U.S. Citizens suspected of terrorism and caught on U.S. soil forfeit their rights to due process and the presumption of innocence underlying the Constitution.
That appears to be the current position of the Senate, according to many legal analysts and some in Congress, unless President Obama vetoes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed on Tuesday.
Two provisions that have survived heated debate in the massive NDAA, also called Senate Bill 1867, are causing these concerns. Once the House and Senate bills are reconciled, they will head to the President’s desk to be signed into law, or struck down with the veto pen.
The NDAA bill, which passed 97-3 in the Senate, would fund a huge swathe of military operations for 2012. But tucked into the bill are provisions dealing with detention of terrorism suspects that cut deeply into the Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of U.S. citizens in the post-9/11 era. Now referred to by some as the “indefinite detention bill,” it has caused a firestorm of controversy from disparate corners of government and American society.
The controversial components of the bill can be broken down into two parts. The first questionable portion of the bill (section 1031) explicitly exempts U.S. citizens, and according to Slate, states that the government would be mandated 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.. [and] 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.”
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