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Ranking Member Smith Seeks to Preserve Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights

Press Release

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Location: Washington, DC

As the House Armed Services Committee moves to markup the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act this week, Ranking Member Adam Smith will propose an amendment (text) designed to correct existing law and restore due process rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

Current law, as stipulated by the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), allows the President of the United States to indefinitely detain an individual apprehended in the United States -- including citizens of the United States - without due process and with little independent review or oversight. It also permits the use of military commissions for these same individuals. This is still a frightening amount of power and it is counter to the rights enshrined in the United States Constitution.

"While I applaud the inclusion of language in the National Defense Authorization Act that restates current law as it applies to Habeas Corpus, we must do more to protect civil liberties," said Ranking Member Adam Smith. "Current law gives the executive branch too much power. My amendment will change existing law to ensure all due process rights enshrined in the Constitution are guaranteed to individuals detained on US soil and clarify that the only options for anyone detained in the United States pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) are Article III courts. It strictly prohibits military commissions and indefinite detention."

If adopted, the amendment will ensure that any individual detained under the Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) on U.S. soil has access to due process and the federal court system; prohibit military commissions and indefinite detention for individuals detained in the United States and affirm that any trial proceedings "shall have all the due process as provided for under the Constitution."

In March of this year, Ranking Member Smith and Senator Mark Udall introduced legislation to address this issue. The amendment offered by Smith on Wednesday will be in the spirit of this legislation.


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