Michael Bennet, Colorado Politician

I have rarely been as concerned for the future of and our Constitution as I have been since the passage last December of S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012.  I have rarely felt more frustrated with a politician than I am with Colorado Senator Michael Bennet (D) for responding to concerns about NDAA with nothing but disinformation and silence.

People with expertise in this area have voiced grave concerns about provisions of NDAA, particularly in Section 1031, which allow the government to arrest and indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without charge or due process based on mere suspicions about their support for terrorism or terrorist organizations.

Concerns about provisions so antithetical to the Constitution would be warranted any time.  But, they’re even more ominous since the told us in 2009 it considers ordinary citizens who exercise their rights to purchase or who serve in the military to be “right wing extremists” and potential terrorists.  This motivated me to look a little more deeply into what Colorado Senator Bennet, who voted in favor of S. 1867 had to say.

So, I contacted Senator Bennet’s office in mid-December, 2011 asking him to explain his support for S. 1867 and to clarify concerns about S. 1867 viz-a-viz the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.

I received an email from Senator Bennet’s office saying he also had concerns about the detainment provisions of S. 1867, but his concerns were ameliorated by the amendment offered by Senator Feinstein which he said clearly protected the rights of U.S. citizens.

Senator Bennet said, “I also supported an amendment introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California to clarify that Section 1031 does not affect existing or authorities relating to the detention of U.S. citizens, lawful resident aliens of the U.S., or any other persons who are captured in the United States.  Senator Feinstein’s amendment passed handily.”

Senator Bennet went on to say, “The overall bill, including the language of Senator Feinstein’s amendment, makes it abundantly clear that the detainee provisions do not affect existing relating to the detention of U.S. citizens.”

Senator Bennet’s answer seemed plausible, and even marginally reassuring.  Until, I checked his statements with the Library of Congress.  According to the Library of Congress, Senator Feinstein sponsored two amendments (S. AMDT 1125 and S. AMDT 1126) to S. 1867, and both were rejected by yea-nay votes of 45-55. 

Here is the exact Library of Congress record for votes on Senator Feinstein’s amendments to S. 1867:

61. S.AMDT.1125 to S.1867 To clarify the applicability of requirements for military custody with respect to detainees.
Sponsor: Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] (introduced 11/17/2011)
Cosponsors: 7
Latest Major Action: 12/1/2011 Senate amendment not agreed to.
Status: Amendment SA 1125 not agreed to in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 45 – 55.
Record Vote Number: 213

62. S.AMDT.1126 to S.1867 To limit the authority of the Armed Forces to detain citizens of the United States under section 1031.
Sponsor: Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] (introduced 11/17/2011)
Cosponsors: 9
Latest Major Action: 12/1/2011 Senate amendment not agreed to.
Status: Amendment SA 1126 not agreed to in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 45 – 55.
Record Vote Number: 214

Now I was ticked.  So, I wrote a letter to Senator Bennet on December 13, 2011 asking him to explain how Senator Feinstein’s amendments made it “abundantly clear” that S. 1867 does not affect existing relating to the detention of U.S. citizens and how they “passed handily” when both were defeated.

I have not received a reply.

I called Senator Bennet’s Denver office in mid-January, 2012 and spoke with a staff member.  I explained my concerns and asked when I should expect a reply to my December 13, 2011 letter.  The person I spoke with was clearly annoyed at being interrupted by a constituent and proceeded to lecture me about how busy Senator Bennet is, and that his email “answer” I received was probably written even before he voted yea on S. 1867.  Go figure.  I again asked when I should expect Senator Bennet to answer my letter.  Apparently, her terse meant “never”.

I believe historians will consider the monumentally important in our nation’s history.  The choices we make this November will either enable further tyranny and a rapidly growing disenfranchisement between free citizens and their government as evidenced above, or begin to steer us back to the Constitution and freedom.  I encourage my fellow citizens whose Senators are up for election in 2012 to check whether they voted yea for S. 1867, and if they did, to ask them about it.  It would be interesting to know whether other Senators also claimed that Senator Feinstein’s defeated amendments “passed handily” and made it “abundantly clear” that the rights of We The People were respected and protected.

This issue is much bigger than one Senator and one constituent.  For, if we allow politicians to promulgate tyranny in the guise of fighting terrorists, have we not already surrendered?

People much better than I’ll be on my best day gave everything to defend our freedom.  Our Founding Fathers went to to free us from the very tyranny many politicians now embrace.  The speaks clearly of our duty when our God-given rights are threatened by a “long train of abuses and usurpations”.  That means holding elected officials fully accountable for their actions.

Let’s remind them about that on Election Day!

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