The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mandy Simon, (202) 236-7031 or 675-2312;

Senators McCain and Lieberman Introduce Bill to Authorize Indefinite Detention

Legislation Would Also Create New System of Interrogation


bill introduced today in the Senate would hand the government the power
to indefinitely detain terrorism suspects without charge or trial,
dealing a swift blow to due process and the rule of law.

The Enemy Belligerent Interrogation,
Detention and Prosecution Act of 2010, introduced by Senators John
McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), would also create an
entirely new system of interrogation by requiring intelligence
officials to be consulted about how to handle terrorism suspects after
their capture. The bill was precipitated by misguided objections to the
Obama administration's correct decision to charge accused Christmas Day
attacker Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in the criminal court system. The
legislation would have a "high value detainee" team, made up of members
of different intelligence agencies, interrogate and determine whether
alleged terrorist suspects are "unprivileged enemy belligerents." If
so, and if the suspect is then charged, the legislation would mandate
the use of the discredited and unconstitutional military commissions.

The American Civil Liberties Union vigorously opposes the Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act.

The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"The Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act is a direct attack on the Constitution.

detention flies in the face of American values and violates this
country's commitment to the rule of law. Over the last decade, we have
seen how disregard for the rule of law has disastrous results for
America's standing in the world, and it is unfathomable that Senators
McCain and Lieberman would forget so recent a lesson. We must forever
put an end to the false and dangerous assumption that sacrificing our
principles makes us safe. We should never conclude that our ideals are
not strong enough to withstand these threats.

to what some in Congress may believe, there is no significant class of
prisoners who simultaneously cannot be prosecuted or safely released.
If evidence is too unreliable to prosecute someone, it is certainly too
flimsy to detain them for the rest of their lives without an
opportunity to defend themselves."

The following can be attributed to Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel:

indefinite detention, using military commissions is an abandonment of
American values. Our time-tested federal courts have proven themselves
capable of handling terrorism cases while upholding due process.
Federal courts have produced over 300 terrorism-related convictions
while the discredited military commissions have produced only three.
Using the commissions will result in years of delay due to legal
challenges and will yield results mired in doubt. Americans deserve

it comes to terrorism, some lawmakers continue to underestimate the
competence of our criminal justice system. Our criminal justice system
has proved repeatedly that it is capable of obtaining reliable
intelligence from terrorism suspects, while that has not always been
the case when we throw detainees into secret detention and discard all
the rules. Denying due process rights to our enemies defies the values
we are fighting to protect. The Constitution is not optional despite
the efforts of these senators to render it so."

More information on why terrorism suspects should be tried in federal court is available here:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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