ACTION ALERT: Stop Senate Bill Authorizing Military Detention of US Citizens in the US
July 8, 2011
ACLU & Disappeared News & The New York Times
Because of our collective action, the Defense Authorization bill is headed for the Senate floor without a provision that would have granted this and all future presidents a blank check to involve the US in a worldwide war without end. Unfortunately, the Senate bill includes several dangerous provisions that would erode our civil liberties by giving the military expanded powers to investigate and detain civilians both abroad and inside the United States.
ACTION ALERT: Urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on efforts to expand military detention
Laura W. Murphy / American Civil Liberties Union
WASHINGTON (July 7, 2011) -- We've achieved a huge breakthrough. Because of our collective action, the Defense Authorization bill is headed for the Senate floor without an outrageous provision that would have granted this and all future presidents a blank check to involve the US in a worldwide war without end.
Although we succeeded in defeating the worldwide war provision, the Senate bill includes several dangerous provisions that would erode our civil liberties by giving the military expanded powers to investigate and detain civilians both abroad and inside the United States.
Urge Senator Leahy and the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold immediate public hearings on these provisions by clicking here.
ACLU: Help Stop Senate Bill Authorizing Military Detention of US Citizens in the US
Larry Geller / Disappeared News
WASHINGTON (July 6, 2011) -- The ACLU sent out an action alert via email today. I think it's important enough that I'll snip most of it for you to read, and (I hope) take action as they suggest. Just look at what the Senate bill will do, if passed into law. At least read the parts beginning with asterisks.
You can find out how to reach Senator Leahy and our own state representatives at Congress.org.
Urge Senator Leahy and the Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on efforts to restore McCarthy-era military detention policies.
… the Senate bill includes several dangerous provisions that would erode our civil liberties by giving the military expanded powers to investigate and detain civilians both abroad and inside the United States.
Urge Senator Leahy and the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold immediate public hearings on these provisions.
If enacted in its current form, the Senate bill would:
* Explicitly authorize the federal government to indefinitely imprison without charge or trial civilians arrested within the United States itself, including some U.S. citizens.
* Mandate military detention of some civilians who would otherwise be outside of military control, including suspects arrested within the United States itself.
* Transfer to the Department of Defense core prosecutorial, investigative, law enforcement, penal, and custodial authority and responsibility now held by the Department of Justice.
We need a full public examination of these dangerous measures before this bill reaches the Senate floor. Please act now. Urge Senator Leahy and the Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on efforts to restore McCarthy-era military detention policies.
We proved our ability to have a big impact when we successfully challenged efforts to authorize worldwide war without end. Now, we have to do the same on attempts to dramatically expand military involvement in investigating and detaining civilians, including on U.S. soil. We don't have much time. Please contact Senator Leahy today. Thanks for acting,
Laura W. Murphy is the Director of ACLU's Washington Legislative Office
Senate Armed Services Committee Says "No" to Worldwide War; Overreaches on Indefinite Detention
Hooray! With your help, we prevented the Senate from authorizing the president to engage in worldwide war.
For months, we have been pushing to prevent Congress from passing legislation that would give this president (and any of his successors) the authority to engage our country in a worldwide war without a defined enemy.
A couple of weeks ago, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012 (NDAA), H.R. 1253. The committee recently released the official language — and the worldwide war authority provision was nowhere to be found!
We can take only a moment to pat ourselves on the back because the fight is far from over. We now need to turn our attention to the devastating indefinite detention provisions that the committee did include in the bill. These provisions are inconsistent with fundamental American values embodied in the Constitution and in this country's adherence to the rule of law.
If enacted, the provisions could:
* authorize the federal government to imprison indefinitely without charge or trial civilians — including American citizens— apprehended both inside and outside the United States, including individuals who had no role in the 9/11 attacks or any actual hostilities (the bill would mark the first time since 1950 that Congress explicitly authorizes the detention without charge or trial of American citizens)
* mandate military detention of some civilians who would otherwise be outside of military control, including civilian suspects apprehended within the United States itself
* transfer to the Department of Defense core prosecutorial and investigative responsibilities now held by the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons, and the Marshals Service, as well as by the state attorneys general of the 50 states.
These provisions could significantly cut back on the historic protections provided to American citizens by the Non-Detention Act of 1971 and to all U.S. residents by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. To ensure that Congress adheres to the laws of our nation's Constitution, it is of the utmost importance that the proper committee presides over such critical national security decisions.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, not the Senate Armed Services Committee, has jurisdiction over whether state and federal civilian law enforcement will continue to have authority over civilian suspects who are not otherwise under military control, and over whether the military may carry out the domestic law enforcement function of detaining civilian suspects picked up within the United States.
Therefore, we are encouraging the Senate Judiciary Committee to assert its jurisdiction and prevent military control over what should be federal, state and local law enforcement decisions.
Last Friday, we sent this letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee asking them to assert their jurisdiction over these issues. Please join our efforts and take action. We saw great success on the worldwide war provision earlier this summer and we need your help again.
Urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on these provisions, and to assert its jurisdiction to markup sections 1031, 1032, and 1036 before the NDAA goes to the Senate floor And check back here for the latest on the NDAA!
Senate Offers Revised Rules for Suspects of Terrorism
Charlie Savage / The New York Times
WASHINGTON (June 23, 2011) -- The Senate Armed Services Committee has voted for a sweeping and bipartisan package redefining the rules for detaining terrorism suspects, including giving military judges the power to review the cases of prisoners in Afghanistan and mandating military detention for important Qaeda suspects — even if they are captured on United States soil.
The panel approved the package last week 25 to 1 as part of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, and it released a brief summary of the act as a whole. But its detention aspects have received scant attention because the vote took place in a closed session and the text of the legislation has not been made public.
The bill, which now goes to the Senate floor, could be unveiled Friday. Its contents related to the detainee deal — whose architects included the committee chairman, Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, and two leading Republicans on the committee, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina -- were described in greater detail by a legislative aide.
One section would direct the military to set up a system of status hearings for prisoners it intends to hold in “long-term custody” in places like the prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where about 1,700 men are currently being held without trial. The hearings would be before a military judge, and the prisoners would be represented by a military lawyer.
Under the provision, if the judge were to find that such a prisoner is not an enemy combatant and is being held by mistake, the prisoner could win release. The legislation does not define crucial details, like what counts as “long term” and whether there would be any appeal process.
It is not clear how executive branch officials will react to that provision. Both the Bush and Obama administration have fought to prevent detainees in Afghanistan from having habeas corpus rights in federal court, and executive branch officials have previously expressed concerns that requiring military versions of such hearings for all prisoners would strain resources, the aide said.
Another provision would mandate military detention for people suspected of being “high value” terrorists from Al Qaeda: members of the organization who participated in planning or conducting attacks on the United States. The mandate would exclude United States citizens, and it would allow the secretary of defense to send detainees to the civilian criminal justice system at his discretion.
Andrea J. Prasow of Human Rights Watch called that provision an “outrageous” undermining of prosecutorial discretion, adding that “mandatory military detention is what martial-law states do, not democracies.”
The measure would affect detainee issues in other ways:
¶ Making permanent a restriction against using military funds to build a prison inside the United States to house Guantánamo detainees.
¶ Allowing defendants in military commissions to plead guilty in capital cases.
¶ Codifying in federal statute a parole-board-like system of annual reviews for detainees that President Obama established by executive order this year.
¶ Making permanent a steep set of conditions, previously imposed by Congress as a temporary measure, that must be met before a Guantánamo detainee may be transferred to another country, but also authorizing the secretary of defense to make exceptions to the rules in certain cases.
¶ Declaring that the existing authorization to use military force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks includes the power to detain members of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces.
The provision defining who can be detained is less sweeping than a similar provision in the House version of the bill. Critics have said that version as amounting to a new authorization of open-ended war severed of any connection to the Sept. 11 attacks.
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