Release: May 18, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) inserted the below statement into the Congressional Record of the U.S. House of Representatives regarding the Smith-Amash amendment of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The bipartisan amendment would have struck provisions enacted in the same law for Fiscal Year 2012 that empowered the president to indefinitely detain American citizens without due process of the law.
“Last year, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 that granted unprecedented powers to the president, including ability to indefinitely detain without trial American citizens suspected of terrorism. I strongly opposed this provision and voted against passage of the entire Act.
“On December 15, 2011, after the bill had passed, I spoke on the House floor condemning these dangerous and unnecessary measures. I was concerned that our civil liberties would erode if we leave the interpretation of the law to the commander-in-chief. As we continue our counter-terrorism efforts at home and abroad, we are leaving enormous leeway to the current president, the next president, and the president after that to gather intelligence and detain individuals without charge or trial.
“Today, government surveillance is more intrusive than ever. Congress, which once seemed poised to shut Guantánamo Bay, has instead passed bipartisan law after law ensuring its indefinite operations. In my district, the Seattle Police Department recently acquired surveillance drones, but no policies have yet been drafted to guide their use. It is not clear whether these drones will be used only to collect evidence on specific crimes or become an invasive, all-encompassing surveillance operation without proper oversight.
“This week, we’re voting on the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2013, and the House had an opportunity to challenge some of these far-reaching provisions in current law.
“Earlier this morning, I voted for the Smith-Amash amendment to the FY13 NDAA, which would strike Section 1022 of the FY12 NDAA and amend Section 1021 to eliminate indefinite military detention of those detained in the United States. In short, this amendment would explicitly ban any president or government official from ordering the military to place anyone in the country into indefinite detention without charge or trial. It also reaffirms due process protections for all persons within the United States.
“I am deeply
disappointed that this bipartisan amendment did not get enough votes to be
adopted into the FY13 NDAA.”
Follow McDermott on Twitter: @RepJimMcDermott.