The Senate has passed an appropriations bill allowing the military to indefinitely detain US citizens while in the United States for suspected ties to al Qaeda or associated groups. Given actions by the current administration and a ruling by the Supreme Court last year, the work of groups such as Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), with whom I have served in Iraq, makes me subject to this law.
On June 30, 2010, the Supreme Court decided in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (HLP), that a citizen of the United States can be deemed a terrorist by providing information and/or training on peaceful, non-violent resolution of conflict. My thoughts at the time:
The cruel irony in our country today is that Lockheed-Martin, GE, Haliburton, KBR, Blackwater and its successor and others in the arms industry can legally sway elected officials towards violence and war by spending money (in campaign and lobbying efforts) as constitutionally-protected free speech; yet if I speak to non-government actors committing violence with a view towards peaceful resolution of the conflict, my speech is not free. Indeed, it comes at great cost, for it dubs me an aider of terrorists.
Congress and the President have successfully passed and imposed a law which prohibits aid to foreign terrorist organizations. That makes sense. But “aid” is defined to include “expert training”. By a majority ruling, the Court agreed with the Executive Branch that such things as training folks how to engage in peace and reconciliation with the other side(s) to conflict constitute forbidden expert training.
I am heartbroken.
The kinds of things made criminal by the Court’s ruling include teaching human rights law and conflict resolution, as those would be the imparting of a specific skill or specialized knowledge.
Now we face an ever-expanding incursion into the founding principles of this country, including not only free speech, but also due process of law, the bedrock upon which we rest our sense of collective self as civilized: that rules apply and that they apply equally and fairly, to all; and that no one, regardless of category (and there have been many) may be denied such things.
In this particular challenge to fairness and access, the impetus must be remembered: peace and peacemaking are seen as dangerous, subversive, threatening, while war and violence are viewed as our safe haven.
Apart from the sheer illogic of such thinking, apart from the surrender to moral bankruptcy it represents, stands the person of Jesus the Christ, the very Prince of Peace, the culmination of God's own peacable-kingdom vision.
As the Psalmist proclaims, I will speak peace to you. (Psalms 85 & 122)
To whom would we not? How can we not? For it is a word from our Lord.
Should you want to know more on how these laws are affecting the work of various charities worldwide, check out Charity & Security