The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for this year has now passed the House of Representatives with a 315-107 vote. Eager to return home before Christmas, the House did not seem willing to delve into the debate about indefinite detainment of American citizens, which seems to have been authorized in the last two versions of the bill. Language specifically included to prevent the detainment of American citizens suspected of terrorism was removed before the bill passed the Senate 81-14. According to an article by the Daily Caller, the following amendment was removed from the bill before passage:
An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention.
Again, to be clear, this passage was removed from the bill in its final form. To some the above amendment still went to far towards trampling the bill of rights, since it would still allow Congress to authorize such illegal detentions by passing a bill. Never the less, the amendment was seen as a palatable compromise by advocates of personal freedom on each side of the aisle. Senator McCain, who lead the conference committee which removed the above passage, claims that the bill does not allow for the indefinite detainment of Americans, and said that the legislation cannot nullify the rights to habeas corpus. Senator Rand Paul and his allies however, claim otherwise. (The link in the following quotation is my own).
Several Republicans aligned with Paul spoke out against the bill. “The NDAA violates fundamental rights recognized since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 A.D.,” said Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie in a statement. “This bill ignores principles central to American liberty… I couldn’t in good conscience vote for the NDAA while simultaneously upholding my oath to defend the Constitution.”
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner, and Texas Rep. Ralph Hall were also among the GOP no votes.
All four Republicans recently relieved of their preferred committee assignments by the House leadership — Amash, Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Arizona Rep. David Schweikert and North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones — also voted no.
Last year when President Obama signed the 2012 version of the NDAA he seemed to admit that it included the powers to detain American citizens without trial, but promised not to use it. As he signed the bill, he said that his administration would not authorize the detainment of any American citizen without due process, yet the administration has since taken every legal opportunity to defend the clause allowing for indefinite detainment of citizens suspected of terrorism. Sections 1021 and 1022 were the passages in the 2012 NDAA which allowed for the indefinite detainment of American citizens, in America, suspected of terrorism. The 2013 version has passed, and will include the same unconstitutional authorization.