Here at C4L, we've been getting a wide range of questions from our members about what happened in the Senate last week during the fight over S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Legislative battles are often fast-paced fights where details are changing minute-to-minute. Unfortunately, the internet doesn't always help clear things up because many political reporters who think they have a grasp of what is occurring, don't, and they unintentionally mislead people. To help clear things up, we'll start with the most recent, and work our way back.
To begin, the Senate passed the NDAA on Thursday night, by a vote of 93-7. This is not the end of the fight. The House passed a different version, H.R. 1540, near the end of May. Both versions will now end up in a joint House/Senate conference where differences will be hammered out, but more on that at the end.
On Friday, Dec. 2nd, C4L's Vice President, Matt Hawes sent around an email describing an amendment to S. 1867 that would have allowed the military to keep an individual locked up even after they had been tried and found NOT GUILTY until after the conclusion of the "War on Terror." Senator Paul helped defeat the amendment, S.A. 1274, by a vote of 41-59, just by calling for a roll call vote on Thursday night.
This was apparently the cause of much confusion afterwards as many individuals took our email to say that the National Defense Authorization Act and its "indefinite detention" provisions were defeated. It probably could have been worded a little more clearly and for that we apologize.
What you won't see from looking at the roll call vote on S.A. 1274, is that Senators Carl Levin, John McCain, and members of both parties had agreed to allow the amendment to pass by voice vote, but when forced to record Yea or Nay next to their name, the majority voted against it.
Next, we move back to last Thursday afternoons vote on Senate Amendments (S.A.) 1125 & 1126. Campaign for Liberty urged a "YES" vote on both of these amendments.
S.A. 1125 would have clarified that military requirement to detain individuals only applies to those captured overseas by adding the word "abroad" after "captured" in Section 1032 of S. 1867. This amendment failed by a vote of 45-55.
S.A. 1126 would have amended Section 1031 of S. 1867 to clearly state that the authority to detain individuals does not confer any authority of the military to detain American citizens without trial until the end of hostilities. This amendment also failed by a vote of 45-55.
Now, it's important to make something very clear here. We've received a number of messages from well-intentioned folks who contacted us saying something like, "But, Section 1032 already says it doesn't apply to U.S. Citizens, you're making a fight where there isn't one and really just being used as pawns in the ACLU's liberal agenda…"
I cannot stress this enough (nor can I express how many times I responded to it by email, phone, and private message) — don't be fooled by Section 1032, Subsection (b) on "Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens."
Despite what a straight-forward reading of the text would appear to say, that the "requirement to detain a person" does not apply to U.S. Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens this is just cleverly worded political-speak to deceive the American people. Just because they aren't "required" doesn't mean they aren't allowed.
One good thing that came out of votes on both S.A. 1125 & 1126, was that it showed us Senator Mike Lee was still on our side, and didn't actually believe allowing the military to detain Americans was Constitutional. He voted for both amendments and gave a powerful floor speech the day before in support of S.A. 1126 while condemning the notion of indefinite detention of American Citizens. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXn_gO62uD4
Seeing Senator Lee supporting those amendments was a good thing, because, just two days before, on Tuesday, November 29, he voted against the "Udall Amendment," S.A. 1107, that would have removed the problematic provisions in Sections 1031 & 1032 of S. 1867. C4L was urging Senators to vote "Yes" despite misgivings about requiring the "experts" to weigh in on indefinitely detaining American citizens, simply because we believed it would have eliminated the problematic provisions in the NDAA — it failed 38-60.
As he clarified in his floor speech a day later, Senator Lee didn't like the wording of the Udall amendment, the reporting requirements, and in the end, didn't feel it would have addressed the underlying problem.
Regardless, without any floor speech, press release, or notice that he would be voting against the amendment, many C4L members took Senator Lee's "No" vote on S.A. 1107 to mean he supports indefinite detention. We're all glad to see and hear he doesn't, but a lot of confusion & feelings of betrayal could have been avoided by putting out a statement immediately after the vote, or just prior to.
[As an aside, C4L still hasn't received a public explanation on why Senator Lee voted against Senator Paul's S.A. 1064, to officially bring the Iraq war to a close by repealing the AUMF-I -- his second "NO" vote when C4L was urging a "YES" on Tues. 11/29]
Now, this brings us back to where we are today. In the next week or so, a conference report will be put together and introduced in one of the two Chambers. Stay tuned to C4L's emails, blogs and Facebook for updates. As soon as we know something, you'll be the first to know!