The House passed the controversial National Defense Authorization Act on Wednesday night, scarcely hours after President Obama caved to pressure from various factions in Congress and withdrew his veto threat.
Let’s consider some of the scary tactics that would be permitted if the measure is signed into law, primarily involving the treatment of suspected terrorists abroad and on U.S. soil. You know it’s bad when the head of the FBI is apparently more concerned than the majority of Congress about the potential damage to Americans’ civil liberties that this bill could inflict. —KA
AP via USA Today:
Uncertainty was a major concern of FBI Director Robert Mueller, who expressed serious reservations about the detainee provisions.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mueller said a coordinated effort by the military, intelligence agencies and law enforcement has weakened al-Qaeda and captured or killed many of its leaders, including Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical Islamic cleric. He suggested that the divisive provision in the bipartisan defense bill would deny that flexibility and prove impractical.
“The statute lacks clarity with regard to what happens at the time of arrest. It lacks clarity with regard to what happens if we had a case in Lackawanna, N.Y., and an arrest has to be made there and there’s no military within several hundred miles,” Mueller said. “What happens if we have … a case that we’re investigating on three individuals, two of whom are American citizens and would not go to military custody and the third is not an American citizen and could go to military custody?”
Unnerving many conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, the legislation also would deny suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens seized within the nation’s borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention. House Republican leaders had to tamp down a small revolt among some rank-and-file who sought to delay a vote on the bill.
Some of the Republicans were concerned that the “president would use the military to round up American citizens,” said Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., a member of the Armed Services panel.
The escalating fight over whether to treat suspects as prisoners of war or criminals has divided Democrats and Republicans, the Pentagon and Congress.