As I noted Sunday, the Senate is poised to vote today on the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which would allow indefinite detention of American citizens living within the U.S.
While some have claimed that this is incorrect, and that American citizens would be exempted from the indefinite detention within U.S. borders authorized by the Act, the Committee chairman who co-sponsored the bill – Carl Levin – stated today in Senate debate that it could apply to American citizens.
Levin cited the Supreme Court case of Hamdi which ruled that American citizens can be treated as enemy combatants:
“The Supreme Court has recently ruled there is no bar to the United States holding one of its own citizens as an enemy combatant,” said Levin. “This is the Supreme Court speaking.“
Under questioning from Rand Paul, co-sponsor John McCain said that Americans suspected of terrorism could be sent to Guantanamo.
You can hear the statements from Levin and McCain on today’s broadcast of KFPA’s Letters and Politics:
Click to listen (or download)
As Raw Story notes:
The provision would authorize the military to indefinitely detain individuals — including U.S. citizens — without charge or trial.
“If these provisions pass, we could see American citizens being sent to Guantanamo Bay,” Rand said in the video. “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,” he continued. “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.”
The debate is also being streamed live on CSpan-2.
While passage of the bill would make the Founding Fathers roll in their grave, it might not change that much. As former constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald notes:
With very few exceptions, the McCain-Levin bill, awful though it is, doesn’t create any powers beyond what the O Admin thinks it now has.
Indeed, the U.S. has been a de facto police state for many years.