Yesterday afternoon, the Senate voted to keep a Defense authorization bill as is, even though the legislation contains provisions to allow the imprisonment, without time limit, of Americans seized by the government from within U.S. borders, without criminal charge. This provision within the Defense authorization legislation is clearly unconstitutional, yet, when Mark Udall offered an amendment to remove the provision from the legislation, the Senate voted against the amendment.
Senator Udall warned that, “Military officials and national security experts have said these provisions would give the military the power to indefinitely detain accused enemy combatants – including Americans captured on U.S. soil. These changes were written without consulting the Department of Defense or the law enforcement community, and they could amount to an unprecedented expansion of military power inside the United States. This expansion of military authority could limit the flexibility our government needs to combat terrorism by rebuilding walls between agencies that we’ve spent years tearing down, undermining progress we have made over the past 10 years to improve cooperation between military, intelligence and civilian law enforcement officials.”
FBI Director Robert Mueller said that the provisions establishing imprisonment without criminal charge would harm, not help, counterterrorism efforts, explaining that the legislation “may adversely impact our ability to continue ongoing terrorism investigations before or after arrest, derive intelligence from those investigations, and may raise extraneous issues in any future prosecution” of terrorism suspects.” Yet, the Senate ignored these warnings.
The vote has been cast, and the roll call shows that many Senate Democrats went along with the mostly Republican opposition to Mark Udall’s amendment.
So, what can we do now?
We can show the Democrats who voted to keep powers of arbitrary, unlimited imprisonment in the Defense authorization bill that there are consequences for their abandonment of constitutional freedoms.
The following seven Democrats are among those who voted against the Udall amendment yesterday. They are all up for re-election in 2012. Americans who believe that liberty is worth keeping, and that imprisonment of people without criminal charge is wrong, should withhold their support from these Democrats’ campaigns.
These Democrats aren’t serving American freedom in the Senate. They’ve violated their oaths of office. It’s time for them to retire back to private life.