Senators Introduce the Military Detainee Procedures Improvement Act

Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Scott Brown (R-MA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced the Military Detainee Procedures Improvement Act today, according to a press release.

Their bill consists of “nine major provisions designed to be consistent with, and reaffirm, the Authorization for Use of Military Force enacted overwhelmingly by Congress after the horrific attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” 

The provisions, per the release:

  1. Reaffirms the President’s authority to detain members of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and affiliated terrorist groups based on the authority granted by Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
  2. Requires members of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and affiliated terrorist groups be held in military custody when captured, unless the Secretary of Defense certifies civilian custody is a national security interest.
  3. Permanent restrictions on transferring Guantanamo detainees to foreign countries, requiring greater scrutiny on the security situation and ability of the host country to monitor a detainee. 
    • Requires the Secretary of Defense to invoke a national security waiver if a detainee is to be transferred to a country where former detainees have returned to the fight.
  4. Permanent prohibitions on funding alternatives to the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in the United States.
    • The American people and a bipartisan majority of Congress have rejected civilian trials in the United States for those directly responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001 – as an example, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM).
  5. Requires the Secretary of Defense to set out and submit to Congress new uniform procedures for annual review to determine whether detainees can safely be released. 
    • Recommendations for transfer of detainees would be made by a panel of experts in military operations, intelligence, and anti-terrorism.
  6. Requires the Secretary of Defense to create and report to Congress new uniform procedures to establish the status of detainees before any individual is subject to long-term detention under the Law of War. 
  7. Clarifies the right to plead guilty in death penalty cases in military commissions.
  8. Establishes a Sense of Congress to provide the President with the authority to target and take lethal action against individuals – such as Anwar al-Awlaki, the leading propagandist and operational planner for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who is linked to both the Fort Hood attack and the attempt to blow up an airliner and 300 innocent passengers on Christmas Day, 2009, near Detroit.
  9. Establishes a Sense of Congress that members of al-Qaeda, and affiliated terrorist groups, who have long been detained under the Law of War, be tried by military commission at Guantanamo Bay. 

Senator McCain is Ranking Member on the Armed Services Committee. Senator Lieberman chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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Filed under Defense, Intelligence, Military Issues, Terrorism

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