WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of lawmakers is trying to end the law that lets the military indefinitely detain people arrested in America on terrorism charges.
Ever since Congress passed the Authorization to Use Military Force against Al Qaeda and its allies after the 2001 attacks, the White House has asserted the authority to have the military seize suspected terrorists -- including Americans -- and detain them without trial as long as there is a war on terror.
That policy was enshrined in law with last year's National Defense Authorization Act, although President Barack Obama has issued rules barring authorities from detaining Americans.
But that is not good enough, said House lawmakers on Wednesday, vowing to push an amendment by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) to this year's National Defense Authorization Act that would expressly require any suspected terrorist caught in the United States or its territories to be tried in civilian courts.
"Hopefully we can be successful this week in clarifying this to make sure once and for all that we as a people don't endorse the whole notion -- which contradicts everything we should believe in -- that we could be arrested and put in secret prisons," said Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), lending his national status as a libertarian leader to the effort.
"If we don't change this, believe me, this country is in serious trouble," Paul said.