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Senate proposal to authorize torture and indefinite detention

The Senate will soon vote on S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The bill authorizes $663 billion in military spending for the fiscal year that began October 1. This is considered "must pass" legislation, since it funds the military-industrial complex and our endless war. (Probably the best thing for the nation and the world would be for it to fail to pass, forcing us to bring the troops home and freeing up that $663,000,000,000 for peaceful uses, but, fat chance of that.)

Two potential provisions of this bill threaten to return us to the worst abuses of the Bush era.

One proposed amendment would override Obama's Executive Order 13491 which directs military interrogations to use only lawful methods described in the Army Field Manual -- i.e., to not torture. Instead, this proposed amendment (1068) requires the Secretary of Defense to produce a classified annex to the Field Manual with additional techniques that can be used on "high value" detainees -- i.e., making the use of torture a state secret.

Another set of proposals, this one in the current text of the bill (Sections 1031 and 1032), would create indefinite military detention without trial or due process for anyone accused of being a supporter of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces. This includes U.S. citizens. (Section 1032 excludes U.S. citizens, but 1031 does not.) As Chris Anders of the Washington Legislative Office of the ACLU put it,

In support of this harmful bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that the bill will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial “American citizen or not.” Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also declared that the bill is needed because “America is part of the battlefield.”

More analysis at TalkLeft and The New American, to give you both left and right slanted perspectives that both agree this sucks.

Please join with the ACLU in opposing a return to torture and in opposing endless detention.


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