Detention Hall

I’ve been warning for some time that the regime of indefinite detention of terror suspects — started by Bush and continued by Obama — would not stay confined to foreign terrorist (it never really was, as Jose Padilla could tell you). Well, here we go:

Either Monday or Tuesday the Senate will vote on a bill that allows the US military to imprison civilians with no formal charges and hold them with no trial.

The ACLU reports even US citizens wouldn’t be immune as the legislation aims to declare national territory part of the “battlefield” in the War on Terror.

The bill gives the President unilateral power to detain anyone, mandates detention of civilians outside of military control and transfers control of detention to the Department of defense.

Mark Udall and Rand Paul are trying to strip this provision from the defense bill and Obama is threatening a veto. The ACLU has more here.

McCain and Levin — the authors of this provision — respond here. Almost all of their points address concerns that we’re not giving the President enough power to declare anyone to be a terror suspect and turn him over to DoD indefinitely. The closest they come to addressing civil liberties concerns is a claim that they are simply codifying what the President is already doing:

No provision in the legislation expands the authority under which detainees can be held in military custody. On the contrary, it codifies detention authority that has been adopted by two administrations and upheld in the courts. The bill states clearly that it does not expand or limit the president’s authorities under the original 2001 authorization of the use of force against al-Qaeda.

Even if this were true — and the ACLU thinks it isn’t — the detention power the Presidents have assumed since 9/11 already goes too far, is too arbitrary and has no review or oversight. To call it “Star Chamber justice” is to insult star chambers. It grants our president the power no president should ever have: the ability to declare someone an enemy and throw them into a prison for as a long as he wants. This includes American citizens caught on American soil.

Notice something else about the McCain-Levin op-ed. It includes a plethora of phrases that Terror Warriors use to try to frighten us into surrender:

the unprecedented kind of war that came to our shores on Sept. 11, 2001 … the threat posed by al-Qaeda … al-Qaeda terrorists who participate in planning or conducting attacks against us …

Whenever I see these asides in an article, post or speech, I know what follows is likely bullshit. They are the War on Terror’s answer to liberal asides like “corporate power” and “wealth disparity”. They are the grease for the multi-pronged dildo that is to follow.

Al-Qaeda is waning as a threat. This President has taken out their nominal leader and most of their upper echelons. And the response is … to increase our government’s anti-terror powers? What McCain and Levin are unwittingly revealing is what civil libertarians have been claiming all along: that this was never about terrorism; this was about increasing government’s power.

Comments are closed.

  1. JimK

    This may make me a bad person – and I honor his service to this country in uniform, and respect his ordeal as a POW – but honestly, I’m at the point where I sort of hope John McCain gets very ill and has to leave politics. I simply cannot tolerate any more big government bullshit from this RINO.

    Thumb up 7

  2. FPrefect89

    I got a few more then just down my spine. My whole body, and it reminded me of a quote from one of the new Star Wars movies, “This is how the empire ends…” Do not remember the entire quote, or which movie, but all the cheerleaders for this scare me.

    Thumb up 0

  3. Seattle Outcast

    There are just so many fucking cliche’s here it’s sickening. The most apt one is “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and these fuckers are going for absolute power.

    How is this NOT a direct violation of the constitution?

    Thumb up 4

  4. blameme

    But hey – let’s give them control of our healthcare AND pass stricter controls on guns. Oh, and more money via taxes.

    I mean, government is inherently good, right?


    Thumb up 3

  5. AlexInCT

    Because they say it is not. Don’t you know that only rethuglicans violate the constitution?

    Seriously, I am more concerned about the excuses or lack of interest from those that would have screamed bloody murder if Bush had done this but now can’t be bothered with the whole thing despite Obama now making Bush look like a piker on all this stuff.

    Thumb up 0


    I hate to be all melodramatic about this, but if this passes, how long would i take to redefine the parameters for the definition of terrorist?

    LEE, warned us about this shit way back when….

    Thumb up 3

  7. Mississippi Yankee

    I posted about this in a comment last night BUT THEN I got some REAL facts and asked to have the comment deleted.

    ..Subtitle D–Detainee Matters
    ….(b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-
    …..(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
    Looks like we’re rising to ACLU bait on this one. If ACLU does not like something, usually that means we should like it.

    Now take a deep breath and rant about all the other b.s in the bill

    Thumb up 0

  8. Hal_10000 *

    MY, I’m not seeing that this refutes the point. I need to look at it more closely, but saying something isn’t required isn’t the same as saying it can’t be done. The legal language may be confusing me though.

    Thumb up 0

  9. Mississippi Yankee

    The bold print was my doing (the bolding of) of the original italicized text. But it was all from the bill.

    And as long as honest people don’t over-react and allow falsehoods to be spread this fascism can be stopped, once again. And by ‘honest’ I mean people armed with facts, existing laws and the forethought to stay away from disingenuous and dishonest tactics.

    This administration and the entire DNC are in “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” mode. they’re panicked because this presidency did not work out as planned. Helping them by taking their bait will be quite counter-productive IMHO.

    Thumb up 0

  10. Mississippi Yankee

    McCain danced all over the place rather than give a direct answer to sen. Paul’s question.

    See this makes my point about not being disingenuous and dishonest.
    Goes for you as well as McCain. Better heads seemed to have prevailed tho…

    Thumb up 0

  11. Xetrov

    MY, IMO you’re missing something in how you’re reading the law. Remember, Legal wording is very specific.

    Full text of the pertinent sections here –

    Section 1031 authorizes the detention –


    (a) In General- Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.

    (b) Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows:

    (1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.

    (2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.

    (c) Disposition Under Law of War- The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:

    (1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

    (2) Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (title XVIII of Public Law 111-84)).

    (3) Transfer for trial by an alternative court or competent tribunal having lawful jurisdiction.

    (4) Transfer to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.

    (d) Construction- Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

    (e) Requirement for Briefings of Congress- The Secretary of Defense shall regularly brief Congress regarding the application of the authority described in this section, including the organizations, entities, and individuals considered to be `covered persons’ for purposes of subsection (b)(2).

    There’s no exclusion in that section for US Citizens being detained.

    Section 1032 that you quoted previously pertains only to Section 1032 and the rules of how someone is detained (bolded the pertinent wording for you), not who can be detained –


    (a) Custody Pending Disposition Under Law of War-

    (1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (4), the Armed Forces of the United States shall hold a person described in paragraph (2) who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) in military custody pending disposition under the law of war.

    (2) COVERED PERSONS- The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1031 who is determined–

    (A) to be a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of al-Qaeda; and

    (B) to have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.

    (3) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR- For purposes of this subsection, the disposition of a person under the law of war has the meaning given in section 1031(c), except that no transfer otherwise described in paragraph (4) of that section shall be made unless consistent with the requirements of section 1033.

    (4) WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY- The Secretary of Defense may, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the Secretary submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States.

    (b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-

    (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.

    (2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien 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…

    There’s more to section 1032, but it doesn’t pertain to the topic at hand.

    As I read it, a US Citizen can be detained indefinitely under section 1031, and the guidelines outlined in section 1032 do not pertain to them.

    Thumb up 0

  12. Mississippi Yankee

    MY, IMO you’re missing something in how you’re reading the law.

    I’m the first to admit my legal education is non-existent. Which is why I can’t understand why sec. 1032 and sec. 1031, of the same bill, are being viewed as complete separate entities. It’s as if one deliberately conflicts with the other.

    Was this the plan all along?

    Thumb up 0

  13. Xetrov

    Because section 1032 specifically has the words “under this section” when singling out US Citizens. Not “under this law”.

    1031 – Anyone can be detained indefinitely by the military if they are deemed to be tied to terrorism.

    1032 – Here is how we treat those detained people – except US Citizens.

    There’s much more to the law than those two sections. By and large 95% of that law doesn’t have anything to do with the controversial section 1031. If politicians wanted to eliminate the controversy, they could easily have put the US Citizens exclusion in section 1031, or included the words “and the preceeding section” in 1032. They didn’t do either, so something else is going on.

    Thumb up 3

  14. HARLEY

    We have already have had government, and elected officials call the ea party supporters terrorists. It is only a matter of time.

    Thumb up 0