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Bennion reports: "Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced an amendment ... that would protect American citizens from being indefinitely detained."

The flag and barbed wire within a detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. (photo: Getty Images)
The flag and barbed wire within a detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. (photo: Getty Images)

Senators Launch Effort to Strike Indefinite Detention

By Emily Bennion, KCSG

29 November 12


enator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would protect American citizens from being indefinitely detained. The amendment, which is cosponsored by several other Republican and Democratic senators, uses essentially the same language as the Due Process Guarantee Act, which Feinstein and Lee introduced last year. The language of the amendment assures that no authorization to use military force, war declaration, or any similar authority would allow an American apprehended in the United States to be held without charge or trial.

During a discussion of their amendment on the Senate floor today, Sen. Lee said, "Senator Feinstein and I have worked closely together over the course of the past year to craft what we believe represents a very prudent course in protecting both our nation and our liberties at the same time. Security is important, and precisely because it's important, it must not be acquired at the expense of our individual liberty. It may well be said that government's most important basic responsibility is to protect the liberties of its citizens. Our nation has fought wars on American soil and around the world in defense of individual liberty. And we must not sacrifice this most fundamental right in pursuit of greater security, especially when we can achieve security without compromising liberty. The Feinstein-Lee amendment does precisely that.

"We must stand behind our 225-year-old founding document as it's been amended to ensure our liberty isn't taken away from us, to give us a path to providing for our security without jeopardizing the freedom that our American citizens cherish so much and have fought so hard and so long to protect. Granting the United States government the power to deprive its own citizens of life, liberty, or property without full due process of law goes against the very nature of our nation's great constitutional values. This amendment, the Feinstein-Lee amendment, protects those values."

On the floor, Sen. Feinstein explained, "I want to be very clear about what this amendment is and what it's not about. It's not about whether citizens such as [Yaser Esam] Hamdi and [Jose] Padilla or others who would do us harm should be captured, interrogated, incarcerated and severely punished. They should be. But what about an innocent American? What about someone in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong skin color?

"The beauty of our Constitution is that it gives everyone in the United States basic due process rights to a trial by a jury of their peers. That is what makes this nation great. As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the plurality in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, '[A]s critical as the government's interest may be in detaining those who actually pose an immediate threat to the national security of the United States during ongoing international conflict, history and common sense teach us that an unchecked system of detention carries the potential to become a means for oppression and abuse of others who do not present that sort of threat.'

"The federal government experimented with indefinite detention of United States citizens during World War II, a mistake we now recognize as a betrayal of our core values. Let's not repeat it."

The amendment is also sponsored by Senators Paul (R-KY), Coons (D-DE), Collins (R-ME), Lautenberg (D-NNJ), Gillibrand (D-NY), Kirk (D-IL), Tester (D-MT), Johnson (D-SD), Sanders (I-VT), Whitehouse (D-RI), Baucus (D-MT), and Heller (R-NV). your social media marketing partner


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+25 # DPM 2012-11-29 23:18
It's about time. Let's see how far it gets. Color me, skeptical.
+23 # Erdajean 2012-11-29 23:48
Well and good, as far as it goes. But what's to protect an immigrant not yet a citizen, or some other passing-through national who happens to arouse suspicion (easy enough, we've seen)?
The thing is, NOBODY in the territory of this FREE country should be the victim of the horrors that have evolved, in the ugly game of "Homeland Security." There is nothing more a threat to REAL security than the widespread outrage over "indefinite detention" of anyone at all. If we believe in due process, then we believe in it across the board. The bill we NEED to support is Senator Udall's, which addresses this very issue, rather than this half-baked attempt to offend no one -- except the prisoner who just happened to look like that swarthy kind of guy who might "DO something."
+6 # Rascalndear 2012-11-30 02:09
Let's at least start with protecting US citizens, as right now even they have no cover. Once that is in place, the protection can be extended. But it has to be in place, pretty inviolably, in the first instance.
+13 # engelbach 2012-11-30 10:33
The Bill of Rights already protects everyone, including non-citizens and alien visitors.

NDAA is unconstitutiona l, as is the detention of the prisoners at Gitmo and the Patriot Act.

The disgrace is that the SCOTUS has not ruled on them.
+7 # lorenbliss 2012-11-29 23:49
The fact neither Sen. Maria Cantwell nor Sen. Patty Murray are amongst the sponsors says much about how beneath Washington state's seemingly progressive facade, there lurks a decidedly fascist taint, no doubt at least partly the result of economic dependence on imperial war industries.
+5 # wminot 2012-11-29 23:53
Bless them all.
+24 # sdraymond 2012-11-30 00:01
This is a rather biased amendment, as it only includes American citizens. If we truly believe in the defense of individual liberty and due process, then why do we limit individuals to these basic rights to citizens of the United States. We should be guaranteeing these rights to all the citizens of the world if we truly believe in them.
+1 # Dean 2012-11-30 15:21
I am thankful that you said this, and if I had not seen it, I would have expressed myself similarly.
+4 # FDRva 2012-11-30 00:47
I greatly admire Sens. Feinstein & Lee and their respect for human rights.

The Obama Admin, otherwise, seems more like Dick Cheney--and Susan Rice--just looking for a perpetual war--and claiming its about 'human rights.'
+6 # Rascalndear 2012-11-30 02:08
Excellent news! And solidly bipartisan move as well. There is really NO justification in the world for holding a mere "suspect" indefinitely in jail. Start with the fact of what this costs American taxpayers and end the threat it poses to them should the government become even more authoritarian and arbitrary.
+15 # RMDC 2012-11-30 02:44
I'm afraid this is just one more effort to legalize the criminal practice of arresting, torturing, and incarcerating innocent people. There's nothing to reign in the FBI, CIA, or DHS from their sting operations. Take this --

""I want to be very clear about what this amendment is and what it's not about. It's not about whether citizens such as [Yaser Esam] Hamdi and [Jose] Padilla or others who would do us harm should be captured, interrogated, incarcerated and severely punished. They should be. But what about an innocent American? What about someone in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong skin color?"

Why the phrase "those who would do us harm." Why "would do"? Why not just "those who actually do harm." Padilla and Hamdi were and are innocent. They were framed. The military never even said they "did" anything; only that they "would do" harm.

"Would do" is a phrase of deceit. For example, say the CIA bombs your home town with a drone and kills your family. Would you do harm to the CIA if you could? Yes, you would. But you could not. You don't have the means or the opportunity. The FBI and military fabricated the means and opportunity. All you have is the intention -- the "would." The US gives lots of people good reasons to wish or intend harm to the US. The right bill "would" have changed US foreign policy. It would have stopped the practice of creating enemies.
+3 # engelbach 2012-11-30 10:34
+9 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-11-30 04:04
Let's take off the blinders, folks. The oh so brave and determined and exceptional journalists, whistleblowers, and a member of Iceland's parliament, the Hon. Brigitta Jonsditter, have, when filing the 'case of the century' Hedges, et. al. v. Obama, et. al., taken on the attempt to pull rule of law from the toilet, before said rule is flushed away.

The Hon. Jonsditter, a supporter and protector of Wikileaks' Julian Assange, was cautioned by Icelanders to not come to the U.S. this past March, for the initial hearing in this so vital case. The hearing was the Plaintiff's motion for temporary restraining order on this year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) article which instates this egregious indefinite detention with no due process flushing away of our basic, vital rights.

And, why would Icelanders be so concerned? With good reason. The Hon. Jonsdottir, in her support and protection of truthteller Assange, could, like Assange, be deemed a 'terrorist', and become victim of the very arrest without charges and indefinite detention in question.

So, instead of traveling to New York's Federal Dist. Court for the hearing, a deposition was planned, wherein both sides could question the M.P. in Iceland, and enter said depo. into evidence. But, guess what! Formal objection came from our Sect. State Hillary Clinton re. said depo. being entered into evidence. Clinton's motion granted.
+18 # RMDC 2012-11-30 04:29
Sen. Lee -- "Our nation has fought wars on American soil and around the world in defense of individual liberty."

The level of self-delusion that prevails in the senate is just intolerable. The USG has been engages in well over 200 wars in its 225 year history. None of these were for the defense of "individual liberty." They were all wars of empire, conquest, and colonial suppression. They were all -- as Smedely Butler says -- wars to make the world safe for capital investment.

But Feinstein's self-delusion is even worse. By repeating the propgaganda slogan "those who would do us harm," she is criminalizing dissent. The people she wants to indict and imprison don't want to do "us" (i.e., the american people) harm. they want to do harm to US (i.e., the US government or military). There's a huge difference. Those doing the most harm to "us" are the banks and ruling elite. They are not being prosecuted because they ARE the US (government).

Anyone who is flatly against the policies of the USG and wishes to change them is a threat to US -- doing US harm. Feinstein is criminalizing intentions, wishes, desires. When Obama drops a bomb on a village in Yemen, the people there naturally and rightly have hostile intentions or feelings against the US. They have no means to retaliate but they sure as hell feel like it. And they should feel that way. IT is these feelings that Feinstein wants to crimialize.
+3 # engelbach 2012-11-30 10:35
I agree with everything you say.
+2 # cordleycoit 2012-11-30 04:42
Suddenly the lights came on and the danger of coup from the Generals was enough to get lawmakers in the mood to do the people's business. These are hopeful signs of life in the Senate. Our lives and rights are on the line.
+11 # medusa 2012-11-30 07:20
An amendment is proposed whose purpose is to assert that our constitution ought to be our constitution. Do we need a series of new amendments to enact the Bill of Rights as well? Habeas Corpus?
Perhaps it will expose the rats on the awning.
+6 # Trueblue Democrat 2012-11-30 07:45
"The beauty of our Constitution is that it gives everyone in the United States basic due process rights to a trial by a jury of their peers."

Why do we need legislation that mirrors provisions of the US Constitution? If that improbable ass in the White House can ignore the Bill of Rights, he sure as hell can ignore some recently passed law -- if he doesn't just kill it with a veto.
+5 # Vardoz 2012-11-30 08:27
Didn't a judge in NY just strike this down when challenged by Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky? Or does that ruling mean nothing?
+7 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-11-30 09:01
Yes, the judge in the Hedges et. al. v Obama et. al. case did, in May, rule in the plaintiff's favor. Her honor was escorted from the court and courthouse by security guards (I've been told, Navy Seals) following her so just, brave and correct ruling in plaintiff's favor. Says a lot, does it not?
+7 # walt 2012-11-30 08:27
Reason at last prevails!

Passing legislation that allowed the US military authority over American civilians was a disgrace and definitely must be amended. I would also suggest that an apology be issued to all Americans for this outrageous law.

Even worse was President Obama signing the bill and then earlier this year fighting when it was declared unconstitutiona l by a federal court challenge by Chris Hedges and others.

America needs to pay close attention to Congress at all times as they legislate so many things affecting our lives. This was one of those times.

Now let's see if the Patriot Act, drone attacks, and unreasonable search and seizure (as with NYPD) can be taken on.
+5 # Phlippinout 2012-11-30 09:58
Yes, before they start droning our homes for disagreeing!
+3 # futhark 2012-11-30 10:06
If this bill passes, it will be interesting to see what happens to it at the desk of the main proponent of "preventive detention", Barack Hussein Obama (reference: nationally televised speech of May 22, 2009, given at the National Archives, Washington, DC).
+6 # PastorEd 2012-11-30 10:24
We must recognize the "rule of law" on which our nation is built.

Our Constitution requires that a citizen NOT be held without warrant indefinitely.
The same statement is made for all mankind in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the U.N. The U.S. Congress also - ALREADY - has embraced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights terms.

Even if held as military prisoners, they are humans who deserve to be charged or released, and if charged; they should receive fair trial.
+6 # engelbach 2012-11-30 10:30
The Constitution already prohibits indefinite detention without charge or trial. And it applies not just to American citizens, but to all "persons."
+5 # Rick Mason 2012-11-30 10:39
This is 11 years overdue. The circumstanses used to allow the Nazi administration of George W. Bush to get the Patriot Act implimented, the 9/11 false flag event, was a bald faced lie invented to create the parameters neccessary for our corrupt government to start dismanteling our Constitution, take away our guns and freedoms and get us mad enough at the Middle East to go to war in Iraq and Afganistan. If you people still believe the absurd story we were told after 9/11, I beg you to grow some balls and do the research you need to find the truth. The most obvious thing that should make you question the "official" story is that in this universe it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE for those towers, which were designed to withstand multiple impacts from aircraft much heavier than 767s, to "collapse" the way and as fast as they did. This is not my opinion, it's an emperical scientific fact! The false flag events of 9/11 were the beginning of the end of our freedom in America, and unless we as a united people DEMAND a real investigation with subpeona powers and find the real perpetrators, we are doomed to have our corrupt government continue lying to us and denying us our constitutional rights.Please research 9/11 Truth and get as mad as I am and spread the truth to everyone you can....our nation's future and your freedom depends on it! 9/11 was, and still is the biggest deception of an entire nation's people since Hitler.
0 # Kathymoi 2012-11-30 19:28
It's got my vote.
+5 # dbriz 2012-11-30 21:24
Feinstein has been FOR every anti-civil liberties legislation since 9-11.

What makes anyone think she's changed now?

There is a hole a mile wide in this amendment. Just more smoke and mirrors to pacify the gullible.

The Patriot Act and NDAA are extraconstituti onal and should be repealed.
+3 # Malcolm 2012-11-30 22:07
Wow; no "thumbs down" red numbers today! Have some demos become enlightened about the democratic prez, and the democratic legislators (most of them) at last? In the past, ANY NEGATIVE statements like these would have been rewarded with -40 -50 etc.

Or have the Democratic Party flag wavers simply not shown up yet?

Thanks to all of you brave souls!
-2 # sdraymond 2012-12-01 01:14
Like most of us "Democratic flag wavers", we know that Obama is not perfect and that his drone war, continuation of the drug war and reticence to close Guantanamo prison are unconscionable. ...and good reason to criticize this president. However, in this last election, there was no perfect alternative and the realistic choice we had was between a man who generally supports Gay rights, women's rights, health care, etc and a man who supports none of those things.

Now that the election is over, those of us who are "Democratic flag wavers" are joining the ranks of the opposition. Hence, I believe that is why there are no thumbs down.

I have known Diane Feinstein personally since the mid '70s when I worked together with her on projects to improve the lives of those living in the San Francisco tenderloin district. Although she has some good ideas from time to time, her gut instincts are not progressive and this bill is an example.

Again, I believe that what Diane has created is not valid unless it covers the individual rights of every human being. As many others have pointed out in this conversation, American citizens are already purportedly protected by the constitution and such a bill is not necessary for us.

If Diane had any balls, she would be writing a bill that protects all citizens of the world, not just the privileged few who are American citizens.
+1 # futhark 2012-12-02 10:25
Funny things about your comments sdraymond:

1. For someone who has known Dianne Feinstein personally for over 30 years, I would think that you should know how to spell her first name correctly, especially when it is right there in front of you in the article.

2. There were other choices than the mainstream party marionettes of the military industrial complex and surveillance state apparatus, which is why I proudly cast my vote for Dr. Jill Stein. Not realistic, you say? The same could be said of voting for Republican John C. Fremont in 1856 when the Republican Party stood mainly for extending slavery into the western states. In choices between good and evil, always vote for good over even the lesser evil.

3. The way things are now set up for California elections, voters who have been alienated by the political duopoly are disenfranchised for offices other than the presidency. The "open primary" procedure is a failure and should be repealed. I couldn't stomach voting for either of the Senatorial candidates, so left that one blank for the first time in my 40 year voting life. I'm tired of the hot and cold positions of Dianne Feinstein. She does not deserve a life tenure in the Senate or even an overwhelming mandate in an election.
+1 # Surflar 2012-12-01 20:00
How does this cr..p pass in the first place!!!!

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