Dear Mr. Killion,
Thank you for contacting me regarding the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. I appreciate hearing from you on this matter.
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) introduced the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 on May 5, 2011. This legislation was passed by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 93-7 on December 1, 2011, and was signed into law by President Obama on January 1, 2012. The National Defense Authorization Act is enacted each fiscal year to outline the budget for the U.S. Department of Defense. For example, this budget provides equipment for and pays the salaries of our military men and women.
The National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 includes numerous provisions that relate to the treatment of terrorism detainees. One such provision requires that any detainee caught on U.S. soil must be remanded to the U.S. military for custody. This provision was opposed by the Department of Defense who stated that it will limit current options available to our counter-terrorism officials. However, the legislation also allows the Administration to waive this ”mandatory custody” requirement. The bill also provides for an exemption for any mandatory custody transfer that would interfere with ongoing civilian law enforcement surveillance or interrogation efforts.
While I supported final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, I remain concerned about the potential impact of these provisions on American civil liberties. That is why I supported an amendment offered by Senator Feinstein that passed 99-1 which clarified that nothing in the current National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 shall affect existing law relating to the detention of United States citizens. I also supported Senator Feinstein’s amendment to prohibit American citizens from being held in indefinite detention without charge or trial.
I will continue to support a strong national defense that protects Americans from those who would do us harm, while safeguarding the civil liberties and rights that are vital to our freedom. These principles are not mutually exclusive: we can and must achieve both. We must continue to aggressively pursue terrorists, while respecting the Constitutional rights of Americans.
I am profoundly grateful for the service of our brave men and women in the armed services and for the sacrifices they have made to defend and preserve our great nation. As such, we have an important responsibility to ensure that they have the tools and resources they need to successfully complete their mission and return home safe. Please be assured that I will continue to work with my colleagues on behalf of the many soldiers in the state of Washington.
Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. You may also be interested in signing up for periodic updates for Washington State residents. If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.
United States Senator