Senate To Let Military Detain Americans Without Criminal Charge

Tuesday the Senate voted to keep a provision in S.1253 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 which would provide the President the power to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists.

The bill would allow the military to detain terrorism suspects found on U.S. soil and hold them indefinitely without trial. Photo: SenatorDurbin/ Flickr

Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall suggests an amendment to the bill to remove the detainment provision. However, the amendment was struck down and the bill passed with a vote of 61-37 by a vote of 61-37. 16 Democrats and one independent ignoring President Obama’s veto threat and siding with the 44 Republicans in passing the bill.

Udall explained his point of view: “For example, the provisions would require the military to dedicate a significant number of personnel to capturing and holding terrorism suspects — in some cases indefinitely — even those apprehended on U.S. soil.

And they authorize the military to do so regardless of an accused terrorist’s citizenship, even if he or she is an American captured in a U.S. city.”

“I’m very, very, concerned about having U.S. citizens sent to Guantanamo Bay for indefinite detention,” said Sen. Rand Paul, one of the most conservative members of the Senate.

One more Sen. Kelly Ayotte supported the bill without Udall’s amendment, said that “using the military to subdue terrorist operatives abroad but leaving them to the criminal justice system inside the U.S. would almost encourage [them] to come to America, unfortunately, to attack us.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin also agreed with the provisions.

“Should somebody when it’s been determined … to be a member of an enemy force who has come to this nation or is in this nation to attack us as a member of a foreign enemy, should that person be treated according to the laws of war? And the answer is yes,” said Levin.

He added that the bill could allow for a national security waiver for the administration: “These provisions have been substantially modified as a result of extensive discussions with administration officials”.

However, Obama’s administration had announced that the president “strongly objects” to the mandatory military detention provision of the bill, despite the fact that it includes a waiver.

Here’s the statement of the White House, considering the bill: “This unnecessary, untested, and legally controversial restriction of the President’s authority to defend the Nation from terrorist threats would tie the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement professionals.”

“Moreover, applying this military custody requirement to individuals inside the United States, as some Members of Congress have suggested is their intention, would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.”

“We have spent ten years since September 11, 2001, breaking down the walls between intelligence, military, and law enforcement professionals; Congress should not now rebuild those walls and unnecessarily make the job of preventing terrorist attacks more difficult.”

In an emotional debate Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the new laws can become vital to fighting terrorism. “If you join al-Qaida, you will suffer the consequences,” Graham said. “If you’re an American citizen and you betray your country, you’re not going to be given a lawyer.”

Graham stated terrorism as not a crime but an act of war. “I don’t believe fighting Al Qaeda is a law enforcement function,” Graham said. “I believe our military should be deeply involved in fighting these guys at home or abroad.”

The bill is to pass through the House this week and it is still not clear if the president will keep that veto threat. [Via NY Times, The Christian Post and Chron]

Share this article

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Coinspeaker Ltd.