At a press conference today, Mark Udall unveiled legislation to ensure that any individual detained on U.S. soil under the Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) has access to due process and the federal court system. Udall's bill would repeal the provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 that requires the military to detain on U.S. soil any individuals suspected of terrorism. His bill aims to prevent the erosion of our civil liberties as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution while strengthening our national security. House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (WA-09) joined Udall at the press conference and introduced a companion bill in the House.
"I have grave concerns that the NDAA detention provisions could weaken our national security and our constitutional protections, and I am committed to finding a way to strike them," Udall said. "I believe that the language we've crafted for this bill addresses the concerns I've heard from many, many Coloradans - and from my colleagues from both chambers and both sides of the aisle. Our Constitution is in many ways the most powerful weapon we have against those who mean us harm. We can't afford to erode our liberties - in the end that will leave us more at risk."
Udall's and Smith's bills also prohibit military commissions and indefinite detention for individuals in the United States and affirm that any trial proceedings have all the due process as provided for under the Constitution. In addition, Udall hopes the bill will support the success of civilian law enforcement and federal courts in locking up suspected terrorists. Over 400 defendants charged with crimes related to international terrorism have been successfully convicted in the United States since 9/11, and more than 300 individuals are currently incarcerated in federal prisons within the United States with no escapes or retaliatory attack.
"While this administration has said it won't hold American citizens or lawful permanent residents in military custody, that is the interpretation of only one president. That policy won't tie the hands of future administrations," Udall continued. "The indefinite detention provisions threaten to undo much of the progress the FBI and law enforcement have made to stop terrorists plotting in the United States and overseas, and it seems to make it more difficult to collaboratively gather intelligence on domestic terror cells at all. The last thing we should be doing is preventing local, state and federal authorities from investigating and acting on threats to our safety."
A member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, Udall has opposed the detention provisions from the beginning. For more background on his work on this issue, click HERE and HERE, and read about the Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011, which he co-sponsored to clarify that American citizens cannot be indefinitely detained by the military.