It’s interesting to note how our rights as U.S. citizens are eroding. The Senate recently passed a bill which would allow a sitting U.S. president to declare the U.S. a “battlefield” and to have American citizens detained by the military indefinitely without charge. They would not be “required” to do so, but they would be allowed. Language has been tightened up so as to only include “terrorists,” but if you happen to be detained without charge on scant evidence, what are the chances of proving yourself innocent?
More on this. A friend forwarded me the following army recruitment page:
There’s an effort on FB from For the Greater Good of Americans to get the President to veto the bill, based on the fact that there is no universally accepted definition of terror, and that organized ‘coercion” might be enough to label someone a “terrorist.”
I petitioned with the ACLU on one of the links you shared above. This was the response I got from Senator Feinstein:
Thank you for writing to express your concerns about the detention provisions in the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.” I appreciate knowing your views and welcome the opportunity to respond.
This year’s defense authorization bill would, among other things, authorize funding for the U.S. Department of Defense. As you know, section 1031 would authorize the U.S. government to detain suspected terrorists until the end of hostilities, and section 1032 would require that certain suspected terrorists connected to al-Qaeda be automatically detained in military custody when apprehended.
Like you, I oppose these provisions. Section 1031 is problematic because it authorizes the indefinite detention of American citizens without due process. In this democracy, due process is a fundamental right, and it protects us from being locked up by the government without charge. For this reason, I offered an amendment to prohibit the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial or charge. Unfortunately, on December 1, 2011, this amendment failed by a vote of 45-55.
I was, however, able to reach a compromise with the authors of the defense bill to state that no existing law or authorities to detain suspected terrorists are changed by this section of the bill. While I would have preferred to have restricted the government’s ability to detain U.S. citizens without charge, this compromise at least ensures that the bill does not expand the government’s authority in this area.
I also oppose section 1032 of the defense bill, which creates a presumption that individuals associated with al-Qaeda will be held in military custody, as opposed to being processed through the criminal justice system. I disagree with this approach, and believe that the President should be able to hold captured terrorists in the military or the criminal justice systems based on the individual facts and evidence of each case. Accordingly, I offered an amendment to clarify that under section 1032, the presumption of U.S. Armed Forces detention only exists for an individual captured abroad. Unfortunately, on December 1, 2011, this amendment also failed on a vote of 45-55.
Once again, thank you for your letter. Please know that I am committed to ensuring that our nation has the appropriate tools to combat terrorism, and committed to upholding our fundamental constitutional rights. If you have any additional comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. I hope that you and your family enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season.
May I wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season.
United States Senator