Thursday, December 1, 2011
The Senate today passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, S. 1867, with its several provisions dealing with the government's detention authority. Recall that the Obama Administration previously objected to several detainee-related provisions of the bill and threatened a veto.
Today's Senate vote comes after the Senate earlier this week rejected an amendment proposed by Senator Udall that would have stripped the detainee-related provisions from the bill and another amendment proposed by Senator Feinstein that would have prohibited indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens.
According to The Hill, the Senate vote, 93-7, came after an agreement to include compromise language that simply says that the bill does not alter existing law for the detention of U.S. citizens or anyone captured or arrested in the U.S. In other words, the compromise maintains the status quo and punts any hard questions to the courts. It doesn't appear to change anything in the legislation.
In particular, the bill still contains the provisions that the administration objected to: Section 1031, which codifies the government's detention authority recognized by the courts; Section 1032, which mandates military custody for certain terrorism suspects, but not for U.S. citizens and lawful residents (military custody appears to be optional for these); and Sections 1033, 1034, 1035, and 1036, which restrict the government's ability to detain and transfer detainees.