NDAA Followup: Outcome on Amendments a Mixed Bag

Here’s a quick follow-up on what happened to the five proposed amendments to the House version of the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that I flagged yesterday.

The only one of the five adopted was Rep. Duncan Hunter’s “Sense of Congress” suggesting a need to use military force to go after the people who attacked the U.S. embassy in Benghazi.  That could very well (I hope) be eliminated in conference with the Senate.

The other four – Rep. Adam Smith’s steps toward closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center; Rep. Adam Schiff’s proposal for the AUMF to expire within a year; Rep. Jackie Walorski’s ban on transfers of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen; and Reps. Paul Broun and Adam Smith’s ban on military detention of suspected terrorists arrested in the United States – all failed.

The outcome is a mixed bag:  the good news is no new restrictions were imposed on transferring Guantanamo detainees out of the detention center, and the final bill actually has slightly fewer restrictions on transfer than last year’s House version of the NDAA.  Although the attempt to sunset the open-ended war authority failed, it got more votes this year than it did last year, signaling some growing bipartisan agreement that America’s longest war needs to end.

Sadly, the House still can’t agree that we don’t need indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists in the United States.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is marking up its version of the NDAA today and will likely finish tomorrow.

Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that the president intends to veto any legislation that would require him to keep Guantanamo open, so we’ll see whether Congress can agree in conference on eliminating the remaining restrictions to transferring detainees, or whether the President will need to follow up on that veto threat. 

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Daphne Eviatar

Director of the Security with Human Rights Program at Amnesty International USA She advocates for US compliance with international law in US national security policy. Follow her on Twitter (@deviatar).