Dan Johnson, national director of PANDA.
A nationally-known activist is in Kodiak this week and will present his views on the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA.
Dan Johnson is the founder and national director of PANDA, which stands for people against the NDAA.
“We are a national, non partisan, grass roots organization that is dedicated to pushing back and resisting and training activists around the country to resist the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, specifically the detention provisions within that piece of legislation.”
Johnson said he believes the 2012 NDAA declares America a battlefield in the war on terror and gives the military unrestricted power in fighting that war, even if it risks American civil liberties.
“That includes detention without trial of American citizens or people on our soil. That includes torture, that includes warrantless executions and the military can be ordered by the president, and the president alone – one person, can be ordered by the president to go after anyone here in this country and wholeheartedly violate their constitutional rights.”
He said provisions in the 2012 NDAA are essentially expansions of the powers under the 2001 authorization for use of military force, which was passed six days after the September 11 terrorists attack. Much like that authorization, Johnson said sections of the 2012 NDAA rely heavily on the word “terrorist” and strip away the rights of someone who is considered one. He said he is concerned with this country’s interpretation of who is a terrorist and its seemingly broad definition.
“The problem we had in America is we said, “yes,” we’re OK with terrorists not having rights. Because when you create a category of people that does not have rights, all the government has to do is expand that definition to include you.”
All three of Alaska’s D.C. delegates voted for the 2012 NDAA. Matthew Felling, the communications director for Lisa Murkowski, said the senator believes America is a nation of checks and balances but doesn’t see the 2012 provisions as the government overreach Johnson does.
“When you look closely and study these two provisions they focus on individuals who planned, carried out or aided al Qaeda in it’s 9/11 attacks or are part of or support al Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces who are still engaged in hostilities against the United States and whether they should be considered enemy combatants. When you look at the provisions and realize that they are limited to those people who we can all understand are enemies of this nation, you realize that this is not the expansive language that some others would have you believe that is.”
He said the provisions do include U.S. citizens, if they are associated with active forces that are engaged in hostilities and violent acts against the United States.
“Not the average American who buys a gun or checks out a book. This is a vast difference between the two. This is an active element of al Qaeda versus the rest of us.”
Still, Johnson disagrees and will present his reasoning why to the Kodiak community during a presentation on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Kodiak Public Library’s multipurpose room.