NDAA Passes House, Indefinite Detention Still in Statute


While the nation was fully focused on the NSA scandals and Edward Snowden, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014. Republicans who voted no on H. R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, included Rep. Justin Amash (MI-03),and Rep. Thomas Massie (KY-04).

Out of the nearly 200 NDAA amendments introduced to the House for voting, only one could have prevented the mandatory military custody of an American citizen without charge or trial: the Smith-Gibson Amendment would eliminate the indefinite military detention of any person taken into custody under the authority of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). This amendment failed by receiving 200 ayes and 226 nays. Out of the 226 votes in opposition to this article, 213 came from Republican congressmen.

Through the NDAA, the U.S. Congress determines how much of the budget can be dedicated to military spending. With the passing of the NDAA of 2014, Congress kept policies that have been in effect since the Bush administration without challenging the request for $614 million required for military construction and civilian infrastructure projects for Guam.

According to news sources, the NDAA also included a measure that would maintain all currently military bases open and would ensure troops would receive a pay increase of 1.8 percent. Super labs such as Rober Laboratory, which is a research and technology lab run by the Air Force, gets at least a $33 million boost in funding thanks to the NDAA.

While Congress failed to manage the budget, members also failed to consider provisions that would push for the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

The majority of GOP lawmakers preferred to overlook the language that allows for the military to lawfully hold you under detention without due process of law: a problem for those who still look up to the Republican Party for a full repeal of legislation that threatens civil liberties. According to Rep. Justin Amash, lawmakers “affirmed [indefinite detention] in statute for the first time” with the NDAA of 2014.

Interestingly enough, an amendment addressing the use of drones to kill American citizens passed. It prohibits the use of a drone to target an American unless they are effectively and actively engaged in combat against the United States.

Congressmen who voted yes on the Smith-Gibson Amendment, which could have protected your right to due process, included: Justin Amash (MI-03), Kerry Bentivolio (MI-11), Paul Broun (GA-10), John Duncan (TN-02), Chris Gibson (NY-19), Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Tim Huelskamp (KS-01), Walter Jones (NC-03), Raúl Labrador (ID-01), Thomas Massie (KY-04), Tom McClintock (CA-04), Tom Petri (WI-06), Bill Posey (FL-08), Reid Ribble (WI-08), Mark Sanford (SC-01), John Shimkus (IL-05), Scott Tipton (CO-03), and Ted Yoho (FL-03).

Hidden within the NDAA is the Kelly Amendment, which also passed. This particular article would authorize the release of funds that would then be used to execute the UN Arms Treaty, but only after the President of the United States signed the agreement, the Senate has expressed its position on the issue and Congress has been appointed with the task of preparing legislation accordingly.

The problem here is that the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, its provisions and amendments do little to address real national security concerns. The President continues to laugh our civil liberties away while putting an end to habeas corpus.

So long as lawmakers aren’t ready to quit siding with those willing to give more power to the executive branch, our rights will continue to be held hostage in the name of abstract security.

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