In a move that has many Americans stunned, the US Senate has voted to approve an amendment in the most recent Defense appropriations bill which would allow the military to detain American citizens on US soil indefinitely, a drastic expansion of powers which first were used to hold, without trial, enemy combatants in Afghanistan.
Could this be your new home?
In light of the Obama administration's failure to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the White House was quick to denounce the amendment and has threatened veto twice. I assume the Republican controlled House of Representatives will pass this disgusting piece of legislation, assuring a showdown between the White House and Congress:
The measure, part of the massive National Defense Authorization Act, was also opposed by civil libertarians on the left and right. But 16 Democrats and an independent joined with Republicans to defeatan amendment by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) that would have killed the provision, voting it down with 61 against, and 37 for it.
"I'm very, very, concerned about having U.S. citizens sent to Guantanamo Bay for indefinite detention," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of the Senate's most conservative members.The division of Senators who voted for and against the provision is a bit bewildering, with a sizable Republican contingent (to include Paul) voting against it and a significant bloc of Democrats siding for the amendment, to include Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Clair McCaskill (Mo.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.). The White House is staunch in its criticism of the amendment:
Rand's top complaint is that a terrorism suspect would get just one hearing where the military could assert that the person is a suspected terrorist -- and then they could be locked up for life, without ever formally being charged. The only safety valve is a waiver from the secretary of defense.
This unnecessary, untested, and legally controversial restriction of the President's authority to defend the Nation from terrorist threats would tie the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement professionals. Moreover, applying this military custody requirement to individuals inside the United States, as some Members of Congress have suggested is their intention, would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets. We have spent ten years since September 11, 2001, breaking down the walls between intelligence, military, and law enforcement professionals; Congress should not now rebuild those walls and unnecessarily make the job of preventing terrorist attacks more difficult.I'm a bit concerned that the White House didn't include in its statement: "Also, this is unconstitutional and a gross abuse of power."
I know I might be a bit "conspiracy theorist" in supposing that this is a well-timed provision coinciding with nationally coordinated attacks on Occupy Wall Street encampments. Who knows when some governor is going to decide that OWS protesters are terrorists and calls in the National Guard? Should Congress overturns the President's veto, will Occupiers run the risk that they will be moved, without justification, to Gitmo?