The Senate passed a bill today allowing indefinite detention of American citizens living within the U.S.
While some have claimed that this is incorrect, and that American citizens would be exempted from the indefinite detention within U.S. borders authorized by the Act, the Committee chairman who co-sponsored the bill – Carl Levin – stated today in Senate debate that it could apply to American citizens.
Levin cited the Supreme Court case of Hamdi which ruled that American citizens can be treated as enemy combatants:
“The Supreme Court has recently ruled there is no bar to the United States holding one of its own citizens as an enemy combatant,” said Levin. “This is the Supreme Court speaking.“
Under questioning from Rand Paul, co-sponsor John McCain said that Americans suspected of terrorism could be sent to Guantanamo.
You can hear the statements from Levin and McCain on today’s broadcast of KFPA’s Letters and Politics.
As Raw Story notes:
The provision would authorize the military to indefinitely detain individuals — including U.S. citizens — without charge or trial.
“If these provisions pass, we could see American citizens being sent to Guantanamo Bay,” Rand said in the video. “This should be alarming to everyone watching this proceeding today. Because it puts every single American citizen at risk.”
“There is one thing and one thing only protecting innocent Americans from being detained at will at the hands of a too-powerful state — our Constitution, and the checks we put on government power,” he continued. “Should we err today and remove some of the most important checks on state power in the name of fighting terrorism, well, then the terrorists have won.”
“Detaining citizens without a court trial is not American. In fact, this alarming arbitrary power is reminiscent of Egypt’s ‘permanent’ Emergency Law authorizing preventive indefinite detention, a law that provoked ordinary Egyptians to tear their country apart last spring and risk their lives to fight.”
The debate is also being streamed live on CSpan-2.
While passage of the bill would make the Founding Fathers roll in their grave, it might not change that much. As former constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald notes:
With very few exceptions, the McCain-Levin bill, awful though it is, doesn’t create any powers beyond what the O Admin thinks it now has.
Indeed, the U.S. has been a de facto police state for many years.
“A MIDDLE EAST DICTATORSHIP HAS MORE DEMOCRATIC ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ABUSE OF POWER, INCLUDING TORTURE, THAN THE US UNDER OBAMA”
The same Senate is now considering a bill to repeal the prohibitions against torture:
The ACLU and over 30 other organizations sent a letter to the Senate asking them to oppose an effort in Congress that threatens to revive the use of torture and other inhumane interrogation techniques. If passed, an amendment introduced by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) to the Defense Authorization bill would roll back torture prevention measures that Congress overwhelmingly approved in the 2005 McCain Anti-Torture Amendment, as well as a 2009 Executive Order on ensuring lawful interrogations. It would also require the administration to create a secret list of approved interrogation techniques in a classified annex to the existing interrogation field manual.
In a related development, republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann renewed her attack on the prohibition of waterboarding and other forms of torture ….
Glenn Greenwald pointed out last week:
Bahrain’s Sunni government promised “no immunity” for anyone suspected of abuses and said it would propose creating a permanent human rights watchdog commission. “All those who have broken the law or ignored lawful orders and instructions will be held accountable,” said a government statement, which says the report acknowledges that the “systematic practice of mistreatment” ended shortly after martial law was repealed on June 1.
As Andrew put it: “So a Middle East dictatorship has more democratic accountability for abuse of power, including torture, than the US under Obama.” Beyond things like this and the facts set forth in the last paragraph here, perhaps Andrew could use today’s post of his to help clear up the towering mystery he raised yesterday of liberal disenchantment with Obama. That American war criminals are being aggressively shielded from any and all accountability is not an ancillary matter but one of enduring historical significance.
That’s okay, though, because – according to top military, intelligence and civilian experts on interrogation – torture:
(1) Doesn’t produce actionable intelligence
(2) Reduces national security
(3) Creates more terrorists
(4) And is only useful for:
(A) Producing false confessions; and
(B) As a way of terrorizing the population