Senate votes to authorize indefinite detention of U.S. citizens

Last week, the U.S. Senate voted to authorize the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens accused of supporting terrorism without due process.  Please take action to demand that President Obama veto this dangerous bill!

Coleen Rowley, a former FBI Special Agent wrote in the Huffington Post:

The political, military industrial, corporate class in Washington DC continues to re-make our constitutional republic into a powerful, unaccountable military empire. Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted 93 to 7 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 which allows the military to operate domestically within the borders of the United States and to possibly (or most probably) detain U.S. citizens without trial. Forget that the ACLU called it “an historic threat to American citizens”, this bill is so dangerous not only to our rights but to our country’s security that it was criticized by the Directors of the FBI, the CIA, the National Intelligence Director and the U.S. Defense Secretary! For the first time in our history, if this Act is not vetoed, American citizens may not be guaranteed their Article III right to trial.

The Atlantic published a highly critical article on its blog:

Is it lawful for the president to order any American held indefinitely as a terrorist, without formal charges, evidence presented in open court, a trial by jury, or a standard of “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”? The U.S. Senate had a chance Wednesday to assert that no, a president does not possess that power — that the United States Constitution guarantees due process.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) urged her colleagues to seize the opportunity. “We as a Congress are being asked, for the first time certainly since I have been in this body, to affirmatively authorize that an American citizen can be picked up and held indefinitely without being charged or tried. That is a very big deal, because in 1971 we passed a law that said you cannot do this. This was after the internment of Japanese-American citizens in World War II,” she said. “What we are talking about here is the right of our government, as specifically authorized in a law by Congress, to say that a citizen of the United States can be arrested and essentially held without trial forever.”


The U.S. Senate refused to affirm that American citizens arrested in the United States shouldn’t be subject to indefinite military detention on the president’s order. Senator Feinstein’s amendment to that effect went down in defeat with 55 historic votes against it.

Here are the senators who lost, the ones who wanted to protect the rights of U.S. citizens to due process:

yes on feinstein amendment.jpg


That brings us to the senators who refused to affirm that American citizens should not be held indefinitely. They were led by Republican John McCain and Democrat Carl Levin, cosponsors of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011. Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican, spoke against the Feinstein amendment on the Senate floor. “It has been the law of the United States for decades that an American citizen on our soil who collaborates with the enemy has committed an act of war and will be held under the law of war, not domestic criminal law,” he said. “In World War II it was perfectly proper to hold an American citizen as an enemy combatant who helped the Nazis. But we believe, somehow, in 2011, that is no longer fair. That would be wrong. My God, what are we doing in 2011? Do you not think al-Qaeda is trying to recruit people here at home? Is the homeland the battlefield? You better believe it is the battlefield.”

That quote is important, for Graham is saying that as long as terrorists are trying to recruit  on American soil, our homeland is a battlefield. That means a perpetual state of war. Here are the senators who refuse to affirm that American citizens retain the right to due process during this war that is supposedly being waged everywhere on earth and that has no foreseeable end in sight:

nays in feinstein amendment.jpg

Hawaiʻi residents should pay special attention.  Senator Inouye (D-HI), a person of Japanese ancestry, whose own people were unjustly interned in concentration camps during World War II simply for being Japanese, voted to maintain the indefinite detention provision of the bill.

Please take action to demand that President Obama veto this dangerous bill!

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