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Politics

Rep. Tom Rooney Taking a Second Look at NDAA 'Detentions'

February 8, 2012 - 6:00pm

After voting for the National Defense Authorization Act last year, U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney is taking a second look at some of its controversial provisions.

"People have raised concerns and he's looking into it," said Michael Mahaffey, spokesman for the Tequesta Republican.

Approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, the NDAA has become a lightning rod for the left and right. Civil libertarians at the ACLU and libertarian-leaning conservatives say the act tramples on citizens' constitutional rights.

Rooney, a former attorney in the Army Judge Advocate General Corps, is digging into the "gray area" of what the federal government is authorized to do under the law, Mahaffey said.

"He will be meeting with several people over the next several days to determine if a legislative fix is necessary," Mahaffey told Sunshine State News.

The "counterterrorism" section of the law dealing with detention has raised questions about the scope of presidential authority and the potential for abuse.

White House and Senate sponsors maintained that the Authorization for Use of Military Force already grants presidential authority for indefinite detentions. NDAA states that Congress "affirms" the authority and makes specific provisions as to the exercise of it.

Critics of the law claim that NDAA would permit the president to use the military to indefinitely hold U.S. citizens arrested on American soil.

Andrew Nappi, head of the Florida Tenth Amendment Center, calls NDAA "a direct assault on the Bill of Rights."

"It says the administration is not required to keep detainees in custody, but it doesn't prevent them from doing so. There is a problem with the language," Nappi said.

Only three of Florida's 25 congressmen voted against NDAA -- Bill Posey, R-Rockledge; Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers; and Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar.

But two other congressmen -- Reps. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland; and Steve Southerland, R-Tallahassee -- have co-sponsored House Resolution 3676, which seeks to clarify NDAA's language.

"If there was no problem with the wording of the law, why are there 54 co-sponsors of a bill seeking to clarify it?" Nappi asked.

Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341.

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