House Passes Funding Bill With World-Wide War and Detention Authority
Yesterday, the House passed its version of the the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (available here.) The roll call vote is here. The bill, which is a renewal of the 2001 authority for war, expands the authority world-wide. The bill passed by a vote of 322-96 and contains a $553 billion Pentagon base budget and $119 billion for overseas contingency operations.
It also blocks federal criminal trials of suspected terrorists who are not U.S. citizens. An amendment to strike the worldwide war provision failed. Obama has promised to veto the bill due to the world-wide war authority provision.
The bill also delays implementation of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and provides that those considered for indefinite detention at Guantanamo may not be represented by legal counsel, only a military representative. It also prohibits the Guantanamo detainees from receiving family visits. [More...]
The ACLU says:
The worldwide war provision was added to the bill by the committee's chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), and goes much further than the current authorization of war. The new authorization would last as long as there are terrorism suspects anywhere in the world and would allow a president to use military force in any country around the world where there are terrorism suspects, even when there is no connection to the 9/11 attacks or any other specific harm or threat to the United States.
The world-wide war provision has no expiration date. It means the current and any future president can decide to go to war anywhere in the world without additional congressional authorization. There isn't even a requirement that the president show a threat to our national security.
The bill essentially mandates military detention for anyone who could possibly be considered an "unprivileged belligerent" (the new term for "unlawful enemy combatant").
On indefinite detention:
the President’s authority includes the authority to detain belligerents, including persons ... until the termination of hostilities.
Also, if I'm reading the bill correctly (and I read it quickly), once put in military detention, the detainee can't transfer back to the civilian courts.
No individual who is eligible for detention pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) may be transferred or released to or within the United States, its territories, or possessions."
It also has huge restrictions on the transfer of non-U.S. suspects from Guantanamo back to their home countries or third-party countries, including this one:
The Secretary of Defense may not transfer any individual described in paragraph (5) to the custody or effective control of the individual’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity if there is a confirmed case of any individual described in paragraph (5) who was transferred to the foreign country or entity and subsequently engaged in any terrorist activity.
And those Combatant Status Review Tribunals (also known as CSRTs)? Who makes the recommendation? A panel of "operations, intelligence, and counterterterrorism officials". The detainee can't have a lawyer.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to begin its markup of the bill on June 13.
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