Criminal defense attorneys should take note of recent happenings on Capitol Hill, as the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Indefinite Detention Bill, more formally known as the National Defense Authorization Act (the NDAA). The NDAA is a $622 billion defense spending bill. This year’s passage of the NDAA is controversial due to language in the bill (specifically, sections 1031 and 1032) allowing for indefinite detention of certain persons. To read the full version of the bill, click here. (Note: This version may not be the final version passed by Congress, as the Senate has yet to vote.)
The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the bill later today. (Ironically, December 15th will be the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights.)
To read more about the Indefinite Detention Bill, check out this article by Michael McAuliff, a reporter from Huffington Post.
The ACLU has urged President Obama to veto the bill, claiming that this bill is a return to McCarthy-era tactics. Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office has stated:
“The president should more carefully consider the consequences of allowing this bill to become law…If President Obama signs this bill, it will damage both his legacy and American’s reputation for upholding the rule of law. The last time Congress passed indefinite detention legislation was during the McCarthy era and President Truman had the courage to veto that bill. We hope that the president will consider the long view of history before codifying indefinite detention without charge or trial.”
Interestingly, the ACLU has also posted a video to their website which shows some compiled statements made by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in support of the bill.
As of today, it appears as though President Obama will sign the bill into law when it lands on his desk. Criminal defense attorneys should be wary of this legislation as it thwarts a detainee’s constitutional rights to due process, such as rights to speedy trial and rights to an attorney.
Matthews Law Firm, P.A. will track the further passage of this bill.
(Disclaimer: This post is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.)