As noted this morning, a conference committee is expected to remove language passed via the Feinstein-Lee Amendment, protecting Americans against indefinite detention by military without trail.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who voted for the amendment and has been pushing for great protection of civil liberties, just released the following statement. As you can see, Paul does not hide who he blames for the removal of the language protecting the due process rights of Americans:
The decision by the McCain led conference committee to strip the National Defense Authorization Act of the amendment that protects American citizens against indefinite detention now renders the entire NDAA unconstitutional.
The Feinstein-Lee amendment that passed with a 67-29 vote last month was designed to guarantee citizens the right to due process and a jury trial. These are basic and core American legal privileges enshrined in our Bill of Rights and that have been observed since our nation’s founding. Removing these indefinite detention protections now means that NDAA is in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
I voted against NDAA in 2011 because it did not contain the proper constitutional protections. When my senate colleagues voted to include those protections in the 2012 NDAA through the Feinstein-Lee Amendment last month, I supported this act.
But removing those protections now takes us back to square one and does as much violence to the Constitution as last year’s NDAA. 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.
Saying that new language somehow insures the right to Habeas Corpus—the right to be presented before a judge—is both questionable and not enough. Citizens must not only be formally charged but also receive jury trials and the other protections our Constitution guarantees. Habeas Corpus is simply the beginning of Due Process. It is by no means the whole.
Our Bill of Rights is not something that can be cherry-picked at legislators’ convenience. When I entered the United States Senate, I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. It is for this reason that I will strongly oppose passage of the McCain conference report that strips the guarantee to a trial by jury.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much Sen. Paul can do to block conference committee’s version of NDAA other than force a recall vote. In other words, it can’t be filibustered. Unless there is significant shift against the Congress, NDAA will once again pass, indefinite detention intact.