Congress stripped a provision Tuesday from a defense bill that aimed to shield Americans from the possibility of being imprisoned indefinitely without trial by the military. The provision was replaced with a passage that appears to give citizens little protection from indefinite detention.
The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 was added by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), but there was no similar language in the version of the bill that passed the House, and it was dumped from the final bill released Tuesday after a conference committee from both chambers worked out a unified measure.
It declared that "An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention."
The provision sparked a heated debate in the Senate, but ultimately passed by a wide majority with both supporters and opponents of U.S. terrorist detention practices voting for it, citing differing interpretations. Feinstein offered the amendment to clarify a part of the 2012 NDAA that for the first time codified the ability of the military and White House to detain terrorism suspects.