Around this time last year, Congress passed and the White House signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. This ordinarily routine house-keeping legislation was controversial for a few different reasons, but shady language dealing with indefinite detention of anyone merely suspected of terrorist activity — including American citizens.
Last month, the United States Senate adopted an amendment to the NDAA offered by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) that would have limited the federal government’s ability to detain American citizens.
Unfortunately, the New York Times reported last night that the Feinstein-Lee Amendment, which easily cleared the Senate, will be dropped in the conference committee version of the NDAA:
Lawmakers charged with merging the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act decided on Tuesday to drop a provision that would have explicitly barred the military from holding American citizens and permanent residents in indefinite detention without trial as terrorism suspects, according to Congressional staff members familiar with the negotiations.
The Senate approved that amendment — sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Mike Lee, Republican of Utah — in a surprise vote last month. While it appeared to be a rare step to bolster protections for domestic civil liberties, rights groups opposed it because it did not cover other categories of people so they feared that it would implicitly open the door to using the military for domestic police purposes.
That is disappointing, but not surprising.
Sources tell me that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has been a strong advocate of civil liberties and supported the Feinstein-Lee Amendment, plans to oppose the NDAA when it’s brought to the floor for a final vote.