U.S. Defense Bill Risks National Security

The defense bill is up for debate on the Senate floor this week. This bill includes dangerous provisions that weaken effective systems already in place to combat terrorism—our federal courts and law enforcement –and allow the military to indefinitely detain any suspects of terrorism related activities including American citizens. Human Rights First has been pushing hard on Congress to strip the bill of these provisions. Watch Daphne Eviatar and Raha Wala talk about why the Senate should reject these provisions.

Federal courts have convicted over 400 terrorist suspects since 9/11,  while military commissions have only convicted 6. And our FBI and local law enforcement have the expertise and experience in investigating terrorism cases in the United States. Transferring authority to the military only weakens effective systems currently in place in the United States to combat terrorism and risks our national security. In a letter released earlier this week, Federal Bureau of Investigations Director Robert Mueller writes that these provisions “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. The defense bill will eventually head to conference to be reconciled with a House bill that is in many respects even worse that the Senate bill. National security experts have publicly expressed opposition to these provisions including Department of Defense General Counsel Jeh JohnsonObama Counterterrorism Adviser John BrennanSecretary of Defense Leon PanettaDirector of National Intelligence James Clapper, and 16 former interrogators and counterterrorism professionals. In addition, 26 of the nation’s most respected retired military leaders urged Senators earlier this week to strip the troubling provisions. And the Obama Administration has threatened to veto the defense bill if it contains the controversial detention provisions.

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Published on December 1, 2011

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