On Imprisonment without Charge, Trent Franks Read the Constitution, But He Didn’t Hear It

On January 6 2011, Trent Franks read the Constitution.  Apparently, he didn't hear it.On January 6 2011, U.S. Representative Trent Franks participated in a show in the U.S. Capitol Building: the reading of the United States Constitution. Rep. Franks was assigned to read the Fifth Amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

No person in America is supposed to be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. In America, you can’t just throw someone into jail forever. You’re supposed to accuse them of something, and you’re supposed to have to provide evidence, and a jury of the accused peers is supposed to decide whether the evidence proves what the government says it does, and it’s all supposed to be in public to make sure that the process is carried out fairly. That’s in the next clause of the Constitution, the Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Trent Franks read the Constitution on January 6 of this year, but it seems he didn’t listen to the words. Less than a year later, Rep. Franks voted to pass H. 1540, a bill that allows the government to throw people into detention forever, without charges, without trial, without any of the constitutional guarantees that Trent Franks read but did not hear that day.

Trent Franks: pro-Constitution when the cameras are rolling, anti-Constitution when no one is paying attention.


on “On Imprisonment without Charge, Trent Franks Read the Constitution, But He Didn’t Hear It
3 Comments on “On Imprisonment without Charge, Trent Franks Read the Constitution, But He Didn’t Hear It
  1. Trent Franks didn’t read the legislation.

    You really ought to consult the text of the bill, before you carry the remarks of this ignoramus ever again. I certainly will remember his name.

    You are talking about the National Defense Authorization Bill of 2012, and you can track it under .
    HR 1540. It’s about what to do with the GITMO detainees, not US citizens.
    You are interested in Title X, subtitle D – Detainee Matters
    Section 1031 contains a recitation of the authority governing this subtitle. It is background, and is explicitly provides that this law DOES NOT CHANGE the prior law at sections (d) and (e):

    “(d) Construction- Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.”

    “(e) Authorities- Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.”

    You also need to pay attention to the next section.
    Section 1032(b) (1) specifically states that this subtitle does NOT apply to American citizens.
    “(b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-
    (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
    (2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.”

  2. You need to read more than the text of the bill, and to read the text of the bill more carefully, Valerie. First, administration officials and members of Congress alike already publicly construe the law to allow them to detain citizens, so the “does not change” language is not applicable. Second, Americans are not the only people covered by the Constitution. The Constitution covers people, not just citizens; you’re conflating people with citizens.

    You neglected to print subsection b)2), which describes who’s covered:

    19 (2) A person who was a part of or substantially
    20 supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces
    21 that are engaged in hostilities against the United
    22 States or its coalition partners, including any person
    23 who has committed a belligerent act or has directly
    24 supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

    Finally, Section 1032(b)(1) does not REQUIRE citizens to be detained in military custody. It does, however, permit it.

    Valerie has selectively quoted to make a point that isn’t as solid as her selective quote makes it appear to be. I encourage everyone to read the entire passages in context at:


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