Response from U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders to my email addressing my concerns the unlawful indefinite attainment of United States citizens by our government:
December 19, 2012
Dear Mr. Phillips:
Thank you for contacting me regarding indefinite detention and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2013. I welcome the opportunity to discuss this important matter with you.
I voted against S.1867, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which was signed into law at the end of last year. I did this in part because I had grave concerns that this legislation would change our detention laws in a way that would severely damage our system of justice. It gave the President – and all future presidents – the authority to indefinitely imprison people, without charge, without trial and without a habeas corpus hearing with full due process rights, and to try U.S. citizens or lawful residents by military commission instead of in federal courts.
You will be pleased to know I voted for an amendment introduced by Senator Feinstein that would clarify a provision of last year’s NDAA that could easily be interpreted to mean American citizens or permanent residents could be indefinitely detained in military custody if they were suspected of engaging in or supporting terrorism. The Feinstein amendment would make it clear that the normal due process requirements for a civilian trial apply to all Americans. Recently, this amendment was agreed to (67-29) and the NDAA of 2013 was unanimously passed by the Senate. Unfortunately, a Congressional conference committee tasked with merging House and Senate versions of the NDAA of 2013 chose to drop Feinstein’s ban on indefinite detention amendment. I believe that in doing so, they greatly weakened the legislation. I am as disappointed as I know you will be.
Please be assured I believe we should not and must not abandon the principle of habeas corpus on which our entire judicial system is based, a principle which is respected throughout the world.
Again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. Feel free to contact me again in the future about this or any other subject of interest to you, or for up-to-date information on what my office is working on please visit http://www.sanders.senate.gov. While there, I invite you to sign up for my e-newsletter, the Bernie Buzz, at http://sanders.senate.gov/buzz/. Please be aware that due to security screening procedures, postal mail to my office experiences delays that will lengthen the time it takes me to get back to you. The fastest way to contact my office is by calling 1-800-339-9834.
United States Senator