Inspired by a YouTube video, a 20 year old built a movement against the National Defense Authorization Act that allows the government to indefinitely detain anyone, even American citizens.
In his dorm room in Bowling Green, Ohio, in 2011, Dan Johnson watched a YouTube video comparing the rise and fall of the Third Reich in Nazi Germany to what was happening in the political realm in the United States at the time. The video specifically detailed a piece of legislation known as the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.
The video has since been taken down, but it inspired then-18 year old Johnson to get into politics.
Concerned about the vague language of the 2012 NDAA bill, which opponents argue allows the government to unlawfully and indefinitely detain U.S. citizens, including journalists, who “associate” or “substantially support” enemies of the U.S. such as terrorist groups like al-Qaida, Johnson formed a national grassroots organization urging resistance to the 2012 NDAA legislation and calling for the removal of the government’s ability to indefinitely detain people, including American citizens.
Known as PANDA, or People Against the NDAA, Johnson, now 20, told MintPress News that he started the nonpartisan organization that advocates for the passage of anti-NDAA legislation on a local level because he was concerned that the U.S. government was preparing to indefinitely detain groups of Americans without allowing them to exercise their rights granted under the U.S. Constitution such as due process.
Though some may find it hard to believe, the federal government has, in fact, locked up groups of Americans who were merely suspected of wrongdoing or of associating with a person or organization the government believes is capable of harming the U.S. During World War II, for example, Japanese-Americans were rounded up like cattle and housed in internment camps.
When pushback against the NDAA at the federal level fell upon deaf ears — probably due to the wide support it received — many opponents began working at the state and local levels to make changes.
Four states — California, Alaska, Virginia and Michigan — have passed legislation that Mike Maharrey, communications director of the Tenth Amendment Center, says prohibits any state resources or state officers from assisting in the indefinite detention of that state’s residents.
Similar legislation is currently being debated or introduced in over a dozen other states.
Although Maharrey previously told MintPress this state-by-state legislation may not prevent the feds from indefinitely detaining individuals or even ensure that due process privileges are respected, it does send a message to lawmakers in Washington, D.C., that certain provisions in the NDAA are “not constitutionally right or morally right.”
While the state legislation has been applauded by some, Johnson says that after analyzing the legislation that has been passed, the laws don’t really do anything but “make people feel warm and fuzzy,” since they don’t fix the crux of the problem.
While Johnson is critical of the state-level fix, he applauds the anti-NDAA legislation passed in five cities to date — Albany, New York; Oxford, Mass.; Webster, Mass.; Emmett, Idaho; and Middleton, Idaho — as well as one county — Gem County, Idaho. He said that these laws go a lot further to protect Americans.
PANDA may have started as a centralized movement with official chapters and state teams, but Johnson decided to decentralize the movement when it was pointed out to him that he was building a big collective in order to defeat big collectivism. PANDA is currently staffed with no more than 50 people, who Johnson says won’t tell Americans what to do, but will provide them with resources, tools and ideas on how to take back their freedom and liberty — something thousands of people across the U.S. are now actively pursuing.
As the majority of Americans don’t appear to be aware of what exactly the NDAA legislation is or how potentially harmful it is, Johnson admits there is a lot of education involved in the process, and it takes about a week for an individual to understand why the NDAA legislation is so dangerous. He says that talking to activist groups and individuals is usually the best way to help people understand the issue, since simply reading about it online doesn’t force someone to necessarily think about how he or she is impacted by the law.
Interestingly, it’s how people are personally impacted by the law that Johnson says often sparks an individual’s involvement in promoting the passage of local anti-NDAA legislation. He told MintPress that it’s often when people discover that a terrorist is not defined as the stereotypical man of Middle Eastern descent who blows up buildings, but more as someone who disagrees with the government.
According to the Department of Justice, people like journalists who interview suspected terrorists, as well as those missing fingers or stocking guns, weatherproofed ammunition or a seven-day supply of food in their home, can be considered terrorists.
Though Johnson says that as with medical marijuana legalization, there will come a point when there’s enough legislation passed at a local level that the feds have no choice but to respond in some way.
Johnson warns that the federal government shouldn’t be the one to fix the troublesome aspects of the legislation, since he says it’s the feds who have benefitted from this legislation and abused their power by assassinating some Americans and indefinitely detaining others without awarding them their rights to due process.
Read the full text of the NDAA below