Unwelcome assault on our liberties

Darkness was falling on Dec. 15 as the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. It is ironic that at a time when the country should have been celebrating the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, Dec. 15, 1791, more commonly known as the Bill of Rights, our elected representatives were completing legislation that essentially eviscerates the liberties that the Bill of Rights secured for every U.S. citizen. To truly comprehend the travesty of this new legislation, one only needs to review these Constitutional rights for him or herself. Kansas is represented by four congressmen and two senators. The only one who voted against this heinous assault on our freedom was Congressman Tim Huelskamp.

The NDAA designates the entire world including the "homeland" as the battleground for the "War on Terror." In sections 1031 and 1032 it also gives the president the power to have anyone arrested and indefinitely detained who he believes "substantially supports terrorist groups" and/or "associated forces." It is important to understand that after arrest the detainee will not be informed of the charge against him and will not have access to an attorney, judge or U.S. Court. The term "associated forces" is vague and open to interpretation. A quote from section 1032 reads "The requirement to detain a person in military custody does not extend to citizens of the United States." The key word to focus on in this provision is "requirement." Although it stipulates that the president is not required to detain a U.S. citizen, he does have the authority to detain a U.S. citizen if he deems it necessary in the interest of national security.

The Obama administration, more specifically, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, has made it clear in past policy statements whom she considers a significant threat, namely, right-wing extremists. Her definition of right-wing extremism includes: those who oppose restrictions on firearms, one world government, expansion of social programs, this country's ever increasing involvement in wars and several other common conservative viewpoints. To put it more simply, she would like to quash political dissent which is protected by the First Amendment. Secretary Napolitano has also been criticized for characterizing returning veterans as potential domestic terrorists.

One of the sponsors of this bill, Sen. John McCain, has been pursuing this kind of legislation for some time. His intensions can be understood if you read another bill he sponsored titled "The Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act of 2010." That bill did not distinguish between U.S. citizens and non-citizens and stated that "suspected belligerents" who were "considered a "high-value detainee" shall not be provided with a Miranda warning.

The final vote for the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 was on Dec. 15, 2011. On Dec. 31, President Obama signed it into law, as darkness continued to fall. The "Tree of Liberty" is regrettably looking pretty wilted.

Aspiring patriot,

LISA J. ADAMS,

Lakin

Embrace progress for the Windsor

Dear citizens,

The recent event of the GC Windsor Developers, LLC, redevelopment proposal for the Windsor Hotel has demonstrated the significance of the building beyond its historical value. The community has expressed their interest in what happens to the keystone building of Garden City and the area.

Last Wednesday, the Finney County Preservation Alliance approved the contract agreement which will allow the GC Windsor Developers, LLC, to move forward on their application for the Feb. 3 tax credit deadline. This is an onerous application process in a short timeline. Our community part will be to show the support and desire for a renovated viable Windsor Hotel to the powers that be and help make it the vibrant building we want it to be in the place we call home. The developers are setting up dates to seek our input on the plans.

The Alliance will help in any way possible to make the application successful, but will operate with the understanding there is the potential it may not be approved. We will continue to pursue completion of current grant work and seek funding for further renovation.

In this 125th year of the groundbreaking for the Windsor Hotel, the Alliance is planning a celebration Feb. 22 to honor the exact date and ongoing events throughout the year to commemorate the event. One part of the project is to gather oral histories related to the building.

We are a volunteer organization and our 14-year existence is proof of the ongoing importance the Windsor Hotel and preservation holds for our membership. If you want to be part of the process, join our organization and come to our annual meeting Jan. 25.

The passion the restoration of the Windsor Hotel evokes is what drives our effort. The proposal before us will potentially make the renovation of the Windsor Hotel a reality and be the largest downtown reinvestment of our lifetime.

We are moving forward and you are the reason why.

Respectfully,

DON HARNESS

Garden City