Politics: Rand Paul still fighting as McCain removes due process from NDAA

Published by: Robert Laurie on Thursday December 20th, 2012

Robert Laurie

By ROBERT LAURIE - Indefinite detention alive and well.  Constitution, not so much.

The single most anti-constitutional piece of legislation signed by Barack Obama in his first term wasn't Obamacare.  The ACA was bad, but the NDAA bill giving the government the right to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens was far, far, worse. Back in November, an Amendment to the current NDAA was introduced by Sens.Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Mike Lee (R-UT)  in order to guarantee the due process of U.S. citizens.  It sailed through the Senate November 29th. The House, however, refused to pass anything similar.

So, a conference committee, led by Sen. John McCain (Rino-AZ), was set up to deal with the issue. On Tuesday, however, it completely stripped the amendment from the NDAA.  It's ironic, since McCain himself was once indefinitely detained and tortured. You'd think he'd be a little more sensitive to the issue.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), as is often the case, seems to be the only one still willing to fight for the Bill of Rights.  A statement posted on his website reads as follows.

"The decision by the NDAA conference committee, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to strip the National Defense Authorization Act of the amendment that protects American citizens against indefinite detention now renders the entire NDAA unconstitutional."

"I voted against NDAA in 2011 because it did not contain the proper constitutional protections. When my Senate colleagues voted to include those protections in the 2012 NDAA through the Feinstein-Lee Amendment last month, I supported this act," Sen. Paul continued. "But removing those protections now takes us back to square one and does as much violence to the Constitution as last year's NDAA. When the government can arrest suspects without a warrant, hold them without trial, deny them access to counsel or admission of bail, we have shorn the Bill of Rights of its sanctity."

"Saying that new language somehow ensures the right to habeas corpus - the right to be presented before a judge - is both questionable and not enough. Citizens must not only be formally charged but also receive jury trials and the other protections our Constitution guarantees. Habeas corpus is simply the beginning of due process. It is by no means the whole."

"Our Bill of Rights is not something that can be cherry-picked at legislators' convenience. When I entered the United States Senate, I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. It is for this reason that I will strongly oppose passage of the McCain conference report that strips the guarantee to a trial by jury.”

Diane Feinstein agreed, saying  “I was saddened and disappointed that we could not take a step forward to ensure at the very least American citizens and legal residents could not be held in detention without charge or trial. To me, that was a no-brainer.”

Paul is absolutely correct and, as much as it may pain me to say it, so is Feinstein.

Remember, we’re not talking about foreign combatants here.  These aren’t invaders who’ve come to the U.S. to attack us.  This is about citizens. The right to due process and a trial by jury is guaranteed to EVERY American, no matter how despicable their actions.

McCain should be ashamed that he’s involved with the undoing of this basic, founding, principle.

Let’s hope Senator Paul keeps fighting.