RICHMOND, Va. —John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, is calling on Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to sign legislation which requires that agencies of the Commonwealth of Virginia, including the Virginia National Guard, not violate the US Constitution and the Constitution of Virginia by helping the armed forces arrest American citizens. Noting that the provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 which allows for the indefinite detention of Americans is a violation of basic constitutional rights, Whitehead points out in a letter to McDonnell that he is in the unique position to affirm the Commonwealth’s commitment to liberty and the rule of law. Moreover, the legislation has broad support from across the political spectrum and the near unanimous support of the Virginia legislature.
“As has been observed over the past ten years, the federal government has taken a keen interest in erecting a state of surveillance and compliance, which is evidenced by events such as the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, the erection of a massive domestic surveillance network under the authority of the National Security Agency, and most recently, legislation authorizing the use of aerial drones to scan the skies of America,” said Whitehead. “The provision of the NDAA 2012 allowing for the indefinite detention of Americans is one in a long line of federal government abuses in the years since 9/11 and Virginians have had enough.”
HB 1160 prohibits any agency of the Commonwealth from assisting “an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the conduct of the investigation, prosecution, or detention of any citizen… as provided by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.” The NDAA 2012, the mammoth defense bill passed by the United States Congress in late 2011 and signed by President Barack Obama on New Year’s Eve, contains a provision allowing for the indefinite detention of American citizens by the armed forces. While acknowledging that President Obama has claimed that he will not exercise the power of arbitrary military detention of American citizens as allowed in the NDAA 2012, Whitehead insists that the President’s unease is no cure for the systemic dismantling of Americans’ civil liberties currently taking place at the federal level. If enacted, HB 1160 would ensure that the Commonwealth of Virginia would take no part in the slow erosion of Americans’ cherished civil liberties. The legislation, penned by Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, has wide support in the Commonwealth. “Interest groups as politically diverse as the American Civil Liberties Union and the John Birch Society are in opposition to the offending provision of the NDAA 2012, and HB 1160 has near unanimous support in the Virginia legislature,” said Whitehead. “To veto the measure would not only be a disservice to the Constitutional rights of Virginians, but would go against the popular will of the people of Virginia.”