Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) on Thursday read sections of the United States Constitution on the Senate floor as lawmakers debated a highly controversial provision in the annual defense bill.
Sections 1031 and 1032 in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the Senate is debating this week, would authorize the military to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists anywhere in the world — including U.S. citizens on U.S. soil — without charge or trial.
“I took the time, as we all should from time to time serving in this body, to re-read the Constitution of the United States yesterday,” Kirk said.
He then read sections of the Constitution pertaining to trials for U.S. citizens and treason. He also read from the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment, and Fourteenth Amendment.
“It appears this legislation directly violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, with regard to those rights which are inalienable according to the Declaration of Independence,” he noted.
An amendment to the legislation proposed by Democratic Senator Mark Udall would have replaced the rules and allowed intelligence officials to offer their own plan. But the amendment was rejected by a 37 to 61 vote Tuesday. Kirk and Rand Paul (KY) were the only Republican senators to vote for it.
Another less ambitious amendment, which Kirk spoke in support of Thursday, would have prevented the indefinite detention provision from being applied within the United States. That amendment failed by a vote of 45 to 55.
“The whole purpose of the [Department of Defense] is to defend the rights of the United States and U.S. citizens,” Kirk added. “One of the first things you do when you join the U.S. military is not to swear allegiance to a president — you actually swear allegiance to the Constitution of the United States.”
The Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have all sent letters to Congress opposing the indefinite detention provision. The White House has threatened to veto the entire bill because of it.
Kirk concluded his more than 12-minute-long speech by encouraging his colleagues to re-read the Constitution.
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube, below:
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