Manchin supports indefinite detention for U.S. citizens accused of terrorism

By westvirginia on December 2, 2011
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By Steven Allen Adams | West Virginia Watchdog

CHARLESTON — On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) joined with 16 Democrats and one independent to help Republicans block an amendment that would have removed a controversial provision allowing U.S. citizens to be detained by the military.

The provision is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed last night 93-7. The $662 billion bill includes a 1.6 percent across-he-board pay raise for members of the military. The bill also includes a Manchin-sponsored provision to raise the National Guard up to a position on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

But another provision Manchin supported would allow the military to detain U.S. citizens suspected of terrorist activity indefinitely without being read Miranda Rights and without due process.

Manchin explained he support for the provision in a conference call with reporters this morning.

“If you have joined the ranks of a terrorist group, an al-Qaida group, whether it’s abroad or in this country, should you still be protected? Should you be able to have your Miranda Rights read to you and say ‘you have the right to remain silent’ when we know that you have declared war on your own country and your fellow Americans? I believe that you lose that right. I believe you’re treated the same as a terrorist  from another country,” Manchin said.

“We have a war like no other war that we’ve ever been in,” he said. “It’s not a war where people are wearing uniforms and you know whose side you’re on and whose side the enemy is on as we have with past wars. This is a hidden war; people camouflaged. They attack from all different places for all different purposes. Make no mistake, they aim to do harm to America and Americans. They aim to kill Americans and America.”

The National Defense Authorization Act goes to conference committee, where the House and Senate will work out difference between their versions of the bill. Both the Defense Department and the White House have denounced the provision, with President Barack Obama threatening a veto. In a statement, the White House said the provision would tie the President’s hands.

“This unnecessary, untested, and legally controversial restriction of the President’s authority to defend the nation from terrorist threats would tie the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement professionals,” the statement said. “Moreover, 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.”

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Posted under Abuse, Congress, Judical/Legal Reform, Legislation, News, U.S. Senate, West Virginia.
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