Indefinite Detention and the NDAA

Should our government be able to indefinitely detain and deny a trial to American citizens suspected of a crime? Given the Constitutional guarantee of due process, that question could seem a bit absurd. Yet late last year the House and Senate gave us new provisions in the NDAA, one of which is the allowance of indefinite detention of American citizens.

This isn’t some heavy handed attack on freedom levied by the Democrats. It’s not even some measure that passed narrowly in the House before Harry Reid forced it on us in the Senate. No, this attack on freedom carries much bipartisan support. Both Republicans and Democrats support this insanity.

You can see the House’s roll call on the 2012 NDAA here and the Senate’s roll call on it here.

Last month I wrote a piece about Justin Amash, the Congressman from Michigan who is fighting to fix the indefinite detention provisions in the NDAA. Amash has been outspoken on this issue, and his time to fight is coming soon.

The answer to Amash’s concerns over the 2012 NDAA was to reinforce habeas corpus “for any person who is detained in the United States.” Though that sounds pretty good, Amash addresses this answer in a letter to his Republican colleagues:

That sounds like an effective solution until you realize that no one believes habeas has been suspended. The Bush and Obama administrations haven’t claimed that habeas has been suspended. The Supreme Court stated unambiguously in 2004, “All agree suspension of the writ has not occurred here.” As Justice Scalia recognized, the Afghanistan AUMF “is not remotely a congressional suspension of the writ [of habeas corpus], and now one claims that it is.”

Amash, along with Representative Adam Smith, has an amendment for the 2013 NDAA, which the House will begin working on this week. The Smith-Amash amendment will guarantee due process for anyone arrested inside the United States under the Afghanistan AUFM or the NDAA. It requires the government to make its case against a detainee in front of a judge – you know, as the Constitution requires.

Support of the Smith-Amash amendment is a no-brainer. Call your Congressman today. It’s crucial that this amendment be passed so that the indefinite detention problems with the NDAA can be resolved.

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