Michael McAuliff reports that a bipartisan group of Senators Make Bid To End Indefinite Detention In NDAA, led by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), and supported by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).
Declaring that a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 put the country on a path to repeat the shame of World War II's internment camps, they argued the offending language should be stricken in this year's defense bill.
The authority to detain anyone on suspicions that they backed Al Qaeda was codified in law for the first time in the NDAA last winter, although the two most recent White House administrations have asserted since 2001 that the military has always had that authority, stemming from Congress' Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed after the 9/11 attacks.
President Obama signed the measure, despite opposing it and promising never to use the power.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who helped write that amendment, declared Wednesday that it is not good enough, and recalled seeing Japanese Americans jailed in horse stalls at a racetrack when she was a girl. .. "I believe that the time has come now to end this legal ambiguity, and state clearly, once and for all, that the AUMF or other authorities do not authorize such indefinite detention of Americans apprehended in the U.S.," Feinstein said.
Libertarian Senator Rand Paul complained of a recent report from one of our controversial new "fusion centers" now in every state to coordinate domestic spying on U.S. citizens that would have been illegal prior to the Patriot Act which Paul said:
Senator Rand asks, "Do we want to give up the right to trial by jury when we're being told that somebody who keeps food in their basement might be a terrorist?"
"From this fusion center comes a document that says beware of people who have bumper stickers supporting third party candidates," Paul said. "Beware of people who believe in stricter immigration laws. Beware of people who support the right to life. They might be terrorists.
Since we are now in a permanent "war on terror," the "temporary" enhancement of executive branch power is essential an abrogation of our constitutional rights, and civil liberties.
We progressives should take this advantage to reach across party lines and support this bipartisan effort to support our waning civil liberties against these recent assaults from the Patriot Act and NDAA.
And, speaking of which, is it not time to reopen the FISA discussions that progressive were asked five years ago to put on the back burner, with the promise we would fix as soon as the election was over?
We've waited patiently and worked hard to elect President Obama twice now, and more than proved our loyalty to this President and this Party. It is now time for this President and this Party to keep promises made to us. I ask those who demanded such support five years ago, and over the last years to now to keep their promises to those of us who complied and kept our end of the bargain.
Our constitutional rights and civil liberties are worth fighting for and are at risk.