Dear Mr. Perry:
Thank you for writing to express your concerns about the detention provisions in the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.” I appreciate knowing your views and welcome the opportunity to respond.
This year’s defense authorization bill authorizes funding for the U.S. Department of Defense. As you know, section 1021 authorizes the U.S. government to detain suspected terrorists until the end of hostilities, and section 1022 requires suspected terrorists connected to al Qaeda be automatically detained in military custody when apprehended.
I strenuously opposed both these provisions during Senate debate and offered amendments to prohibit the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial or charge and to clarify that the presumption of military detention only exists for individuals captured abroad.
Unfortunately, on December 1, 2011, one of my amendments failed by a vote of 45-55 in the Senate.
I was, however, able to reach a compromise with the authors of the defense bill to state that no existing law or authorities to detain Americans are changed by section 1021. While I would have preferred to have restricted the government’s ability to detain U.S. citizens without charge, this compromise ensures the government’s authority in this area does not expand.
I continue to believe that Congress should explicitly prohibit indefinite military detention without charge or trial. To that end, I have introduced the “Due Process Guarantee Act” (S. 2003) to guarantee that a congressional authorization for military force does not usurp the right to due process for American citizens apprehended on U.S. soil.
A bipartisan group of senators have cosponsored this important legislation that will preserve this fundamental American right. The legislation has been referred to the Judiciary committee where it will be the subject of an upcoming hearing.
Americans all across the country believe, as you do, that the government cannot indefinitely detain American citizens inside this country without trial or charge. Since you cared enough to write me about this important issue, I’m going to ask for your help. Please continue to speak out and contact members of Congress
urging them to support the “Due Process Guarantee Act.” We need your help.
Once again, thank you for your letter. I am committed to ensuring that our nation has the appropriate tools to combat terrorism, and committed to upholding our fundamental constitutional rights. If you have any additional comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841.
United States Senator