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Friday, December 16, 2011

New U.S. defense bill legalizes indefinite detention for terror suspects

 The new 2012 defense bill was passed by the House of Representatives by a 283 to 136 vote and now the Senate has passed the bill by a vote of 86 to 12. Among the provisions the bill allows for indefinite detention of terrorism suspects.
     The U.S. has been in practice doing this for some time but this bill now makes clear that it is lawful at least according to U.S. law. Now persons accused of the crime of being a terrorist does not require any charges every be brought against them and yet they can be held indefinitely. The historic right of habeas corpus is simply gone.
     One would think that Obama might veto the bill. He did actually threaten to veto the bill but not because it violated any one's rights but because it limited his own power. Obama wants to do as he sees fit with terror suspects who are US citizens. He did not even mention that the bill does away with any right to due process for suspects.
    The Senate dutifully revised the bill so that now the president will have the right to waive the requirement mandating military custody of  U.S. citizens accused of terrorism. The Obama administration even asked the principle sponsors of the bill John McCain and Carl Levin to include language that ensured the indefinite detention provisions would apply to U.S. citizens.
    The ACLU said that if Obama signs this bill into law ”it will damage both his legacy and America’s reputation for upholding the rule of law. The last time Congress passed indefinite detention legislation was during the McCarthy era and President Truman had the courage to veto that bill. We hope that the president will consider the long view of history before codifying indefinite detention without charge or trial.” The president is considering not the long view of history but the upcoming presidential elections. If Obama is seen as tough on terrorists then this will probably help him get elected. For more see this article.

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