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Senate Passes Indefinite Military Detention Bill Over Obama Veto Threat

December 3, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

On Thursday night the Senate passed the 2012 Department of Defense Authorization bill, including a provision allowing for indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens, by a vote of 93-7. The top-rated user comment on OpenCongress, from bpitas, does a good job explaining why the bill has just 2% support among the OpenCongress community:

The problem with this bill (and almost all bills that mention the word “terror”, “terrorist”, “terrorism”, or “war on terror”, like the misnamed Patriot Act) is that terrorism is a tactic, not a person or group of people. By a strict definition of “terrorism”, some tactics employed by the US army could classify them as a “terrorist organization”, but that’s not the point. Since “Terrorism” is a tactic, in order to call someone a “terrorist”, you need to give that person a fair trial and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person in question did in fact use terrorist tactics. Bills like this give the US Government the ability to skip that step and classify someone as a “terrorist” arbitrarily without a fair trial, which is no different than giving the Executive branch the power to call someone a murderer and execute them on the spot. Once you start going down that path, the potential for abuse is catastrophic! Section 1031 needs to be removed.

President Obama has threatened to veto the bill, arguing that the indefinite military detention section is an attempt by the Senate to “micromanage” the work of the Defense Department. Senators opposing the dentition provision appear to have enough votes to reject an override attempt of a veto. Earlier in the week, the Senate rejected an amendment by Sen. Mark Udall [D, CO] to strip the detention language from the bill, but the amendment did secure more than the 34 votes (2/3rds majority) that would be needed to sustain a veto. The full roll call on that amendment can be viewed here.

Pictured above are Sen. John McCain [R, AZ] and Sen. Carl Levin [D, MI], the bill’s two main authors.

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  • btrask3 12/04/2011 5:44pm

    As Hamlet’s friend Marcellus said, “There is something rotten in the state of Denmark”.
    It appears our Senators haven’t even read our Constitution, or worse…
    in their arrogant way, they show by their actions, they don’t care
    and feel that they are somehow above the foundation of our Law.

  • molonlabe 12/04/2011 7:16pm

    Rand Paul, Mike Lee and the other senators who voted against this awful bill should be commended. They could have just gone along with it like all the others but they made a stand for liberty!

  • Pupsncats 12/04/2011 8:20pm

    Whenever McCain gets together with a Democrat, you know the result will be disastrous for the American people.

    The RINO’s such as McCain have helped the Democrats pass legislation that is designed to eliminate our Constitutional rights while expanding unConstitutional power to Congress.

    All of these despots and tyrants should be impeached, tried for treason and if convicted, as they should be, thrown in prison for the rest of their lives.

  • 0ivae 12/05/2011 4:35am

    Something needs to be clarified here, as I am seeing it reported not only in the mainstream news, but even in “alternative” outlets, that the veto threat is on account of the detainment provisions applying to U.S. citizens. In fact, the administration specifically requested that citizens NOT be exempted. From the Senate debate:

    Senator Levin:

    “I wonder whether the Senator is familiar with the fact that the language which precluded the application of section 1031 to American citizens was in the bill we originally approved in the Armed Services Committee, and the administration asked us to remove the language which says that U.S. citizens and lawful residents would not be subject to this section.” -Pg. 13

  • 0ivae 12/05/2011 4:36am

    Senator Graham:

    “But why did we take out the language Senator Levin wanted me to put in about an American citizen could not be held indefinitely if caught in the homeland? The administration asked us to do that. Why did they ask us to do that? It makes perfect sense. If American citizens have joined the enemy and we captured them at home, we want to make sure we know what they are up to, and we do not want to be required, under our law, to turn them over to a criminal court, where you have to provide them a lawyer at an arbitrary point in time. So the administration was probably right to take this out.” -Pg. 45

  • davidmac29 12/05/2011 12:55pm

    And Obama need to veto this one or he will never be reelected. Imagine the commercials.

    Obama signed a bill that makes it legal to classify you, and detain you indefinitely, even at Guantanamo…

    This election season, vote for (xxxxx), vote for freedom.

  • RossC 12/06/2011 10:48pm

    NEXT QUESTION: Republican or not…why would John McCain a man who was brutally tortured BY military detention author this bill ???

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