On December 18, 2011 I posted An Open Letter to President Obama and all members of Congress. The following is the reply I received from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Thank you for contacting me regarding certain provisions of H.R. 1540, the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). I welcome your thoughts and comments.
It has been suggested in some press accounts and commentary that certain provisions in this bill would allow the President to detain American citizens within the United States indefinitely if the President brands them as a terrorist. That is simply not accurate.
On December 15, 2011, Congress passed H.R. 1540, which contains two sections (Sections 1031 and 1032) that address the detention of suspected terrorists. Over the past decade, the Bush and Obama Administrations have detained members of terrorist organizations, both at home and abroad, in order to protect our country and our people. The federal courts have affirmed the legality, general and specific, of such detentions. Congress added Sections 1031 and 1032 to the NDAA in order to codify the limits of detention authority.
Section 1031 establishes guidelines to allow U.S. Armed Forces to detain “covered persons” captured during hostilities as unprivileged enemy combatants, under the laws of war. A “covered person” is now defined in federal law as a person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Nothing in this section authorizes U.S. Armed Forces to capture and detain U.S. citizens for any other reason.
Section 1032 requires U.S. Armed Forces to hold in custody as an unprivileged enemy combatant any person who is a member or part of al Qaeda or associated forces, and who participated in planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners. This section clearly states that this requirement does not extend to citizens of the United States.
These two sections of the NDAA have been the subjects of some controversy. Americans are right to be concerned and vigilant about potential threats to our civil liberties. Please be assured that I and other Members of Congress reviewed Sections 1031 and 1032 of the NDAA very carefully and consulted with respected legal experts before giving bipartisan approval.
Should related detainee provisions come for consideration before the full Senate, you may be certain I will keep your views in mind.
I appreciate hearing from you, and hope that you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue that is important to you.
Kay Bailey Hutchison
United States Senator
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510