01 December 2011

Indefinite Detention - of US Citizens, on US Soil?

Read this. Now.

Brief summary: the Senate just passed, as part of a larger defense bill, language that (1) requires the government to put any suspected member of Al Qaeda into military custody, and (2) creates "a federal statute saying the government has the legal authority to keep people suspected of terrorism in military custody, indefinitely and without trial. It contains no exception for American citizens."

That's a big deal.

A few brief takes:

- A friend of mine, yesterday, pointed out that, if this passes, there are going to be a heck of a lot of angry vets floating around. Do you think that the 21.8 million veterans currently living in this country are going to be pleased by this? No veteran I've talked to in the last few days (I've talked to 8) has been; they've been unanimously angered, and unanimously predicting trouble if this actually goes through.

- I don't usually agree with Rand Paul; I often find him reprehensible. But, here, as one of only two Republicans to vote for an amendment to strip this provision from the bill, I've got at least a little respect for him. I also think his quote of Jefferson is quite apropos: “The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become instruments of tyranny at home.”

- Also noted in the Slate article: "The landmark anti-terror legislation known as the Patriot Act has, in the 10 years since its passage, been used in 1,618 drug cases and 15 terrorism cases."

- This is going to pass through the House of Representatives. Easily. I'll post when it does. Obama's said he's going to veto it; I have no faith in him right now, but if he does, I'll smile. If he doesn't, this could turn into a flashpoint. Gradual chipping away of civil liberties is one thing, but allowing the military to operate on US soil, to arrest citizens without charge and hold them indefinitely, is (and should be) an enormous step.

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