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Senate Approves Defense Bill – Awaits President's Signature

By a vote of 86-13, the Senate voted to approve the $662 Billion Defense spending bill. It passed keeping language allowing for the indefinite detention of suspected terrorist by the military.

For weeks the White House said it would veto the  bill unless the language pertaining to detention was changed. According to Fox News, there were two provisions that caused the most controversy.

“One would require military custody for foreign terrorist suspects linked to Al-Qaeda or its affiliates and involved in plotting or attacking the United States. The suspects could be transferred to civilian custody for trial, and the president would have final say on determining how the transfer would occur. Under pressure from Obama and his national security team, lawmakers added language that says nothing in the bill may be “construed to affect the existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other domestic law enforcement agency with regard to a covered person, regardless whether such covered person is held in military custody.”

The attorney general, in consultation with the defense secretary, would decide on whether to try the individual in federal court or by military tribunal. The president could waive the entire requirement based on national security.

The second provision would deny suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens seized within the nation’s borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention. It reaffirms the post-Sept. 11 authorization for the use of military force that allows indefinite detention of enemy combatants.”

The bill authorizes money for military personnel, weapons, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and national security programs in the Energy Department.

Also decided were tough sanctions aimed at Iran because of their nuclear program. Pakistan as well, to ensure that no transportation and building of improvised explosive devices (IEDs)  is taking place.

One not so covered aspect of the bill gives the National Guard a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Fulfilling a pledge Obama made when campaigning to become president.

The Senate has sent the bill to the President for his signature.
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