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Bye, bye Section 1021 of the NDAA? Sen. Paul Helps Pass Amendment to Restore Fair Trial *Update*
by Ezra Van Auken
Senator Rand Paul took heat from many of his colleagues including Sen. John McCain who said in a statement, “Sen. Paul has some demands, as usual.” After, the liberty advocate from Kentucky switched methods this week and succeeded in helping pass an amendment that was being sponsored by Sen. Feinstein and Mike Lee from California. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, specifically section 1021, is a provision that allows for the military to indefinitely detain American citizens without fair trial.
Section 1021 calls for any American committing “belligerent” acts to be susceptible to the detention, which in turn made Americans furious for violating their Constitutional rights.
The amendment that passed yesterday, no. 3018, restores the sixth amendment to American citizens and requires any citizen who is being detained by government a right to fair trial by jury. No. 3018 reads, “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.” Results of the vote were not of a slim margin either; the yays got 67 while the nays held onto 29.
On Wednesday before the vote, Sen. Paul enlightened the Senate over the right to trial explaining, “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? When zealots of the government arrest suspects or radicals without warrants, hold them without trial, deny them access to counsel or admission of bail, we have shorn the Bill of Rights of its sanctity.”
Before Sen. Paul decided to co-sponsor the amendment, he worked to force a vote on one of his own that also worked to take down section 1021. Fighting for two weeks, the Kentucky Senator tried to manage a vote and even told Senate he would hold the NDAA bill until his amendment was voted on. Then in a last ditch effort to support the right to fair trial, Sen. Paul co-sponsored Sen. Feinstein’s and Sen. Lee’s amendment.
Moments before the amendment was voted on, Sen. Paul said to Senate, “I want to congratulate my colleagues on even though they appear to sometimes have distain for the trial by jury, now appear to be supporting the trial by jury and I congratulate them on their conversion.”
With the Senate passage of the “Feinstein Amendment,” supporters of due process have been cheering. The media has been reporting the amendment as “ending indefinite detention.” They’re wrong. At best, the amendment is a constitutional fumble by Feinstein – intended to do something good, but with legal holes so wide it will end up causing even more harm. At worst, it’s a head-fake – rosy language intended to distract you from efforts to oppose NDAA detention powers while not only continuing the practice but affirming others at the same time. Blake Filippi’s analysis clears up the fog.
Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, together again. (n.d.). Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News & Analysis. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2012/08/29/mitch-mcconnell-and-rand-paul-together-again/