Earlier today the Senate voted to keep a provision in S.1253 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 which would give the President authority, using the military, to indefinitely detain suspected terror suspects. This includes not only oversees, but in the United States, to include American citizens. The provision’s sponsors are Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin.
Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall proposes an amendment to the bill that was intended to remove the detainment provision. It was defeated by a vote of 61-37. In a column written for the Washington Post, Udall made the following argument:
“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.”
It was reported that Senator Rand Paul (R. – KY.) and Senator John McCain had an exchange regarding the provision, in which Paul made the following comment: “Should we err today and remove some of the most important checks on state power in the name of fighting terrorism, well then the terrorists have won. [D]etaining American citizens without a court trial is not American.”. To which McCain responded with “Facts are stubborn things. If the senator from Kentucky wants to have a situation prevail where people who are released go back into the fight to kill Americans he is entitled to his opinion.”
The White House has threatened to veto the bill over the provision claiming it will hamper current efforts of “counter-terrorism professionals, including our military commanders, intelligence professionals, seasoned counter-terrorism prosecutors, or other operatives in the field” . In addition, FBI, Pentagon, and the Director of National Intelligence have all criticized the legislation.