By Sheryl Devereaux, US Daily Review Contributor
Commentary exposing the disservice of West’s emphatic “clarification” on the NDAA, contrary to the bill’s own words.
Allen West needs to apologize profusely for his lack of due diligence to his constituency and every audience, including the world wide one that views YouTube to whom he spoke about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). A recent YouTube video clip of Mr. West speaking at a Tea Party event in Florida proves two things: One, Mr. Allen doesn’t appear competent to be a legislator of any kind; secondly, that he is a living example of why we have a problem with bad and even unconstitutional legislation in America. He might as well have been conducting a seminar on the keen art of buying and selling swamp land in Florida.
In a clip, Allen West finally sets record straight about National Defense Authorization Act.wmv; West reads the summary of the National Defense Authorization Act which states that the bill is specific to Al Qaeda and other terrorists and not to Americans. West also emphasizes no new powers are given to the Federal government. He then goes to page 657 and reads verbatim the paragraph that exempts Americans from Military Custody. West says he is reading page 657, but he is not. In fact, he is actually reading on page 430, Section 1032b (1) of S1867 or page 266 Section 1022 of HR 1540, which he read as follows:
…(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS.—The require
11ment to detain a person in military custody under
12 this section does not extend to citizens of the United
West challenges the audience to tell him where in the bill there is anything suggesting something different than this exemption. I wish I had been there because I read the bill. I have to wonder what West would have done had someone in the audience known anything about the bill. Perhaps they didn’t bother to read the bill because they were expecting Mr. West to be the expert to guide them.–So much for the value of expert guidance. So, to his challenge is the following, page 403, Section 1032 and 1022 a (4), respectively, the paragraph just preceding and specific to the one he read, Sec. 1032 and 1022 b (1), respectively, as above, is:
(4) WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY.—The
2 Secretary of Defense may, in consultation with the
3 Secretary of State and the Director of National In
4 telligence, waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if
5 the Secretary submits to Congress a certification in
6 writing that such a waiver is in the national security
7 interests of the United States.
It is not difficult to understand that the waiver in the paragraph he didn’t read is specifically referring to the one he did considering the use of Paragraph b “(1)” which includes the language about “the requirement”.
Mr. West introduced himself as a qualified expert on the bill, as one who sits on the Armed Forces Committee. Hmm. Did West know what was in the bill then but simply defrauded the audience? Or did Mr. West do what notoriously happens on the Capitol: he didn’t read the bill?
This public incident should be an embarrassment to Mr. West. To be amply fair to him, we should err on the side of charity and conclude that he isn’t nefarious but careless and/or naïve and did the latter rather than the former above. Sadly, either way, he has done a great disservice to his constituency, the audience, and those of YouTube.
But this incident illustrates a larger issue than the betraying act itself. It shows two significant paradigms that must change as part of a strategy to mend our political and societal problems in America.
First, Americans need to lose their naiveté and start reading bills themselves. The Constitutional debates include specific discussion that legislation should be short and clearly understandable to the average citizen. (Tongue in cheek: this bill is short—shy of 700 pages and obviously understandable given all the debate. Of course it helps to read the entire bill.) Moreover, Americans seem to believe that somehow those who represent us are more intelligent than us. This example with West is not an exception, but more the rule. It would behoove Americans to expect that if they can’t read a bill, it’s likely their representative can’t either. Americans should make it clear that if they cannot get through a bill, it doesn’t get passed. Period.
Secondly, any legislator or any person who reads the summary under the assumption that it equates to reading the bill is both naïve about the bias of summaries and lazy. This cherry picking of the bill to emphasis what the summary says is precisely why we have bills that are improper, inaccurate to their intent and/or in denial of the Constitution outright.
Sadly, this is precisely the kind of misguidance that is leaving the American public in a dizzying state of confusion and disenchantment with their own politics. Allen West has some explaining to do and it better not equate to selling proverbial swamp land in Florida.
Sheryl Devereaux is a prolific writer and researcher, speaker, and radio commentator on the Constitution and public policy. You can listen to her show, Foundation of a Nation on allfiredupradio.net or find her on facebook, and on twitter @sheryldevereaux.