Sent this letter to my Congressman today urging him to support an amendment to the NDAA authored by Adam Smith (D-WA) and Justin Amash (R-MI) that would restore protections against indefinite detention to U.S. citizens.
I realize that after the next election (with the redistricting), I will no longer reside in your district. Nonetheless, I am writing as a current constituent and previous supporter about an important issue before this Congress.
As you know, at the beginning of the year, the House and Senate passed and President Obama signed a renewal of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Among other things, this act grants the Executive branch the authority to indefinitely detain, without charges or trial, terrorist suspects apprehended in the United States. Initially designed to give the federal government the same power to deal with foreign nationals planning terrorist acts on U.S. soil the same way it deals with enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan or Iraq, the original language of this bill (and previous authorizations) has included language to protect U.S. citizens from being treated this way. However, President Obama insisted that such protections be removed before signing the bill and the final version passed into law grants the authority to detain any American citizen indefinitely for suspicion of terrorism without allowing that person access to counsel or trial or producing evidence.
This is an egregious assault on the civil liberties of Americans. Everyone deserves their day of court. The state must show guilt beyond reasonable doubt. On this, the Constitution could not be clearer. The fifth amendment states, "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." It is a strange concept of due process, indeed, if it does not include access to counsel, a speedy trial, an impartial judge, and a jury of your peers.
While this provision of the law is blatantly unconstitutional, it will remain in effect until such a time as there is an effective legal challenge in the courts. I am writing you to ask your support in stopping this erosion of civil liberties before it reaches federal courts. Please support the Smith-Amash amendment to the NDAA to preserve the due process rights of American citizens and restore the protections to these rights that were initially in the bill. Thank you.