I’ve spent the last two days digging deep into this story. Yesterday on the Randi Rhodes Show, I interviewed Congressman Raul Grijalva and Congressman Keith Ellison, both of whom expressed concern over the provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act that allow for indefinite detention of anyone suspected of being a terrorist .. or even a terrorist sympathizer. That applies to both citizens and non-citizens.
I also spoke with Politico’s Josh Gerstein who had posted “On National Defense Authorization Act, Obama Pulls Veto Threat” while the show was in progress.
On the House floor Wednesday afternoon, lawmakers disputed the impact of the bill. Some Democrats said the bill authorized a kind of permanent war and could lead to U.S. citizens being detained without trial. Republicans and a group of Democrats from the House Armed Services Committee said those fears were unjustified.
“This legislation erodes our society and our national security by militarizing our justice system and empowering the president to detain anyone in the United States, including American citizens without charge or trial, without due process,” Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) said. “If this is going to continue to be the direction of our country, we don’t need a Democratic Party, a Republican party, an Occupy Wall Street party or a Tea Party. We need a Mayflower party….this legislation goes too far.”
This morning, I was joined by both Marcy Wheeler and Jason Leopold to discuss the issue further. Marcy has been doing an amazing job covering the controversy surrounding this bill at Emptywheel.net. Just this morning, she wrote
There are two explanations for why Obama backed off his veto threat on this point, then. First, we know the Administration did make a request regarding the language in the AUMF clause, though before it issued its veto threat.
As I reported last month, the big change between the original language and the Senate bill in this clause was the removal of the language exempting US citizens from indefinite detention. And that was a change made at the request of the Administration.
The initial bill reported by the committee included language expressly precluding “the detention of citizens or lawful resident aliens 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.” The Administration asked that this language be removed from the bill.