December 12, 2011
Mr. Daniel Stafford
40 N Tower RD Apt 9n
Oak Brook, IL 60523-1120
Dear Mr. Stafford:
Thank you for contacting me regarding detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012. I appreciate hearing from you.
The Senate recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY12 (S. 1867), the companion measure to the House bill (H.R. 1540). While the bill contains a number of provisions critical to maintaining the strength of our Armed Forces and the security of our nation, there are some provisions of concern.
Sections in S. 1867 expand the military targeting and detention powers of the President and authorize the detention of individuals without charge or adequate due process for indefinite periods of time. Some provisions also make it difficult for detainees to be released from the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and ban the use of the federal court system for the prosecution of terrorism suspects, favoring military commissions for all cases.
Our commitment to principle, even during difficult times, has made America a special country. We must not allow the depravity of our enemies to cause us to abandon our nation's most fundamental values. Indefinite detention without recourse to legal proceedings is inconsistent with the principles of liberty and the rule of law that underpin our democracy.
Recognizing this, the Senate agreed on a compromise amendment, introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, that clarifies the language on detainees, excluding United States citizens, lawful resident aliens, and anyone captured or arrested in the United Sates. A number of other amendments were also resolved, including one that would give the Chief of the National Guard full voting membership on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the biggest change since the Marine Corps was given full membership in 1979.
The Senate and House are currently reconciling the differences between the two versions of the NDAA.
It is essential that the bill supports the readiness of our military and enhances its ability to protect the fundamental freedoms that we cherish. I will continue to work to ensure that the Defense Department and the Veterans Administration receive the necessary funding to keep our troops and country safe and to meet the needs of the brave men and women who have served in the armed forces.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. Please feel free to stay in touch.
Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator
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