(WASHINGTON D.C., 12/6/2011) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging American Muslims and other people of conscience to call on Congress and President Obama to reject the U.S. Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1867), which calls for the arrest and indefinite military detention of American citizens suspected of terrorism without charge or trial.
That request follows up on CAIR’s December 2 Action Alert, which addressed similar concerns over the Senate’s consideration of the same act.
CAIR Action Alert: Ask Senate to Reject Detaining U.S. Citizens Without Charge or Trial
Last Thursday, the Senate voted in favor of authorizing the U.S. military to arrest American citizens suspected of terrorism without charge or trial, detaining them for an indefinite length of time. The act must now be reconciled with a similar House version of the bill, which prevents the transfer of military detainees back to civilian courts.
A final version of the bill could be ready for Senate and House approval within the next two weeks. However, the president has threatened to veto the bill, citing serious legal and policy concerns.
In a provision sponsored by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), the respective chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sections 1031 and 1032 of the bill authorize the president to order the military to indefinitely hold American citizens, inside or outside of the United States, suspected of being members of al-Qaida, the Taliban or their affiliates.
SEE: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Sections 1031 and 1032)
The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill, and in a recent memo, asserted that, “applying this military custody requirement to individuals inside the United States. . .would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and leading senators have spoken out against the unconstitutional provisions of this bill.
SEE: Defense Secretary Criticizes Bill Requiring Suspected Terrorists to Be Held By Military
National Intelligence Director Criticizes Bill Requiring Suspected Terrorists to Be Held By Military
FBI Director Criticizes Bill Requiring Suspected Terrorists to Be Held By Military
“The discussion now to suspend certain rights to due process is especially worrisome given that we are engaged in a war that appears to have no end. Rights given up now cannot be expected to be returned. So, we do well to contemplate the diminishment of due process, knowing that the rights we lose now may never be restored,” said Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).
“I fear the detention provisions in this bill forget the lessons we learned from the mistakes we made when we interned thousands of innocent Japanese, Germans, and Italians, or when we destroyed the lives of supposed communist sympathizers with nary a shred of evidence of guilt,” said Senator Al Franken (D-MN).
“It is clearly unconstitutional for the military to police or indefinitely hold American citizens suspected of terrorism,” said CAIR Government Affairs Coordinator Robert McCaw. “It is imperative that we act now and remind Congress and the president that it’s their sworn duty to uphold and defend the rights and freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.”
IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, be POLITE and RESPECTFUL.)
1. CONTACT your state’s elected member of Congress by clicking here.
On the right side of the page, enter your ZIP Code. On the resulting page, click the names of your state’s elected senators. Click the “contact” tab on the resulting page for your officials’ phone numbers.
You may also contact the Capitol Hill Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (have your ZIP Code ready).
2. TALKING POINTS:
* As your constituent, I urge you to oppose any legislation that authorizes the President to order the military to indefinitely hold American citizens, at home or abroad, without charge or trial.
* I also want you to ensure that if the National Defense Authorization Act comes to a final vote and it still contains problematic language that targets American citizens for indefinite military detention, that you reject the bill.
* I believe that it is unconstitutional for the military to police or indefinitely hold American citizens suspected of terrorism, stripping them of their constitutional rights to a fair and speedy trial and hearing the charges brought against them.
3. ASK THE PRESIDENT TO VETO THE BILL
Call the President: 202-456-1111
E-Mail: Click here.
*Talking Point: Dear Mr. President, I urge you to honor your pledge and veto the National Defense Authorization Act if it contains any provision that sanctions the indefinite detention of American citizens suspected of terrorism, at home or abroad, without charge or trial.
4. INFORM YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY by forwarding this alert to at least five other people. Tell them you took action and ask them to do the same.