This year’s amendment is not specifically mentioned as one of those up for consideration tomorrow, according to the majority leader’s calendar, but it does state that amendments will be worked through with intended completion of the bill this week.
Adding to the unusual pairing of the amendment’s authors is the mix of co-sponsors: Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
Not surprisingly, Paul has threatened to filibuster the defense bill unless the amendment gets a vote.
“Those senators who would propose limiting the right to trial by jury, they reflect and demur that everyone would still have a habeas hearing. A habeas hearing is important. You must present the body and a judge must say ‘why are you holding this person.’ But it’s not the end of due process. It’s the beginning of due process,” Paul argued on the floor today.
“…We must still have a trial by jury or we do not have the due process that our Founding Fathers fought for. Those Senators who would abridge this and say a habeas hearing is enough should remember Blackstone’s admonition. Every new tribunal erected for the decision of facts without the intervention of a jury is a step toward establishing aristocracy, the most oppressive of absolute governments.”
Paul referenced a center in Missouri tasked with gathering information about terrorists and streamlining federal and local enforcement communications.
“But from this fusion center comes a document that says beware of people who have bumper stickers supporting third-party candidates. Beware of people who believe in stricter immigration laws,” he said. “Beware of people who support the right to life. They might be terrorists. This is an official document. Do we want to give up the right to trial by jury when we’re being told that somebody who keeps food in their basement might be a terrorist?”
President Obama tried to codify opponents of last year’s bill by saying he wouldn’t use his new broad authorities, which vaguely peg the targets as anyone who provides “substantial support” to al-Qaeda or “associated forces.” The administration recently went to battle in court to uphold the powers, though.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the Feinstein-Lee amendment a “disaster.”
“What they’re trying to do is say if you can find an American who is trying to help Al Qaeda, you can’t hold them for military interrogation to find out what they’re up to,” Graham said. “You have to read them their rights and treat it as a common crime … I think it will make us less safe.”
“I think what you would actually be doing is actually encouraging the enemy to find American citizens.”