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ACTION ALERT: Key Senate Vote on Indefinite Detention


November 29, 2011
Chris Anders / ACLU

The Senate is about to vote on an amendment that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans, and your senators need to hear from you now. There could be a vote TODAY on whether Congress will give this president -- and every future president -- the power to order the military to indefinitely imprison people anywhere in the world without charges or trials. The power is so broad that even US citizens -- even within our own country's borders -- could be swept up and held by the military.

http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/senators-demand-military-lock-american-citizens-battlefield-they-define-being

WASHINGTON (November 28, 2011) -- The Senate is about to vote on an amendment that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans, and your senators need to hear from you now.

Either tonight or tomorrow, there will be a vote on whether Congress will give this president -- and every future president -- the power to order the military to indefinitely imprison people anywhere in the world without charging them or trying them. The power is so broad that even US citizens, within our own country's borders, could be swept up by the military.

The National Defense Authorization Act bill, which is on the Senate floor now, was drafted in secret and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, and includes this dangerous provision allowing worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial.

But there is a way to stop this craziness. Senator Mark Udall is offering the Udall Amendment that will delete the harmful provisions and replace them with a requirement for an orderly review of detention power. The Udall Amendment will make sure that the bill matches up with American values.

Now is the time to act. Please urge your senators to vote YES on the Udall Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.

It seems almost unimaginable that the Senate would even consider passing a provision that is such a deep affront to human rights and to American values. But, this outrageous measure could be voted on at any moment.

And because this bill is so dangerous and fast-moving, once you've petitioned your senators, please ask your friends and relatives to do the same. The only way to stop this outrage is for as many Americans as possible to contact their senators immediately.

Chris Anders is Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU

THE LETTER

Dear Senator,
I strongly urge you to vote yes on the Udall amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA).

The Udall amendment would strip sections 1031 and 1032 from the bill and in their place, mandate a process for Congress to use to consider whether any detention legislation is needed. If enacted, sections 1031 and 1032 of the NDAA would:

(1) Explicitly authorize the federal government to indefinitely imprison without charge or trial American citizens and others picked up inside and outside the United States;

(2) Mandate military detention of some civilians who would otherwise be outside of military control, including civilians picked up within the United States itself; and

(3) Transfer to the Department of Defense core prosecutorial, investigative, law enforcement, penal, and custodial authority and responsibility now held by the Department of Justice.

These provisions in the NDAA are inconsistent with fundamental American values embodied in the Constitution. I urge the Senate to vote YES on the Udall amendment and reject indefinite detention provisions tucked inside the NDAA.

Sincerely,



Senators Demand the Military Lock Up of
US Citizens in a "Battlefield" They Define as
Being Right Outside Your Window

Chris Anders / ACLU

WASHINGTON, DC (November 23, 2011) -- While nearly all Americans head to family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, the Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield -- even people in the United States itself.

Senators need to hear from you, on whether you think your front yard is part of a "battlefield" and if any president can send the military anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial.

The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president -- and every future president -- the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night's Republican debate. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.

The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday. The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.

I know it sounds incredible. New powers to use the military worldwide, even within the United States? Hasn't anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too?

And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?

The answer on why now is nothing more than election season politics. The White House, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General have all said that the indefinite detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act are harmful and counterproductive. The White House has even threatened a veto. But Senate politics has propelled this bad legislation to the Senate floor.

But there is a way to stop this dangerous legislation. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is offering the Udall Amendment that will delete the harmful provisions and replace them with a requirement for an orderly Congressional review of detention power. The Udall Amendment will make sure that the bill matches up with American values.

In support of this harmful bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that the bill will "basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield" and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial "American citizen or not." Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also declared that the bill is needed because "America is part of the battlefield."

The solution is the Udall Amendment; a way for the Senate to say no to indefinite detention without charge or trial anywhere in the world where any president decides to use the military. Instead of simply going along with a bill that was drafted in secret and is being jammed through the Senate, the Udall Amendment deletes the provisions and sets up an orderly review of detention power. It tries to take the politics out and put American values back in.

In response to proponents of the indefinite detention legislation who contend that the bill "applies to American citizens and designates the world as the battlefield," and that the "heart of the issue is whether or not the United States is part of the battlefield," Sen. Udall disagrees, and says that we can win this fight without worldwide war and worldwide indefinite detention.

The senators pushing the indefinite detention proposal have made their goals very clear that they want an okay for a worldwide military battlefield that even extends to your hometown. That is an extreme position that will forever change our country.

Now is the time to stop this bad idea. Please urge your senators to vote YES on the Udall Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.

UPDATE: Don't be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1031 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.

But you don't have to believe us. Instead, read what one of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham said about it on the Senate floor: "1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland."

There you have it -- indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial. And the Senate is likely to vote on it Monday or Tuesday.

URGENT UPDATE: The debate on NDAA has begun. Your Senator needs to hear from you RIGHT NOW! >>

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