The National Defense Authorization Act has come under fire by the libertarians and the progressives. It was under this pressure that the language has been changed in regards to the detention sections 1031 and 1032.
In prior bills the sections in question would have allowed the indefinite detention of American citizens accused of terrorism, but the new language says:
SECTION 1031 –AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE
Section 1031 authorized detention
b) COVERED PERSONS.—A covered person under this section is any person as follows: (1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks. (2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported AL-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
(e) AUTHORITIES.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.
Section 1032 REQUIREMENT FOR MILITARY CUSTODY
(2) COVERED PERSONS.—The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1031 who is determined— (A) to be a member of, or part of, AL-Qaeda or an associated force that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of AL-Qaeda; and (B) to have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.
The point I am trying to make is that according to THIS bill, American citizens can not be detained at all, indefinitely.
But as section 1031 states, “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens…”
The question is, what does EXISTING law say about the detention of American citizens. That is what we need to be concerned with. If existing law states American citizens can be detained indefinitely, by the military, that is the law or laws that need to be changed. NOT this current law.
Unfortunately, we still have Senators like Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and others who supported the old version President Obama was going to VETO, which did NOT exclude American citizens.
The views of Senators like Graham still represent a grave threat to our civil liberties and any other existing law that permits indefinite detention.