The US House of Representatives approved an annual defense spending bill early Thursday after rejecting a proposed amendment that would have prevented the United States government from indefinitely detaining American citizens.
An amendment introduced in the House on Wednesday this week asked that Congress repeal a controversial provision placed in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 that has ever since provided the executive branch with the power to arrest and detain indefinitely any US citizen thought to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda or associated organizations.
“This amendment would eliminate indefinite detention in the United States and its territories,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington), a co-author of the failed amendment, said during floor debate on Wednesday,“So basically anybody that we captured, who we suspected of terrorist activity, would no longer be subject to indefinite detention, as is now, currently, the law.”
“That is an enormous amount of power to give the executive, to take someone and lock them up without due process,” Smith added. “It is an enormous amount of power to grant the executive, and I believe places liberty and freedom at risk in this country.”
Pres. Barack Obama vowed when he signed the 2012 NDAA into law on December 31, 2011 that he would not use the indefinite detention powers provided to him by Congress. When that provision waschallenged in federal court, however, the White House fought back adamantly and appealed a District Court ruling that initially reversed the indefinite detention clause, eventually sending the challenge to the Supreme Court where it stalled until earlier this month with the justices there said they would not consider the case.