Congress Drops Feinstein Amendment to NDAA

There is now nothing in the bill that prevents the indefinite detention of US citizens

by John Glaser, December 19, 2012

A Congressional committee has eliminated a provision the Senate passed earlier this year in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act which aimed to prevent US citizens from being detained indefinitely without charge or trial.

“Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) announced the removal of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s indefinite detention amendment Tuesday afternoon,” reported Josh Gerstein at Politico.

Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act last year, which includes provisions codifying indefinite detention for individuals suspected of allying with or supporting al-Qaeda or its affiliates, although the language is quite vague.

There was and is serious disagreement about how much the Feinstein amendment accomplished, with many arguing it didn’t do enough to explicitly guarantee that the indefinite detention provisions in the bill did not apply to US citizens because it essentially deferred to the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which many including Senator Levin claim permits the government to indefinitely detain US citizens.

But now that the language has been dropped, there is little to get in the way of the NDAA’s indefinite detention provisions.

Senator Rand Paul, who supported the Feinstein amendment, released a statement condemning the committee decision to have it removed.

“[R]emoving those protections now takes us back to square one and does as much violence to the Constitution as last year’s NDAA,” Paul said in a statement. “When government can arrest suspects without a warrant, hold them without trial, deny them access to counsel or admission of bail, we have shorn the Bill of Rights of its sanctity.”

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