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article imageOp-Ed: Rand Paul holds up vote on Defense Authorization Act

By Ken Hanly     Nov 16, 2012 in Politics
Washington - Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul has introduced an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act that would require American citizens held by the military be given rights to a fair trial by a jury of peers, and the right to confront witnesses against him or her.
The libertarian-leaning Senator from Kentucky is well known for his defense of civil liberties and criticism of U.S. militarism, as well as the many actions of the U.S. government he considers violate the U.S. constitution. Paul is mounting a filibuster until there is agreement for a vote on his amendment. The bill is quite important as it sets the agenda for and funds the U.S. military. There seems to be little discussion of the bill in the press even though it involves the expenditure of about two thirds of a trillion dollars.
The Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, wanted to have the bill considered before leaving for Thanksgiving break.The move by Paul annoyed Reid who said: “[Republicans] say they want to move to the defense authorization bill, so I said yesterday, fine, let’s move to it. But my friends can’t take ‘yes’ for an answer.Democrats are] not the cause for why the defense authorization bill is not being brought to the floor.”
Reid said that he had agreed to an open amendment process because Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) agreed to table all the non-relevant amendments. However, Paul's amendment is surely germane to the bill. It asserts:“A citizen of the United States who is captured or arrested in the United States and detained by the Armed Forces of the United States pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40) shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense."
Reid wants to resolve the issue so he can proceed to pass the Defense Authorization Act when the Senate resumes operations on November 26. Reid insists that the amendment is not germane and should not be voted upon. There seems no reason not to simply vote down Paul's amendment and show what should be obvious, the vast majority of senators have no interest in protecting the rights of Americans to a fair trial when apprehended by the military.
The Obama administration even appealed a ruling by a lower court that blocked the government attempt to ignore due process and detain Americans as long as they wanted without recourse to the courts. Judge Katherine Forrest last month found that the statutes that allowed this violated constitutional rights of Americans. Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, and Noam Chomsky were among those who brought the case against the government. However, on appeal, three Obama-appointed judges rejected Forrest's ruling barring the government from enforcing the indefinite detention provisions in the national defense bill. So where are all those liberal Democrats and progressives? As usual, unwilling to criticize their hero.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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