Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced legislation to the U.S House on Wednesday that would repeal Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012.
The $662 billion defense spending bill contained controversial provisions, Sections 1021 and 1022, that required terrorism suspects to be detained by the military without trial, regardless of where they were captured.
Proponents of the bill claimed it merely clarified existing law, but human rights advocates and others said the provisions were unconstitutional and allowed the military detention of American citizens without trial.
“This is precisely the kind of egregious distortion of justice that Americans have always ridiculed in so many dictatorships overseas,” Paul said on the House floor. “A great man named Solzhenitsyn became the hero of so many of us when he exposed the Soviet Union’s extensive gulag system. Is this really the kind of United States we want to create in the name of fighting terrorism?”
While signing the bill on December 31, Obama issued a statement in which he pledged that the new laws would not violate Americans’ constitutional rights. But human rights advocates said Obama’s signing statement did not prevent future administrations from abusing the law.
Paul said the law’s definition of a terrorist was far too broad and vague. Under the law, anyone who “substantially supports” or is an “associated force” of the Taliban or al Qaeda could be detained.
“Sadly, too many of my colleagues are too willing to undermine our Constitution to support such outrageous legislation,” he continued.
“Mr. Speaker, of course I recognize how critical it is that we identify and apprehend those who are suspected of plotting attacks against Americans,” Paul concluded. “But why do we have so little faith in our justice system? Have we not tried in civilian court and won convictions of hundreds of individuals for terrorist or related activities? I fully support our continuing to do so, but let us not abandon what is so unique and special about our system of government in the process.”
Eric W. Dolan
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