SoCal Lawmakers Voice ‘Serious Concerns’ Over Constitutionality Of Defense Bill

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Two Southern California congressmen are among 40 lawmakers in Washington who are voicing “serious concerns” over legislation that they say could legalize indefinite detention of American citizens without trial.

Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) signed off on a letter addressed on December 12 to the chairs of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee over the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The letter specifically references three provisions in the pending legislation that have raised eyebrows on both sides of the political aisle — including Section 1031 of the Senate version of the bill that authorizes “indefinite military detention” of suspected terrorists without protecting U.S. citizens’ right to trial”.

“We are deeply concerned that this provision could undermine the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth amendment rights of U.S. citizens who might be subjects of detention or prosecution by the military,” the letter read.

Lawmakers also opposed Section 1032 of the Senate legislation that “would require that suspected foreign terrorists be taken into custody by the military instead of law enforcement authorities” — a provision that the letter said was opposed by the Secretary of Defense, both the FBI and CIA directors and others in the national security apparatus.

The Obama administration on Wednesday backed off its prior threats to veto the bill after last-minute changes that it said “does not challenge the president’s ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists and protect the American people,” according to the Associated Press.

The $662 billion bill would authorize money for military personnel, weapons systems, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and national security programs in the Energy Department in the budget year that began October 1, the Associated Press reported.

A revised version of the bill is set to go before the Senate for a vote on Thursday.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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