U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., has joined three other Republican congressmen in introducing two amendments to a controversial defense spending bill that civil libertarians have long argued threatens the constitutional rights of American citizens.
The first of the amendments, titled Prohibition on Use of Lethal Military Force Against Citizens of the United States Within the United States, would prohibit the federal government from using "lethal military force" against American citizens on American soil including through the use of unmanned attack drones unless doing so is necessary to prevent that American from causing "death or serious bodily injury" to others.
The second, titled "Report on United States Citizens Subject to Military Detention, would require the U.S. Secretary of Defense to submit to congress an annual report detailing the identities of all U.S. citizens who are being held in military detention, along with the legal justification for their detention and notice of what steps are being taken to ensure they are receiving due process.
The government should be a vigilant defender of our civil liberties, Radel said in a statement announcing introduction of the amendments, which will be debated by Congress on Thursday and Friday. These amendments add yet another layer of protection to the rights of American citizens, granting them the due process they deserve when it comes to the use lethal military force and military detentions.
Radel is being joined by U.S. Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Matt Salmon of Arizona.
The measures are proposed amendments to the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a defense spending bill that has received bipartisan criticism from civil rights activists because of provisions (in place since the 2011 version of the law) that allow the federal government to detain any individual, even American citizens, indefinitely and without trial so long as they are being accused of terrorism.
Several legislative attempts to amend the law to exempt Americans from the indefinite detention provisions have failed, and those provisions are currently being challenged in federal court.
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