Senate Poised to Pass Indefinite Detention Without Charge or Trial

December 1, 2011 10:14 pm

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Bill Will Further Expose American Citizens and Others to Military Imprisonment Based on Suspicion and Not Conviction

December 1, 2011

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WASHINGTON – The Senate is poised to pass the National Defense Authorization Act, with an extraordinary expansion and statutory bolstering of authority for the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians, including American citizens, anywhere in the world. A last-minute amendment was negotiated between Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) that passed, but does not prohibit its application to American citizens or others in the United States.

Additional amendments offered by Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Feinstein to strike and limit the detention power were defeated despite strong showings of support.

The Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the FBI, the Director of the CIA and the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division have all said that the indefinite detention provisions in the NDAA are harmful and counterproductive to their work. The White House has issued a veto threat over the provisions.

“The bill is an historic threat to American citizens and others because it expands and makes permanent the authority of the president to order the military to imprison without charge or trial American citizens,” said Christopher Anders, ACLU senior legislative counsel. “The final amendment to preserve current detention restrictions could turn out to be meaningless and Senators Levin and Graham made clear that they believe this power to use the military against American citizens will not be affected by the new language. This bill puts military detention authority on steroids and makes it permanent. If it becomes law, American citizens and others are at real risk of being locked away by the military without charge or trial.

“Given that the House version of the legislation is already very troubling, the final House-Senate negotiated bill will likely be even worse. Unless Congress somehow comes to its senses, President Obama should get his veto pen ready.”

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