H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization (NDAA)
The NDAA is an annual piece of legislation that addresses the full scope of defense and national security issues. From procuring weapons systems, other military equipment, and setting pay and benefits for Armed Forces this annual authorization is the primary check that Congress can apply to the Executive Branch regarding defense and national security policy. The House Committee on Armed Services report, describing this legislation can be viewed here.
Some people have been led to believe that the NDAA for FY 2012 gave the President the authority to detain American citizens on U.S. soil without trial, however this is not true. You can read my newsletter about the NDAA for FY 2012 here. Had citizens right been in jeopardy, I would have vote no on last year's bill without hesitation. In order to make it perfectly clear that people's rights are protected in this year's act I made sure the detainee provisions within the FY 2013 NDAA (see below) do not allow for the detention of any person in the United States without the right of redress and reassured that all Americans have access to the Writ of Habeas Corpus:
SEC. 1033. Habeas Corpus Rights: Nothing in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) or the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112–81) shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution for any person who is detained in the United States pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note).
Additionally, Rep. Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. Landry (R-LA) and Rep. Rigell (R-VA) introduced an Amendment (text shown below) clarifying Sec. 1033 (shown above) that no citizen's constitutional rights will be denied or abridged in an Article III court pursuant to the Authorizing for Use of Military Force resolution passed by Congress in 2001.
Page 366, line 16, strike ''HABEAS CORPUS RIGHTS'' and insert ''RIGHTS UNAFFECTED''.
Page 366, line 17, strike ''Nothing'' and insert ''(a) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing''.
Page 366, line 21, insert ''or to deny any Constitutional rights'' after ''habeas corpus''.
Page 366, line 23, strike ''person who is detained in the United States'' and insert ''person who is lawfully in the United States when detained''
Page 366, line 25, insert ''and who is otherwise entitled to the availability of such writ or such rights'' before the period.
Page 366, after line 25, insert the following: (b) NOTIFICATION OF DETENTION OF PERSONS UNDER AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.—Not later than 48 hours after the date on which a person who is lawfully in the United States is detained
The best way to protect our rights is to put language in the NDAA that clearly and concisely lays those rights out. Between the new language in the base bill and the Gohmert/Landry/Rigell Amendment, I am confident we have done that.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-MA) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) have a competing amendment. Their amendment extends constitutional protections beyond U.S. citizens to any terrorist who is captured in the United States. Their overbroad language grants illegal alien terrorists more rights than our men and women serving in uniform. I cannot support this unsafe policy.
I share the concerns of legal experts who worry that by granting terrorists greater rights if they are captured in America than if they are captured overseas, we are actually giving terrorists a profound incentive to attack us here at home. For more information on the bad precedent set by the Smith/Amash Amendment please see the following article from the Heritage Foundation about this issue.
The base language strengthened by the Gohmert/Landry/Rigell approach is the better alternative. It protects our constitutional rights, and does not create and incentive for terrorist to come to America. It restates and actually strengthens the rights of all citizens of the United States of America.
The oath of office I took when I was sworn in reaffirms my continued commitment to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, and I work hard every day to ensure that all citizens' constitutional rights are protected.