which includes stepping up and strengthening the Green Party. .. Click the link below.