Wright trying to blunt federal anti-terrorism law

DENVER — On the surface, it may seem that Rep. Jared Wright’s bill to bar law enforcement from cooperating with federal agents when it comes to arresting terrorist suspects isn’t a state issue, but it really is, the Fruita Republican said Wednesday.

In the 1940s, several local governments approved ordinances that called on their local police to help the federal government round up Japanese-Americans and move them into internment camps.

A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, which stems from the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., is no different, Wright told the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee about his measure, HB1045.

Under the act, federal authorities have the right to arrest anyone they deem terrorist suspects and detain them without trial for an indefinite period.

To Wright and others from both sides of the political aisle, that’s a huge infringement on their constitutional rights and is no different than what happened to Americans of Japanese descent during World War II.

Wright said that although he doesn’t expect his bill will stop federal agents from following federal law, it would prevent state and local law enforcement from participating in what he believes is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and court precedent.

“This bill protects the people of the state of Colorado from the erosion of their rights that we are currently seeing encoded in federal law,” Wright told the committee. “Those rights being habeas corpus, (and) the rights under the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, 10th and 14th amendments.”

The issue has spurred national discussion centered on the detainment of terrorist suspects without trial at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba.

It has even caught the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that has long called for the closure of the camp and public trials for those held there.

Wright believes he has the votes to get the bill onto the floor of the House and plans to offer an amendment to exempt the Colorado National Guard to help him do that.

“That’s what shocks a lot of people, that they don’t think that far back into our history,” Wright said. “This has actually occurred, and at a time of war. We’re in a time of war now, a war on terror. We now see some of those similar attitudes, and it’s slipping into policy.”

The committee did not vote on the measure Wednesday.


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