Credit: Gage Skidmore

Sen. Mike Lee Leads Coalition to Ban Indefinite Detention Without a Trial, Restore Bill of Rights

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The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), still in effect today, was passed and signed into law containing provisions allowing for the indefinite detention of American citizens without due process. A new bipartisan effort being spearheaded by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) would restore 6th Amendment of the Constitution.

“America should never waver in vigilantly pursuing those who would commit, or plot to commit, acts of treason against our country,” Lee said in press release about the bill. “But the federal government should not be allowed to indefinitely imprison any American on the mere accusation of treason without affording them the due process guaranteed by our Constitution.”

The Due Process Guarantee Act was introduced last week by Lee and fellow primary sponsor Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Chris Coons (D-DE) have signed onto the bill as co-sponsors as well.

Indefinite detention has been an issue since it was codified into law by the 2012 NDAA. Provisions were buried within thousands of pages of tedious legalese that essentially revoked the 6th Amendment of the Constitution. The document allows government officials to “detain covered persons” if they “substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners” to be detained “under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.”

The vague terminology creates an open-ended mandate for authoritarian rulers to punish political dissidents with limitless extrajudicial incarceration. A Constitutional Republic simply cannot stand with laws like the 2012 NDAA on the books.

“The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield,” ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero said in 2011 after the bill was signed into law by former President Obama.

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