Tags: Belligerent Act

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