40 Members of Congress Say No to Indefinite Detention of Americans

This week, U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-1) and I, and more than 35 colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, sent an urgent letter to House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders and conferees opposing provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that would authorize indefinite detention of Americans and tie the hands of domestic law enforcement in terrorism cases.

The letter opposed Sec. 1034 of the House-passed defense authorization and Secs. 1031 and 1032 of the Senate-passed bill.

Sec. 1034 of the House bill would authorize the use of military force against broadly defined adversaries substantially exceeding the scope of such authorizations already in law. The expanded authority would have no geographical limits and provide authority for open-ended armed conflict.

Sec. 1031 of the Senate bill would authorize indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists without protecting U.S. citizens' right to trial. Sec. 1032 of the Senate bill would require that suspected foreign terrorists be taken into custody by the military instead of civilian law enforcement authorities, denying civilian law enforcement authorities the flexibility necessary to conduct effective counterterrorism operations.

These provisions have no place in our law. If we include this language, we're on a slippery slope. As my colleague Rep. Heinrich said:

"I strongly oppose mandating military custody and allowing for indefinite detention without due process or trial. These provisions are deeply concerning and would risk putting American citizens in military detention, indefinitely. In short, this authority is at complete odds with the United States Constitution."

House and Senate conferees met Monday to finalize the Defense authorization bill. It is anticipated that the conference report will be voted on by the House this coming Thursday, December 15.

To read the letter, click HERE. See below for a list of signatories thus far:

Rep. Hank Johnson, serves on the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees.
Rep. Martin Heinrich, serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer
Rep. Judy Chu
Rep. William Lacy Clay
Rep. Steve Cohen
Rep. John Conyers
Rep. Diana DeGette
Rep. John Garamendi
Rep. Raúl Grijalva
Rep. Alcee Hastings
Rep. Maurice Hinchey
Rep. Mike Honda
Rep. Barbara Lee
Rep. John Lewis
Rep. Ben Ray Luján
Rep. Carolyn Maloney
Rep. Jim McDermott
Rep. James McGovern
Rep. Jerrold Nadler
Rep. Charles Rangel
Rep. Ed Towns
Rep. Bobby Rush
Rep. Jose Serrano
Rep. Henry Waxman
Rep. Brad Sherman
Rep. Jesse Jackson
Rep. Nydia Velazquez
Rep. Donald Payne
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton
Rep. Louise Slaughter
Rep. Gwen Moore
Rep. George Miller
Rep. Sam Farr
Rep. Peter Welch
Rep. Betty McCollum
Rep. Hansen Clarke
Rep. Keith Ellison
Rep. Pete Stark
Rep. Peter DeFazio