Senate Clears Way to Pass Defense Authorization Act That Allows Military to Hold US Citizens Indefinitely Without Trial

On Tuesday the US Senate voted to keep a controversial provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that allows the US military to detain terrorism suspects on U.S. soil and hold them indefinitely without trial. The measure was opposed by civil libertarians on the left and right. The senate is looking to wrap up the bill by week’s end.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke out against the measure on the senate floor this week. According to Paul, having more than 7 Days of food makes you a suspected terrorist.

Paul’s top complaint is that an American could get just one hearing where the military could assert that the person is a suspected terrorist — and then they could be locked up for life.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) discussed this provision this week on the senate floor:

James Madison, father of the Constitution, warned, “The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become instruments of tyranny at home.”

Abraham Lincoln had similar thoughts, saying “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

During war there has always been a struggle to preserve Constitutional liberties. During the Civil War the right of habeas corpus was suspended. Newspapers were closed down. Fortunately, these rights were restored after the war.

The discussion now to suspend certain rights to due process is especially worrisome given that we are engaged in a war that appears to have no end. Rights given up now cannot be expected to be returned. So, we do well to contemplate the diminishment of due process, knowing that the rights we lose now may never be restored.

My well-intentioned colleagues ignore these admonitions in defending provisions of the Defense bill pertaining to detaining suspected terrorists.

Their legislation would arm the military with the authority to detain indefinitely – without due process or trial – SUSPECTED al-Qaida sympathizers, including American citizens apprehended on American soil.

I want to repeat that. We are talking about people who are merely SUSPECTED of a crime. And we are talking about American citizens.

If these provisions pass, we could see American citizens being sent to Guantanamo Bay.

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. 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.

It’s weird that this power grab is not getting more play in the media, huh?

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  • dunce

    Trade mark McCain bill.

  • bigL

    Horrible and as usual the gOP- the permanent Lose Party- is silent. Maybe the law can be used againt the gop.

  • pink tie Republican

    Rand Paul for President!

    I like him, he is correct here, the bill is outrageous.

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  • Mama Grizzly

    Obama wants a second term so he can employ his final solution–police and military are run through drills with paid actors screaming about their rights–but they get ignored and locked up anyway.

    WHAT is in the offing here? WHAT are they planning?

    Terrorists swarming across the southern border. Small pox bioweapon? And all the military is being vaccinated against small pox specifically because of that threat.

    Just sayin’ . . .

  • More Liberty

    This is horrible. Dumbass McCain and Levin wrote this thing in secret. All the neocons voted for it of course, as did the anti-liberty pro-statist liberals.

    My Texas Senators voted against Rand’s amendment and Udahls Amendment which would have denied the citizens detainment without due process.

  • Johnny “Stanford” Davis

    Why are you so concerned about the government extending the policies it already uses to arrest terrorists who kill Americans? It would have been a travesty if they didn’t pass this bill. We know who is arguing against it: pro-terrorist liberals.

    When Obama tried to give terrorist Khaleid Shaeik Muhammed a civilian trial, the conservatives rightly attacked Obama for trying to use a pro-terrorist policy that would threaten American security. When Obama killed American citizen and terrorist leader Anwar Al-Awlaki for recruiting terrorists to kill soldiers and bring down airplanes, liberals attacked America for killing a terrorist. We must continue to kill terrorists and to not give them trials. This legislation doesn’t apply to non-terrorists, but it does apply to people like Anwar Al-Awlaki. If you support the killing on Al-Awlaki, why don’t you support this bill, that is the same thing?

  • Ohio Granny

    #Johnny “Stanford” Davis

    Who says who is a terrorist and how would we know? Basically, there is no way to know what the criteria is for arresting citizens, or what their crime is, or who is their accuser. This gives power to people without accountability. So far, the only real definition the WH and DHS have come up with referrs to the Tea Party members but not the Marxists (free speech) or the Occupiers (freedom to assembly) or the actual terrorists (too much profiling). So they can arrest those of us who have guns, who are preparing for a long winter of discontent, and who have cisterns. We are the ones who scare them the most and when they come for us, just like they came for the Jews in 1940, they will do so legally.

  • Nanna

    Ohio Granny #8

    I totally concur!!

  • Conservative to the Core

    The Waffle House Gang will be glad to hear that.

  • Johnny “Stanford” Davis

    @OhioGranny #8

    Go cry to the ACLU. Its easy to tell who a terrorist is: who threatens America and wants to kill civilians? We need clarity in our national defense. Khaleid Sheik Muhamed is a terrorist. Anwar Al-Awlaki is a terrorist. The Christmas Day Bomber is a terrorist. Do you disagree with any of those being a terrorist?

    Let me ask you, granny: Do you support America killing Anwar Al-Awlaki and holding terrorists without trials in Gitmo? It would sound like a very anti-American policy to say that America is wrong for holding terrorists in Gitmo and that America engaged in so-called “torture.”

  • RedBeard

    Ok, I’m confused. Where does the bill give the authority to treat American citizens that way? And what about this, from page 362 of the bill:


    (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS.—The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.

    (2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS.—The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United states.

  • succotash

    John McCain and Lindsay Graham are two of the responsible parties in this egregious bill. Shame on America and shame on congress for even considering such a bill. We are losing our freedom at breakneck speed.

  • martin

    Ron Paul should drop out and let his son Rand Paul run for president in 2012.

    If Ron chooses to stay in, Rand should get in the race regardless.

  • http://biggovernment gee!

    #5 bing…………..This is a dangerous bill in the hands of dangerous radical like Obama…………………….given the military power to arrest anyone and any where,even citizens in their own back-yards…………using military for other purposes than our own , such as fighting other nations war…….McCain and his side-kick Graham need a head-check …………….because they are totally insane……….

  • martin

    Old Coot McCain needs to retire.

  • StandUpChuck

    Been saying this and will say it again. Rand Paul needs to be our next president.

  • bg


    God Bless GWB..

    the last American President..

    “we the people” are not represented by Congress anymore..


  • Mark Adams

    You know, Hoft, you actually need to read the bill and stop falling in to the ACLU trap on this.

  • bg


    we rescue foreign country after foreign country..

    yet we are owned by more & more foreign countries..

    something in the USA smells like a transitioning into the NWO..