Constable wants tougher stance on US defense act
SUNBURY - A constable in the city's ninth ward involved in an organization against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) doesn't think city council has gone far enough to protect its citizens in the event the federal government abuses its power.
Ed Quiggle, state team leader for People Against the NDAA (PANDA) Pennsylvania and local team leader for the Sunbury chapter, recently challenged the city to pass an ordinance stating local law enforcement and city officials would not cooperate with federal agents evoking sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA, which deals with allowing the indefinite detention of American citizens suspected of terrorism.
The American Civil Liberties Union describe the 2012 NDAA as "codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA's dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president - and all future presidents - to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield," it continues. "The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally."
Quiggle made it a written policy last May that he would not cooperate with this portion of the NDAA in his position as constable.
The city did pass a resolution on Feb. 25, but it doesn't go as far as Quiggle wanted.
The resolution states the city supports the Constitution, that citizens are concerned with the overreach of the federal government and that members of council have taken an oath to support and defend the U.S. and state constitutions.
Further, council members ask through the resolution for U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11, to introduce, support and secure the passage of legislation within the NDAA that will guarantee all citizens the "unalienable rights guaranteed to us under the U.S. Constitution."
It was approved on a 3-0 vote with Mayor David Persing and Councilmen Joseph Bartello III and James Eister voting in favor. Councilmen Todd Snyder and Kevin Troup were not at the meeting.
While Quiggle is critical, Eister said the resolution is sufficient and he doesn't expect any suspected terrorists to be in Sunbury.
"I'm not going to comment on 'what if?' I won't live long enough to see it," he said.
There are no terrorist groups in Sunbury and the federal government is not going to start hauling people out of the city for no reason, Eister said.
On the night the resolution was passed, Mayor David Persing told citizen journalist and PANDA member Anthony Antonello that he didn't think the day would ever come when the federal government would be looking for a terrorist in the city.
"When the time comes when someone is in here with the federal government and wants to do something, we'll deal with that at the time. To say blankly that you'll never help the federal government because they'll come in your town with a terrorist running around the streets, for example, would be senseless," he said in a video on Antonello's YouTube channel.
The mayor said the city would deal with such actions if it ever happens.
Antonello told Persing that PANDA is worried the definition of terrorist is broad and could be considered a slippery slope.
The mayor responded, "You're asking me to commit to something that I don't think will ever happen in the city of Sunbury."
Quiggle said it's not good enough.
"Things like this have already happened. Japanese-Americans, Italian-Americans and German-Americans have been detained in World War II. I don't see why they would say it hasn't happened here when it already has," Quiggle said.
In the Sunbury chapter of PANDA, Quiggle said there are approximately 30 people, and they plan to petition Sunbury to pass a better resolution, to approach the Northumberland County Board of Commissioners with the same resolution and work with state legislators.
According to Quiggle, the county commissioners of Elk County and Fulton County have already passed a resolution against the NDAA.