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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. NADLER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, there is hypocrisy here, and there is also great faith in ignorance on the part of the public. We have in this defense budget, it's $8.3 billion above what was agreed to in the Budget Control Act last year, and now he says that's not enough.

Under the Ryan budget, the entire discretionary expenditures in the United States will go down eventually to 3.5 percent of GDP from 12.5 percent. Since Governor Romney says defense should not go below 4 percent, that means minus one-half percent for everything else government does--less than zero for the post office, for transportation, for education, for the Weather Bureau, for NASA. For everything government does other than Social Security, Medicare and veterans and debt service--zero dollars. That's where this budget that the other side of the aisle is espousing and has voted for to a person leads us, to zero dollars for all government functions other than defense and veterans.


Mr. NADLER. In 15 seconds, I will simply say that this amendment is the least we can do. We should go with the Budget Control Act. The other side of the aisle says we haven't passed a budget. This is the effective budget. The fact of the matter is that we have doubled military spending, exclusive of Afghanistan and Iraq, in 10 years. We ought to start reducing it now.


Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, this amendment asserts that it intends to protect the right of habeas corpus, which is to say the right to get into court. But the problem is not habeas. It's not the right to get into court. That is granted by the Constitution. The problem is what you can assert once you get into court. It says nothing about that. It says nothing about the circumstances in which individuals might actually be subject to military detention when arrested within the territory of the United States.

It's actually dangerous. It narrows constitutional rights because it narrows the scope of the statutory habeas corpus protection to individuals lawfully in the United States when detained as opposed to those detained in the United States. Someone with questionable immigration status might not have any habeas rights under this amendment.

Secondly, as Mr. Amash pointed out, by saying that you can file it not later than 30 days, it could be read to say that, unlike current law where you can file habeas the moment you're detained, you have to wait 30 days, or you might not be able to file after 30 days.

So it's an affirmatively dangerous amendment. It narrows the right to habeas corpus, and it doesn't do anything to protect the real problem here, which is not habeas. That was never the problem.

The real problem is the right of detention, when you get into court through habeas and the court says, You have no rights, because indefinite detention is permitted. That's the problem we ought to be dealing with. This amendment doesn't deal with it, and it makes the habeas arguably more difficult and more narrow.

If we value due process and if we value liberty, this amendment should be defeated.


Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, last year I argued in opposition to sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA, that they went far beyond the AUMF to suggest that the President has the authority to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely without charge.

This amendment prohibits the detention without charge of any person arrested or detained in the United States and is the first step toward restoring due process. It's a good first step, but its scope is limited to U.S. soil and to the present AUMF. We should do more. That's why I've introduced the No Detention Without Charge Act, which would not only prohibit detention without charge of people arrested in the United States, but would also prohibit the detention of any person anywhere indefinitely, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution and the law of war, and it would restore meaningful right of action for detainees to challenge the legality of their detention.

The notion that the United States should conduct itself according to the Constitution and the law of war should not be controversial. Smith-Amash takes the first step--and I have proposed the next--towards affirming our values and securing our liberty. If we are going to address indefinite detention, we must do so directly.

I urge my colleagues to support the Smith-Amash amendment and to sign on as cosponsors of my bill.


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