Pointing to the threat of terrorist groups like al-Qaida, Sen. Carl Levin and 60 of his colleagues voted Wednesday in favor of keeping provisions in the proposed National Defense Authorization Act that would grant the military the ability to detain terrorist suspects abroad and at home under controversial circumstances. Amy Goodman gave us a heads-up about the vote and its implications on Tuesday’s broadcast, but even warnings from the likes of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and FBI chief Robert Mueller didn’t sway the majority of senators to vote down the measures. So now it’s up to President Obama and his executive veto powers to stop the legislation in its tracks. —KA
The New York Times:
The most disputed provision would require the government to place into military custody any suspected member of Al Qaeda or one of its allies connected to a plot against the United States or its allies. The provision would exempt American citizens, but would otherwise extend to arrests on United States soil. The executive branch could issue a waiver and keep such a prisoner in the civilian system.
A related provision would create a federal statute saying the government has the legal authority to keep people suspected of terrorism in military custody, indefinitely and without trial. It contains no exception for American citizens. It is intended to bolster the authorization to use military force against the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which lawmakers enacted a decade ago.
The administration has strongly opposed the mandatory military custody provision, saying it “would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.”