By Dr. Shaik M. Ubaid

One of the most dangerous and sinister attacks on the fundamental liberties of this nation is currently underway. Ironically, this sneak assault is led by federal legislators (Senators) who are obligated to uphold the rule of law and balance the powers of the Executive. The Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act has clauses in it, whereby the President can order the US military to go around the country and apprehend and keep American citizens under detention indefinitely.  These clauses were added in a manner which did not allow time for a thorough debate and the citizens could not be made aware of the profoundness of the consequences of these clauses.

The bill now goes to the conference committee of the Congress where it needs to be reconciled with the House version which does not possess similar clauses.

The President and the heads of the national intelligence agencies are against these clauses.  Yet, the President might find it almost impossible to veto a defense bill in an election year.

This bill once it becomes the law will effectively abrogate the Bill of Rights. We are being misled to believe that the law will not apply to American citizens. Yet the language is so vague that it can very easily be applied to arrest US citizens.  Even if the Bill categorically state the military will have the powers to round up legal residents and not the citizens, it still will be immoral and un-American.

Without the Bill of Rights, America will cease to exist as a democracy as envisioned by the founders of the nation and by the later reformers such as Rev. Martin Luther King and Susan B. Anthony.

Just imagine a President such as Dick Cheney having these dictatorial powers. Starting from Andrew Jackson, a few Presidents did cause  tremendous damage to many groups and to  the Bill of rights in the past.  The most recent being when President Roosevelt interned hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans. Those assaults on our democracy and liberty were transient. This time the undermining of our constitutional way of government will be permanent.

This is not a movie but a true nightmare scenario unfolding right under our noses and eyes.

At a time when the people around the Middle East are offering tremendous sacrifices to overthrow dictatorships America is being forced to embark on a path to become a dictatorship.

December 15 is the national Bill of Rights Day. Americans concerned with protecting the Bill of Rights and the rule of law are coming together on December 15 to address press conferences around the country. This was decided during two telephone conference calls that were held on December 1st and 2nd 2011. They must take the next step and launch a movement to save the Bill of Rights and the constitution. Talks are now underway to form a loose coalition-The  Coalition to Save the Bill of Rights and the Constitution (CSBRC).  

This movement should be a broad-based movement spearheading a multi-faceted and multi-level campaign.  It must invite civil rights and human rights organizations, faith groups and non-faith based groups, lawyers and other professional associations, activists and Americans from all walks of life to come and join this campaign.

It should urge the constitutional experts, legal minds and academicians to write position papers and opeds on this issue of utmost urgency. Representatives of various constituent groups of the coalition must meet with the editorial boards and news producers to gain better news coverage on this battle for the soul of America.

It can have a legal wing, a clergy wing, an activist wing, an academician wing etc of the CSBRC.

It can have state and local CSBRC.  Muslim community which will be the first but not the only target must be an active participant in this coalition.

All these can be worked out later but it is essential that we launch the movement NOW; and this movement be a grassroots and a flexible and loosely structured one. Time is running out for America as the world has known for the last last two centuries and two decades. We need to act now.

They say that democracies die not with a bang but with many whimpers. For too long our basic freedoms have been under attack and are slowly being eroded. Now the enemies of freedom are about to administer the coup de grace.

While these enemies of Freedom and their naive friends and allies are under the arrogant assumption that this usurpation of our liberty is a fait accompli, this dangerous attack on our freedom gives us an opportunity finally to mobilize and launch a counter attack to reverse the usurpation of our rights and roll the impending dictatorship. These dictatorship- lovers might have finally overreached as evident by the slowly but surely small eruptions of protest from all spectra of American society. The left and the right wing organizations are expressing discomfort and fear. Let us bring all these voices together.  The healing of this polarized nation required strong medicine. It required a jolt big enough to awaken us of our apathy and strong enough to make us shed the shackles of fear of the other. This assault on our Bill of Rights by the Darth Vaderian Senators could very well be that clarion jolt.

This effort to save our democracy will require a serious commitment of money, time, talents and other similar resources.  Those who want to live as free Americans must act now just as the founding fathers had done. These should include the Americans from the right and the left and the center.

Dr. Shaik M. Ubaid is a neurologist based in New York.  He is the New York co-chair of the Muslim Peace Coalition USA and the founder of Coalition Against Genocide, a broad-based multi-ethnic and multi-religious coalition.