Legislation that allows for Americans to be arrested, detained indefinitely, tortured and interrogated — without charge or trial — passed through the Senate on Thursday with an overwhelming support from 93 percent of lawmakers.
Only seven members of the US Senate voted against the National Defense Authorization Act on Thursday, despite urging from the ACLU and concerned citizens across the country that the affects of the legislation would be detrimental to the civil rights and liberties of everyone in America. Under the bill, Americans can be held by the US military for terrorism-related charges and detained without trial indefinitely.
Additionally, another amendment within the text of the legislation reapproved waterboarding and other “advanced interrogation techniques” that are currently outlawed.
“The bill is an historic threat to American citizens,” Christopher Anders of the ACLU tells the Associated Press.
For the biggest supporters of the bill, however, history necessitates that Americans must sacrifice their security for freedom.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a backer of the legislation, says current laws protecting Americans are too lax. Rather, says the senator, anyone suspected of terrorism “should not be read their Miranda Rights. They should not be given a lawyer.”
Graham adds that suspected terrorists, “should be held humanely in military custody and interrogated about why they joined al-Qaeda and what they were going to do to all of us,” although other legislation in the bill isn’t exactly humane. Waterboarding, sleep-deprivation and other methods outlawed in the 2005 Anti-Torture Act will be added to a top-secret list of approved interrogation techniques that could be used on suspects, American or other.
Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte said last week that “terrorists shouldn’t be able to view all of our interrogation practices online,” and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) added during debate this week, “When a member of Al Qaeda or a similar associated terrorist group, I want . . . them to be terrified about what’s going to happen to them in American custody.”
“I want them not to know what’s going to happen,” added the senator and former presidential candidate.
Not only won’t they know their gruesome future, but they wouldn’t know their own rights — that’s because they won’t have any.
“We need the authority to hold those individuals in military custody so we aren’t reading them Miranda rights,” adds Kelly.
While lawmakers rallied with overwhelming support to approve the legislation against terrorists, it can also be applied to anyone, including American citizens, who are even suspected of terrorist-ties.
President Barack Obama has pledged in the past that he would veto the legislation if it made through Congress, and a White House official told the AP on Thursday that that threat still stands. As Obama is faced with a country on the brink of economic collapse so close to Election Day, however, a change of heart couldn’t be out of the question — the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 comes at a price-tag of nearly $30 billion below what Obama had asked for.