Senate rejects bid to remove detainee provisions from defense bill
Washington — The Senate rejected efforts Tuesday to set aside a proposed law that would govern terrorist detention policy. Critics argue the new provisions — in the National Defense Authorization Act — could allow for U.S. citizens captured on American soil to be held indefinitely by the military as enemy combatants.
The Senate rejected by a 61-37 vote an amendment by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., that would have struck the provisions setting new rules on terror detainees.
Udall said the provisions “could damage our nation’s ability to combat terrorism and weaken our national security.Military officials and national security experts have said these provisions would give the military the power to indefinitely detain accused enemy combatants — including Americans captured on U.S. soil,” he said.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, defended the proposal. He argues that the Supreme Court has already allowed for detention of U.S. citizens.
“We can and must deal with the al-Qaida threat,” Levin said. “If it’s determined that a person is a member of al-Qaida, then that person will be held in military detention; they are at war with us, folks.”
The defense bill would give the administration “the flexibility that they want, the administration makes that determination, the procedures to make that determination.”
The White House said last week it has “serious legal and policy concerns about many of the detainee provisions in the bill.”
In a statement, the Obama administration said “some of these provisions disrupt the executive branch’s ability to enforce the law and impose unwise and unwarranted restrictions on the U.S. government’s ability to aggressively combat international terrorism; other provisions inject legal uncertainty and ambiguity that may only complicate the military’s operations and detention practices.”
Gee, Mr President, sorry to impose unwise restrictions on your Imperial whims. Maybe we can ditch the courts too, I imagine they are a pain in the butt as well.