For most of us, it is easy to ignore any suggestion of un-Constitutional detention of American citizens. Despite the fact that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has for the last two years included the provision allowing for the indefinite detention of American citizens, living in America, suspected of terrorism, without regard for their Constitutional rights of due process, many still hold the attitude that “it couldn’t happen here”. What people forget is that it did happen here. Seventy-one years ago, the government of the United States, led by President Franklin D. Roosevelt allowed for the detainment of American citizens with Japanese ancestry, without regard to their Constitutional rights of due process. Japanese Americans were rounded up, and put in concentration camps for years, never charged with any crime–no crime had been committed.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. It authorized the secretary of war and the U.S. Army to create military zones “from which any or all persons may be excluded.”
According to this Daily Caller article, State Senator Bob Hasegawa’s parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and their entire communities were forcibly removed from their homes, and made to live in horse stalls and stables at a fairground while the internment camps were constructed. The State Senator from Seattle said he was the first member of his family to be born outside of the camps where his family “spent three years living in barrack shacks behind barbed wire and armed guards at Minidoka Internment Camp in southern Idaho, not knowing if or when they would get out.”
As a result of this, Hasegawa’s parents abandoned their culture, and rarely spoke Japanese, because of the shame of what they were put through. His parents wanted him to never be discriminated against because of their ancestry, going so far as naming their children American sounding names–like Bob. His parents never spoke of what they went through, but the NDAA still makes Hasegawa very angry, especially because of the widespread “it could never happen to me” mentality. While many people think that only terrorists could be affected under the indefinite detention section of the NDAA, Hasegawa knows that it could happen to any of us. Although in 1976 President Ford officially rescinded Executive Order 9066, Hasegawa considers this merely lip service to what his family, and over 100,000 Japanese Americans went through. He further added, that despite Ford’s promise that America had learned from the tragedy, we appear to be making the same mistakes again.
This is why State Senator Bob Hasegawa has introduced legislation in Washington state condemning the NDAA sections which allow for unjust detention.
Hasegawa decided he needed to step up and speak for any future victims of unjust federal force. On February 1, he filed SB 5511 in the Washington Senate. The bill condemns the sections of the NDAA that allow for indefinite detention without due process as unconstitutional and includes provisions blocking any such attempts in the Evergreen State. It forbids state officials from cooperating with federal indefinite detention efforts and provides criminal penalties for anyone who tries.
Hasegawa is now working across the isle with Representatives from the Washington House who introduced companion legislation. They say that unless indefinite detention in the NDAA is combated, then due process is dead. 13 other states are working on similar legislation, blocking the NDAA within their borders. Last year Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed into law a similar bill.
It is good to see state governments fighting back against un-Constitutional federal bills. Under the Constitution, individual states were meant to be a check on federal power, something that has fallen by the wayside as the federal government expands its control. Many in state governments, not to mention federal politicians, have sworn an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution. As vigilant voters we must ensure they abide by their oaths and protect our most basic rights of liberty and freedom. Any politician who votes to destroy the due process laid out in the Bill of Rights which protects us all from detention without charge has certainly violated their oath. The Fifth Amendment says that no one shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. It’s time Americans take their rights seriously.
“Those who don’t know history, are destined to repeat it.” -Edmund Burke