Both the Senate and the House recently passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA); a $662 billion Defense bill. It broadens the military’s power to arrest and detain any and all people as suspected terrorists without due process protections, whether captured here or abroad. Despite veto threats from our illustrious president, the bill passed and was signed into law.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, another bill was introduced into Congress that threatened the safety and security of not just Americans, but nationalized residents as well. It is called The Enemy Expatriation Act or EEA (H.R.3166) and it is something out of a fascist’s playbook.
Introduced by Charles Dent, R-Penn., and co-sponsored by Jason Altmire, D-Penn., Robert Latta, R-Ohio, and Frank Wolf, R-Va., this bill allows the government to remove the nationality of anyone who participates in any terrorist activity, or activity that seems to be of a terroristic nature, or even something that only sort of has loosely to do with the subject of terrorists. This means that an American’s citizenship rights and the constitutional protections those rights infer can be stripped away merely based upon an allegation.
Both of these bills send shivers down the spines of the average American, and yet somehow the powers that be saw fit to draft yet another horrific piece of legislation that will haunt our dreams for generations to come. A bill that goes beyond our physical security and national status, and begins to threaten our First Amendment rights, the very foundation on which our country was built.
This bill is called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and its Senate ugly cousin, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). SOPA and PIPA would give the government the power to obliterate the most important aspect of the internet that separates it from all other media: its freedom.
Essentially what these acts set out to do in the name of preventing copyright infringement is to target the host site itself, rather than simply removing the copyrighted content and prosecuting the illegal downloaders.
However, what the proponents of the bill aren’t as eager to tell you is the expanded version of what they do. SOPA and PIPA would give the Department of Justice the power to go after both foreign and domestic websites based merely on the accusation they are advertising free downloadable copyrighted content (such as movies, songs, etc.) and force U.S. companies to sever ties with them. This would deny all Americans access to those sites by making them unavailable because of their content, just like they do in China.
The intent of SOPA and PIPA, to deter people from illegally downloading content without paying for it, is completely legitimate. Intellectual property theft is a serious crime and should be prosecuted accordingly. However, the overreaching arm that has grown out of this seemingly innocent quest for intellectual property rights has begun to pull dangerously hard on the Constitutional seams that hold our country together.
These two bills, on top of the impending doom of due process threatened by the NDAA and EEPA, continue a dangerous pattern where, in the pursuit of justice, the very definition of justice itself is challenged by none other than those sworn to protect it.
Kind of gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “freedom isn’t free.”
Rebecca DiFede is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government.
When will government stop trying to control us?