Congress still okay with indefinite detention and torture of Americans
An attempt to strike down any provisions allowing for the US military to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge from next year’s National Defense Authorization Act was shot down Friday morning in the House of Representatives.
Following discussions on an amendment to the 2013 NDAA that was proposed by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan), House lawmakers opted against passing the law by a vote of 182-238. Had the Smish-Amash amendment passed, military detention for terror suspects captured in the US would have been excluded in the annual defense spending bill. Provisions that allows for that power, Sections 1021 and 1022, were inserted into the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2012. President Barack Obama signed that legislation on New Year’s Eve, essentially authorizing the US Armed Forces to detain Americans indefinitely at military facilities over only allegation of ties with terrorists and subject them to enhanced interrogation tactics on par with torture.
On Thursday night, Rep. Amash took to his Facebook page to address the amendment with his followers. “No matter how much I am slandered or my positions are demagogued, I will NEVER stop fighting to defend your liberty and the Constitution,” wrote the congressman.
Back on Capitol Hill, Rep. Amash circulated a document to his fellow lawmakers on Thursday outlining his proposed amendment. In urging his colleagues to vote yes on the Smith-Amash amendment, the representative from Michigan explained to Congress that the proposal would offer protection to non-citizens of the United States and is the only amendment up for discussion that would guarantee Americans a charge and trial.
Elsewhere in the paper, Rep. Amash harped on a decision out of a federal court earlier this week that ruled that the NDAA violated the US Constitution.
“Our constituents demand that we protect their right to a charge and a trial — especially after the NDAA was ruled unconstitutional this week,” wrote Rep. Amash.
That decision came Wednesday when United States District Judge Katherine Forrest shunned the NDAA’s indefinite detention provision, saying it had a "chilling impact on First Amendment rights.”
"An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so,” wrote Judge Forrest, who then cited complaints for American journalists who were concerned that they’d be imprisoned without charge solely for speaking with alleged terrorists.
Attorney Carl Mayer represented the plaintiffs in this case and spoke with RT after Judge Forrest’s decision. Mr. Mayer revealed that while the Obama administration can — and most likely will — file an appeal, “we are suggesting that it may not be in their best interest because there are so many people from all sides of the political spectrum opposed to this law.”
Weighing in with RT after the defeat of the Smith-Amash amendment on Friday, Mr. Mayer added, “I can’t imagine why the Congress is doing this other than they are scoring cheap political points—they think — with their constituents because they want to be seen as tough on terror, when, in fact, what they are doing is undermining 200 years of American civil liberties law.”
Although that opposition has indeed been widespread since even before this year’s NDAA was signed by President Obama on December 31, it was absent on Capitol Hill this Friday when the Smith-Amash amendment was shot down.
Moments before the amendment went up for vote, Rep. Amash wrote on Facebook, “We know the NDAA's detention provision is unconstitutional. The House will vote on one substantive solution.”
“Will we fix it? And if we don't, how will we explain that to our constituents?”