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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Chair, the issue here is, do you want to fix the possible problems with the Authorization for Use of Military Force back in 2001 when all of the cosponsors were not even here and possibly the NDAA? Or do you want to extend new rights that are not constitutionally required? Because those of us that have sponsored this amendment want to fix the possible problem of inappropriate detention. That's why this amendment was offered.

I take a particular affront because I do not question the motivation of the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Smith). I know the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Amash). We've stood alone on too many bills together. I know their intent is good.

This is not a smokescreen. This is intended to fix a problem. In the underlying bill that came before the floor, it has a fix for habeas corpus in paragraph A. I added the provision that gets us to where we were before the AUMF. That's what I wanted to fix, not as a smokescreen. But what this does is say, if you had these constitutional rights before the AUMF, you've still got them now. And nothing in the AUMF, nothing in the former NDAA, nothing in the new NDAA can change that. You have those rights.

I understand we don't have CARE supporting this amendment as they do the following proposed amendment. But listen, what this would do if the subsequent amendment wins instead of this one, you are giving rights to people illegally in this country, for example, to people who are foreign terrorists, who sneak their way in here and kill people, rights that immigrants who are undocumented don't have.

People say, Gee, we have a right to an article III court. This Congress has the right to never create an article III court. No one in America has the right to an article III court. This Congress has a right under article I, section 8 to create or not create inferior courts.

I'm glad we created them. I would say we should if we didn't. But the right is to go back to where we were before the AUMF. That's what this amendment does, and we appreciate the support of Heritage and The Wall Street Journal in saying that the subsequent amendment is not the way to go, extending additional rights. Let's fix the problem, and this amendment does that.


Mr. GOHMERT. We hear repeatedly people say persons are entitled to their constitutional rights, and, yes, they are.

When I was in the Army for 4 years, I was entitled to constitutional rights, but I had no right to freedom of speech. I had no right to freedom of assembly. There were a lot of people in the military that would rather not assemble at 5 a.m. in the morning, but you don't have that constitutional right.

The same way with immigrants. Immigrants do not have all of the rights under the Constitution that others do.

What we're saying is that people who are terrorists and kill Americans on American soil should not have more rights than an immigrant who is here peaceably but that is subject to the laws and subject to detention without going to an article III court. There are constitutional rights, yes, but not everyone under the Constitution has the same rights. Ask somebody in the military.

So I implore my colleagues, please do not give foreign terrorists on our soil more rights than our own military has under the Constitution.


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