News Release ~ 12/02/2011

America One Step Closer to Codifying Indefinite Detention Without Charge

Washington, DC (December 2, 2011) – Late last night, in the face of a presidential veto threat, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act containing some of the most harmful legislation to our criminal justice system adopted since September 11, 2001. Drafted by the Senate Armed Services Committee in two closed sessions, and without any public hearings to determine the effects of this legislation, this bill would authorize the indefinite detention without charge or trial of suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens.

The legislation would also require military detention of certain terrorism suspects, effectively authorizing the military to act as law enforcement within the United States. This mandatory military custody provision would have a negative impact on the ability of the criminal justice system to fight terrorism. While keeping Guantanamo open, the bill would also continue an onerous certification requirement that makes it essentially impossible for the administration to transfer detainees, even those already cleared for release or transfer by the Bush and Obama administrations, to their home or third countries.

In addition to White House opposition, this legislation passed against the advice of our most trusted national security experts: the Director of National Intelligence, Director of the FBI, Director of the CIA, and the head of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice.

In the coming days, the bill will go to conference, providing one final opportunity for the Members of Congress to do the right thing and send a clean bill to the President for his signature. Otherwise, NACDL urges the President to veto this legislation.

In calling for President Obama to veto this legislation, NACDL President Lisa Wayne explained, “Ten years after the Bush administration created the flawed military commissions system at Guantanamo Bay, the debate in Washington continues to be full of political rhetoric and lacking in fact and law. America’s criminal justice system has played an important role in protecting our national security. Since September 11, there have been more than 400 terrorism-related trials completed in the traditional criminal justice system, and there has been no evidence that the federal criminal process is incapable of ensuring effective law enforcement and justice for the accused.”

Contact: Ivan Dominguez, Deputy Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 10,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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