Senator Coons disappointed indefinite detention provisions survived 2013 NDAA
When the Senate debated the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act last month, included among its provisions was an amendment to repeal powers granted to the U.S. military in last year's NDAA to indefinitely detain American citizens.
Senator Coons, who pledged last December to work to remove those powers, cosponsored the amendment and praised the Senate's progress on Twitter:
The Senate just passed our amendment to ban indefinite detention of US citizens without a trial. It's about time we got this right.— Senator Chris Coons (@ChrisCoons) November 30, 2012
That progress was short-lived, however, and the amendment was stripped out of the bill when Senate and House negotiators met to reconcile the chambers' versions of the legislation. As a result, the military's power to detain American citizens indefinitely has survived.
Here's how Senator Coons reacted to the news:
"As a nation, we must strike the essential balance between national security and civil liberties. I am deeply disappointed that the final version of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act fails this test by removing an amendment I cosponsored, along with Senator Feinstein, to prohibit the indefinite detention of American citizens by the military."
"The detention authorities provided by this legislation were not requested by the Pentagon and will not make us safer. At the same time, they erode the fundamental promise of our Constitution – that an American citizen has a right to due process of law. Our civilian criminal justice system has proven itself capable — time and again — of obtaining convictions and tough sentences for terrorists that act on our soil. Civilian trials not only provide tough sentences for terrorists, but they also protect all of us from the prospect of facing a military tribunal for a crime we did not commit."
"We live in a dangerous world, and we must ensure our military has the tools and resources they need to keep us safe. But threats to our safety are no excuse for curtailing the liberties guaranteed to every American citizen by the Founders of our country."