My Thoughts on the Feinstein-Lee Amendment to the NDAA

I met with cadets this week and they asked me about, ‘what is the freedom we fight for?’ The freedom we fight for is the Bill of Rights, it is the Constitution. If we have careless disregard for the Constitution, what are we fighting for? 

I think this is a very serious debate and should not be made frivolous. This is an ancient right that we have defended for 800 years, for goodness sakes. To say that habeas is due process is absurd. It’s the beginning of due process. If you don’t have a right to trial by jury, you do not have due process. You do not have a Constitution. What are you fighting against and for if you throw the Constitution out? If you throw the Sixth Amendment out? It’s in the body of our Constitution. It’s in the Bill of Rights. It’s in every constitution in the United States. For goodness sakes, the trial by jury has been a long-standing and ancient and noble right. For goodness sakes, let’s not scrap it now.

- Senator Rand Paul

So last night, the United States Senate passed the Feinstein-Lee Amendment, AKA “the Prohibition on the Indefinite Detention of Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents.”  The vote was overwhelming with a margin of victory of 67-29.  Ever since this passed there has been considerable debate as to whether it is a huge victory for Liberty against the horrific NDAA, or just a ruse that accomplishes nothing and in fact makes things even worse.  Overall, my conclusion is that this amendment is nothing to be cheered.

Here is actual text from the Amendment:

“An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention.”

Come again?  Congress is not permitted to pass laws that are unconstitutional. This is very basic so I find it bizarre that this last sentence would be inserted in the Amendment if they were truly trying to achieve their stated purpose.  Clearly, it is also as a result of that last line that they were able to pass it so easily, with authoritarian thugs such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham voting for it.

There are other concerns as well, specifically the fact that it singles out citizens and lawful permanent residents rather than all persons.  This issue has been covered here at the ACLU and here at the Belligerent Act site.

All that said, there is one small silver lining to all of this.  Despite the horrific flaws mentioned above, I do think it is positive that this debate continues to rage and that Congress was forced to address it.  Had the public not been vigilant about the NDAA, it would have just passed without a peep, yet they are being forced to publicly debate this, which they’d certainly prefer not to do.

Keep fighting fellas.

In Liberty,
Mike

13 thoughts on “My Thoughts on the Feinstein-Lee Amendment to the NDAA

  1. “Authoritarian thugs like John McCain and Lindsay Graham”.

    Gotta give you credit Mike for calling a spade a spade.

    I think this is a good victory, but I’m not sure it’ll mean much in the long run. Obama can get away with this and much more via executive order, e.g. NDRP (13603).

  2. Thank you sir. Yeah, upon further reflection I think the intent from the good players behind this was to make it clear detention of citizens without trial is NOT allowed and so now they need to go pass a law to try to do it. Just creates another step to take and another round of public debate…ideally. Better than nothing and shows the public can get a response if they just make enough of a stink. People don’t understand their own power yet and still feel helpless and that is the problem.

  3. So the US Congress can over rule the Constitution? The ‘Founding Fathers’ could not have ever in their worst nightmares, have seen this one coming! And if you are not a US citizen or entered the country ‘illegally’ you have no rights under the US Constitution, and the US is meant to be the ‘Democracy’ that everyone is supposed to look up to?

  4. Mike: keep thinking and posting. As information overload is changing fundamentally our society and culture and people are wont to take the first solution – not always the best one but usually the quickest one – to their problems we all need help in getting to the truth and selecting the right decision. Wide distribution of comments such as these helps bring tha truth to our citizenry. Let us use the same engine of destructive change in our society to help all find balance and knowledge to know what is correct, what are your rights, and understanding that freedom like power unexercised fades away.

  5. Our schooling (education? hardly) and popular culture propaganda give people no guide posts to understand the danger of such anti-constitutional legislation. Keep up the good fight, Mike.

  6. “Authoritarian thugs like John McCain and Lindsay Graham”.+1 Aziz. My gf is a lawyer and she isn’t eve familiar NDAA. They are nothing but thugs in every sense of the word.

  7. I’m more inclined to agree with Naomi Wolf on this:

    The few other journalists who have actually been following this story closely agree with the activists, and the American Civil Liberties Union has also chimed in, saying that the amendment actually makes indefinite detention more likely.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/05/feinstein-amendment-ndaa-assault-constitutional-rights?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+theguardian%2Fcommentisfree%2Frss+%28Comment+is+free%29

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