Senate strikes down amendment removing military detention of terrorism suspects
The Senate rejected Nov. 30 an attempt to strip the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill (S. 1867) of language that would require the military detention of suspected terrorists captured within the United States and elsewhere. The White House has already said that President Obama may veto the bill if the language reaches his desk.
Senators defeated by a vote of 60-38 an amendment (.pdf) submitted by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) that would have replaced the language with a section requiring for a report on the extent of military authority to detain and prosecute individuals and calling for congressional hearings.
The provision excludes from military custody U.S. citizens and lawful U.S. resident aliens. It would also permit the secretary of defense to issue a waiver of the detention requirement, so long as he submits a written certification to Congress that the waiver "is in the national security interests of the United States."
Keeping the language intact would force "the military to now act as police, judge, and jailer," Udall said during floor debate.
"How do we know a citizen has committed these crimes unless they are tried and convicted? Do we want to open the door to domestic military police powers and possibly deny U.S. citizens their due process rights?" he added.
On the day before the vote, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and co-author with Sen. John McCain of the provision, made a floor statement in support of it.
"A Qaeda is at war with us. They brought that war to our shores. This isn't just a foreign war. They brought that war to our shores on 9/11," he said.
Senate leaders have said they intend to bring debate on the authorization bill to a close for a final vote on Dec. 1.
- go to the THOMAS page for S. 1867
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