In Congress, Dem and GOPer Working Together to Change the NDAA
Wed, May 09, 2012
Source: Mother Jones
Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) want to ensure everyone in the United States gets a fair trial.
By Adam Serwer
With Congress getting ready to assemble the next big defense authorization bill, two House members are coming together across party lines to ensure that everyone arrested in the United States—even suspected terrorists—gets a fair trial.
Last year, during the fight over the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress debated legalizing indefinite detention for American citizens suspected of working with Al Qaeda, ultimately deciding to dodge the issue. Now Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) are planning to offer an amendment to this year's defense authorization bill that would guarantee that no one—citizen or otherwise—could be denied a fair trial if captured in the United States. Smith, who is the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, will introduce the bill during a hearing Wednesday. Amash has agreed to support it once the defense bill comes to the floor next week, possibly bringing along enough Republican support to ensure its passage in the House.
"The amendment is drafted to prevent the president from indefinitely detaining persons captured on US soil without charge or trial," said Will Adams, a spokesperson for Amash.
Smith and Amash's effort comes amid a bipartisan backlash against indefinite detention that has already produced legislation on the state level. Republican-dominated legislatures in Arizona, Maine, and Virginia have passed anti-NDAA legislation. Proponents of indefinite detention argue that Congress' 2001 authorization of the use of military force against Al Qaeda and the Taliban permits the indefinite detention without trial of American citizens, even those apprehended in the United States. But the Supreme Court has not definitively ruled on the issue. Opponents counter that indefinite detention of American citizens in the United States is unconstitutional.
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