Senator Rand Paul is boasting about how he preserved the right of every American citizen to a trial by jury through an amendment that he cosponsored with Senators Mike Lee and Dianne Feinstein. His press release claims that he has protected “the rights prescribed to Americans in the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution with regard to indefinite detention and the right to a trial by jury.” But check out Congressman Justin Amash’s more accurate assessment of what occurred: “The heart of the Feinstein amendment: ‘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.’ [Amash’s emphasis]. Well, that Act of Congress is the 2012 NDAA, which renders the rest of the Feinstein amendment meaningless.”
Amash is right and Paul is wrong. The Military Commissions Act and the 2012 NDAA are both acts of Congress that authorize the unlimited detention of American citizens and anyone else together with subsequent processing through military tribunals or no trial at all.