War on Terror

As His Anti-Detainment Amendment to the NDAA Loses in the House, Justin Amash Reminds the Floor That the Constitution Protects People, Not Just Citizens


After a midnight debate on the House floor, the Smith-Amash anti-indefinite detainment amendment (sponsored by Reps. Adam Smith and Justin Amash and supported by other congresskids) to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) failed. The final vote was 182-237, with a mere 19 Republicans joined the unsurprisingly crashed anti-detainment party.

(The GOP's toothless pro-Habeas Corpus Amendment passed, but that, as Mother Jones notes, is not the point of contention. The point is that accusations of terrorism are a catch-all for completely destroying civil liberties.) So, hello $640 billion NDAA 2013! Detainment powers intact! And always with increased military spending. (Four billion more!)

So, what now? We're doomed to choke on our own empire-buildig, right?

Unless U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest's blocking of the worst bits of the NDAA holds up, that is. And her judgement that plaintiff and journalist Chris Hedges had the standing to actually challenge the NDAA definitely bodes well, but the death of the Smith-Amash amendment is not good.

Still, to grasp at further straws of optimism, last night Amash actually managed to sneak onto the House floor a bracing reminder that even with all the (righteous) panic over American citizens being detained most people forgot that non-citizens within the borders of the country are supposed to have protections, too. Constitutional protections apply to "persons" not just "citizens" railed Amash. Check it out.

Amash expresses a Ron Paul-like opposition to unconstitutional wars. He has also raised the very Paul-like point about how gosh, we think it's just a little intervention with a few airstrikes in instances like Libya, but a couple of foreign planes over America would make everyone agree that this is a war. 

Meanwhile, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs/Now Heritage Foundation expert Charles Stimson helped draft a letter which objected to the failed amendment. Stimson claimed on Fox News earlier this week that the Amash-Smith amendment would "encourage terrorists" to come to the U.S. Also, "we're still at war" and it's bad to "take any options off the table." Others folks, such as Congressman Tom Rooney, are of the opinion that that Amash is interested in "coddling terrorists." 

No. Amash is just that disturbingly rare creature (especially among politicians) who remembers two oft-forgotten facts. In the orgy of murderous self-absorption that is foreign policy, it helps to recall that people who weren't lucky enough to be born Americans are in fact still people; And to defend suspected terrorists is not to defend terrorism. The government doesn't exactly have a flawless record in grabbing the right people. And to defend the rights of non-citizens from detainment without charge is not to defend the guy caught flying over Detroit with a lit fuse in his underwear. It's to defend the the hundreds of thousands of other, grayer cases than that. 

And really, since the war on terror has no end, how long do people like Stimson think "we are still at war" will hold up as an excuse? (Forever. The answer is forever.) 

He also argued the old standby that the NDAA "simply codifies" what was already law. (U.S. District Judge Forrest disagrees with this Obama-friendly argument.) But laws that were once envelope-pushing outrage become more and more just precedent upon precedent. And then Americans (and people all over the world) lose more and more freedom. I've already just about accepted the NDAA. I'm waiting for the next government thing now.

Reason on the NDAA, on Justin Amash, and on the war on terror

NEXT: Phonehenge Architect Sentenced to Pay For Demolition, "See Dead People"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So, what now? We’re doomed, right? Unless U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest’ blocking of the worst bits of the NDAA holds up, that is

    Isn’t there a principled guy somewhere in the government who campaigned against this kind of overreach who could veto this?



    1. He must have “grown” in office

      1. His position evolved I take it. He does a lot of that… evolving.

        1. “Are we not men?”

          1. or are we not dancer?

            1. The correct and only answer is “We are Devo!”

              You sicken me.

              1. Thank you. That’s the nicest thing any girl has ever said to me. Making progress!

  2. The final vote was 182-237, with a mere 19 Republicans joined the unsurprisingly crashed anti-detainment party.

    Thank God for the small-gov’t, better than dems GOP standing up for our constitutional…sorry, I can’t hold the laughter in anymore. Vote Republican!

    And really, since the war on terror has no end, how long do people like Stimson think “we are still at war” will hold up as an excuse?

    Until there isn’t a single person on earth who will think about harming us. As long as one human being anywhere on the planet harbors delusions of blowing something up, that person is a terrorist and we will be at war.

    1. Hey 19, is an improvement on 1.

      1. Yeah, after the “Tea Party” small-gov’t revolution in 2010, we just need 10 more voting cycles each putting massive numbers of freshmen in (in an unbroken row), and we’ll almost be there!

      2. Hey 19,

        The Cuervo Gold
        The fine Columbian
        Make tonight a wonderful thing

        1. Your buying Fine Columbian and can’t spend a few extra bucks for a 100% agave?

    2. Thank God for the small-gov’t, better than dems GOP standing up for our constitutional…sorry, I can’t hold the laughter in anymore. Vote Republican!

      Someone down blogged was stunned that “as a libertarian” I wasn’t wishing for a Romney victory over Obama. I’m not sure if he was being snarky.

      1. To the “libertarians” in Team RED, having to pay for health insurance is a greater threat to liberty than being disappeared by the military

        1. I should say having to pay for health insurance under a Black President, by the way. The GOP all-but-nominee also favors compelling people to pay for Health Isnurance by force of the State

        2. Because only “bad” people will be disappeared by the military, while good, right-thinking people will have to pay for health insurance.

          1. In a police state, you’ll be just fine as long as “you’re not doing anything wrong”, don’t you know…

  3. What countries would you guys suggest emigrating to?

    1. I have family in Australia. If you’re a doctor or nurse then they even have a separate visa process set aside because there is such a shortage. I wonder if they’ll let us apply as refugees.

      1. Good as long as you don’t want to play video games of your choice or use herbs that the king of Thailand finds offensive.

        1. Good as long as you don’t ever want to do anything, ever.

        2. Or own a gun, watch porn with small titted women, or have a choice in healthcare. I don’t understand why some libertarians are seeing Australia as a good choice, they’re right behind Mother Britain on the path to a all encompassing nanny state

          1. They watched that crocodile dude movie and thought it was cool.

            Arid wastelands, poisonous critters under every stone, and laws worse than in the USSA. Yes, I can’t wait to get there.

          2. “Hey, there are some major problems with the United States, so let’s move to an authoritarian shithole and enjoy the culture some old ruins, cathedrals, and art made by long-dead civilizations and people lend it.”

            It happens pretty frequently, and I don’t get it either.

      2. Too many poisonous critters.

        1. I have much less fear of their poisonous critters than of their progressive nutcase politicians.

      3. What about about New Zealand? Number 4 on Hertitage.org Freedom rankings. I’ve read the NZ girls are pretty promiscuous as well. Also, they have all that LOTR scenery. They also speak English.


        1. A much prettier (naturally, I mean), less populated Britain whose only upside is that its government has Czech Republic Syndrome — its government is, by circumstance, inclined not to skull-fuck people as much as, say, European governments generally are, mostly because it’s quiet and small and uneventful.

        2. Hope you like frequent earthquakes. But scenery, yeah, got to agree, and lots of open space. And sheep, if you are into those.

          1. A certain lawyer is now looking into NZ.

        3. I heard New Zealand is an heavenly place. Tulpa said so.

          1. I would definately like to visit there some time.

            1. Me too, I haven’t been yet, but a friend of mine was there a couple years ago and posted a lot of pics on Picasa. Wow! Some of the best scenery pics I have ever seen.

    2. Brazil, I have a few more years here, and then the new Chucky Shumer Ex Pat Freedom and Save the Childins Act will apply to me. The only good part is that they won’t let me back in, in case I had a stupid spell and wanted back.

    3. Sounds like Chuck Schumer wants to take that option off the table as well.

  4. I think I might be making a donation to the Amash re-election fund.

  5. Why worry about “indefinite” detainment? You have to die *sometime*.

    1. Yeah, I can pretty much guarantee that they’ll get tired of paying to feed you and shit after 20 years or so.

  6. http://www.salon.com/2012/05/1…..singleton/

    ^In more encouraging news, a federal judge had enjoined the detention parts of the NDAA and allowed a lawsuit against it to go forward. Her opinion doesn’t go far enough, but it is till encouraging

  7. Reminded me of an excerpt from a book:

    “While I do not me an to single out the doctrine of Islam for special abuse, there is no question that, at this point in history, it represents a unique danger to all of us, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Needless to say, many Muslims are basically rational and tolerant of others. As we will see, however, these modern virtues are not likely to be products of their faith.

    In chapter 4, I will argue that insofar as a person is observant of the doctrine of Islam?that is, insofar as he really believes it?he will pose a problem for us. Indeed, it has grown rather obvious that the liabilities of the Muslim faith are by no means confined to the beliefs of Muslim “extremists.”

    The response of the Muslim world to the events of September 11, 2001, leaves no doubt that a significant number of human beings in the twenty-first century believe in the possibility of ma r tyrdom. We have, in response to this improbable fact, declared a war on “terrorism.”

    This is rather like declaring war on “murder”; it is a category error that obscures the true cause of our troubles. Terrorism is not a source of h uman violence, but merely one its inflections. If Osama bin Laden were the leader of a nation, and the World Trade Center had been brought down with missiles, the atrocities of September 11 would have been acts of war. It should go without saying that we would have resisted the temptation to declare a war on “war” in response.”

    1. I saw a hot muslim* chick at Cabela’s last weekend.

      *I think, judging by her clothes

      1. I saw a hot muslim* chick at Cabela’s last weekend.

        *I think, judging by her clothes

        The loose, head-to-toe garment really showed her figure?

        1. Nah, it was just the scarf, and the dude she was with had a hellacious beard and man-jammies.

          She wasn’t dressed provocatively, but did have a shapely ass (jeans) and a gorgeous face. I’d hit it, then take my after-piss in the direction of Mecca.

          1. See the video below. You can thank me now.

            1. Can’t at work, but I’ll check it out when I get home.

              1. You won’t regret it. Egyptian. Respect. I can almost see why the Brotherhood is up in arms. That shit melts my eyeballs.

              2. Here’s one where I’d love to have a translation. Same woman, looks like she’s being grilled by some guy who seems upset. Given her outfit that you catch a glimpse of right before they start blocking it, I’m guessing it’s causing some controversy.

                I wonder how hard it is to be that hot in a place like Egypt?


                1. Hmm, maybe not, at the end they’re laughing and smiling. So maybe not. But they still blocked her outfit, so someone thought it was inappropriate.

                  1. I’ve met exceptionally hot Arab-American chicks. That they’d be concealed beneath heavy clothing if their ancestors had remained in their ancestral homelands is fucking unconscionable.

                    1. There is a way to pull off the just-the-scarf muslim look if done correctly, that makes it look alluring. But it’s hard to do.

                  2. Here you go, Paul. Enjoy a better view of the same interview.

            2. unblocked version


              1. Also you could just have turned off captioning. Anyway apparently her name is Marwa and she’s Lebanese.

        1. Well, if you get 75 of that

  8. Stimson claimed on Fox News earlier this week that the Amash-Smith amendment would “encourage terrorists” to come to the U.S.

    So finally someone tells the truth about why did the US turn itself into a tyrannical police-State: you see, it is to dissuade would-be terrorists from visiting the US! Don’t you feel better already?

    1. It’s like we all said a few weeks ago when the data purporting to show a net loss of “illegal immigrants” came out: we’ve finally made this a shitty enough place to live that people don’t want to be here anymore.

      Shout-out to California; we couldn’t have figured it out without you paving the way!

      1. I almost feel guilty for bringing my wife here(legally). I did tell her that we have turned into a tyrannical police state, but she still doesn’t quite believe me. I am convinced however that a few more trips through the Miami airport immigration and we will have us a new foreign born LP recruit.

    2. Truly a cunning plan

  9. What countries would you guys suggest emigrating to?

    Call me crazy, but I would hope that our goals for liberty aren’t “be a little less tyrranical than everyone else.” Liberty isn’t graded on a curve.

    1. Liberty isn’t graded on a curve.

      No, it’s generally failed outright, and anyone bringing it up is suspended from school for extremist views.

    2. And if you meant, “America’s gotten bad enough to leave” rather than “America — love it or leave it,” I apologize in advance. Didn’t see the alternate reading until after I posted.

      1. That’s what he meant. I’m quite sure of it.

      2. No offense taken. If I ever say “love it or leave it” I hope someone strikes me down for good

        1. Somebody basically said a version of that the other day (something like, “Well if it’s so bad, you could always try North Korea).

          I can’t remember who exactly it was, so I’m just going to go ahead and say Tulpa.

          1. Could be anyone. Progressives say, “Well if it’s so bad, you could always try Somalia”

    3. Abso-fucking-lutely. Why anybody would ever even consider the shitty standards of the rest of the world is beyond me in a search for a set of benchmarks is beyond me. We shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to everywhere else — we should aspire to true liberty and true justice, period.

      1. Why I still haven’t learned to proofread is also beyond me.

      2. It’s gotten to the point we are rejecting the basic English principles that gave birth to Liberty in the modern sense, let alone the American Constitution. Ideas that have been integral to our legal tradition since AT LEAST Edward Coke pushed the 1628 Petition of Right are being tossed away, sacrificed to the bogeyman of “Terrorism” and the God of “National Security”

        1. You might want tone down the freedom talk, dude. The NSA is probably watching.

      3. That’s why I always make the distinction between “America” and “the United States of America”.

        America is an ideal of the sovereign individual endowed by his creator with certain inalienable rights, including the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

        The USA is not necessarily American in that sense. The illegal immigrants who risk their lives to come here just so that they can get shitty jobs in an attempt to better themselves are more American than many of the natives here – when those real Americans stop trying to come to the US it might be time to consider finding America somewhere else.

    4. Call me crazy, but I would hope that our goals for liberty aren’t “be a little less tyrranical than everyone else.”

      Of course not, but ranting about America being a police state and threatening emigration rings pretty hollow when you look at the rest of the world (which has several actual police states).

      1. I agree. That’s precisely why we should forget the shitholes of the world and admit that we should simply not give a fuck about the rest of the world in comparative terms. Liberty is liberty, and justice is justice, and our aims for the attainment of neither should be predicated upon simply being better than everybody else, but actually free and actually just.

        1. Amen!

      2. Of course not, but ranting about America being a police state and threatening emigration rings pretty hollow when you look at the rest of the world (which has several actual police states).

        Except that it’s perfectly reasonable that we’re becoming a quasi-police state, via crushing bureaucracy.

        No, making flip comparisons to North Korea aren’t helpful. But there are arguable comparisons between us and say, China.

        The moment you have any institution that by definition strips you of due process, you’re on your way.

      3. You have to draw a line somewhere. Usually when people say things like that, they’re trying to imply that one should never complain, because it could always be worse.

        Well by that logic, as long as there is ever one single human being on earth who is in worse circumstances that yourself, you should always be content.

        It doesn’t matter that there are “worse” places. I’m only concerned about this place.

  10. Constitutional protections apply to “persons” not just “citizens” railed Amash.

    Only in the 5th amendment. The 2nd, 4th, 9th, 10th, and second half of the 1st arguably only apply to citizens, since they speak of “the people”.

    1. Ok, John Edwards. Your argument hangs on the usage of the word “the.”

    2. So you’re saying non-US citizens aren’t people?

    3. The preamble to the constitution implies that rights are NOT given by the government to the people, but that people are born with these rights as human beings. The constitution mearly recognizes that fact. While you can certainly argue that the specifics within legalislation as it relates to these rights could be somewhat different between citizens and non-citizens, the core principles of those rights would apply to all human beings everywhere at least as far as our governments treatment of them. Otherwise, our government would be going against The Creator. But that’s just a silly old piece of paper anyways.

      1. It’s not even written in English, man.

  11. It’s generally pretty easy to get depressed with the crap that comes out of DC, then along comes something like this and (most of) the comments in support of liberty, and I figure it’s not time to give up quite yet.

    1. It’s not all that depressing. The vote was better than I thought it would be. We are only a couple of elections away from things getting better, after things get much worse. That is what it is going to take, but hang in there, we will defeat the progressives, they don’t have the numbers to hold us off because eventually they WILL run out of other peoples money and when the freeby crowds goodies start to run out… need I say more?

  12. It’s unfortunate that this Amendment didn’t pass, but it’s nice to see some government officials taking the lead against this act of tyranny. Hopefully, if more of them follow suit and unite against NDAA, this unconstitutional piece of legislation will be struck down forever! There’s a good article that shows the opposition to NDAA and what people are doing about it: http://www.martiallawusa.com/wp/?p=45 … Take a look sometime and get involved!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.