Rights groups fear Graham bill will sanction indefinite detention

By Daniel Tencer
Wednesday, March 24, 2010 13:03 EDT
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News that Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is negotiating with the White House on legislation to create a framework for handling terrorism detainees has some civil rights groups alarmed at the prospect of indefinite detention without trial being encoded into US law.

The Washington Post‘s Anne Kornblut reported Wednesday that Graham, who sits on the Senate’s Armed Services, Homeland Security and Judiciary committees, “has submitted draft legislation to the White House in an effort to create a broad framework for handling terrorism suspects, mapping out proposals that appeal to the administration and others that do not.”

The legislation is reportedly an attempt to seal a deal between the White House and congressional Republicans on a way to move forward on the detention of terrorism detainees. The deal that would see Republicans support President Obama’s plan to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention center, in exchange for the president’s support of new terrorism detention laws.

Kornblut reported that some issues in the proposed legislation, “particularly rules governing the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, are more complicated and might not get resolved immediately.”

While that suggested some White House opposition to the idea, rights groups and bloggers went on the offensive, warning the Obama administration not to agree to any measures that would see some terrorism suspects denied access to courts, whether civilian or military.

Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent notes that Graham has recently voiced support for just such a legal mechanism.

“There has to be some type of statute — and he’s been clear on that — for indefinite detention,” Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop said, as quoted by Ackerman. Some terrorism suspects are “too dangerous to release; but we also aren’t going to try them in either a military or a civilian court. So there has to be a system for that, and that’s why Senator Graham is looking for a legal framework.”

The idea of detention without trial is “un-American and violates our commitment to due process and the rule of law,” the ACLU said in a statement.

“Even during years immediately following 9/11, Congress never took the unprecedented step of passing an indefinite detention statute,” said Laura W. Murphy, head of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office. “Now that there is a president and Congress who have stated a commitment to the rule of law, it would be a terrible irony to have this kind of legislation seriously considered. We urge both the White House and Congress to reject any indefinite detention proposal.”

Although details of the bill are vague, it doesn’t appear that Graham’s proposals will be as radical as those proposed recently by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ).

Under their proposal, anyone suspected of terrorist activities or supporting terrorism would by law have to be detained by the military and “may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States.”

That proposal has been slammed by civil libertarians as opening the door to a military dictatorship in the US.

“It’s probably the single most extremist, tyrannical and dangerous bill introduced in the Senate in the last several decades,” wrote Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald of the Liberman-McCain proposal. “It literally empowers the president to imprison anyone he wants in his sole discretion by simply decreeing them a terrorist suspect — including American citizens arrested on US soil.”

While it’s unlikely that President Obama will sign that bill into law, the Graham proposal is being taken much more seriously. Some elements of the bill are reportedly less controversial than the indefinite detention element.

The Post‘s Kornblut reports that “certain ideas under discussion appear likely to yield a compromise … One promising area involves creating standard procedures for addressing detainees’ petitions for habeas corpus, which force the government to make its case for continued detention, rather than leaving those decisions up to individual judges.”

Kornblut notes that the White House is opposed to another proposal in the bill, which would see the US set up a “national security court” to hear cases involving terror suspects.

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  • Anonymous

    I remember living behind a church were Brian Lamb, and a bunch of these Cspan guys used too have a wood shop. At that place of residence my mom thought I needed an exorcist, after playing in the mud the way very young children will sometimes with my uncle who mixed a glass of this red clay in water and told me it was chocolate milk.

    After drinking it as he would force me to do thing all the time like the time he made me cut off the limb I was sitting on and the device came out of my shoulder being more powerful and in control I broke out with ring worm all over my body and my mom told me it was writing that could not be understood so she had priests come in from the church.

    I guess my Dad did not know that one of the people at the church was in line for being my new dad but that was not in the cards because I guess he felt I was in need of discipline after an accident in the wood shop. I had been check out on the band saw by my grandfather who was a millwright in Arkansas/Washington etc. and to do some jobs the blade shield had to be removed. Some kids came in and wanted to use the saw, then got mad that I wanted to warn them to put the guard on and they told me they owned it all and I was not to tell them anything, and after this head strong kid cut his thumb off the other kids said they would tell their fathers it was all my fault, but it was not.

    I had a fever of well over a hundred and I was a bloody mess with the infection. The priests came in with outer guys and one had a camera. The priests would throw me across the room well the other snapped a picture. I would fall on furniture and the floor and they would tell me get on the bed, don’t get off the bed very loud and when I would crawl back on the bed they would pick me up and throw me over and over again well the other priest would snap another picture and this went on till one guy said we have enough picture and they left me in the blood, mud, and bedding, then my aunt came in with some save that was for ring worm.

    She spread the save and kidded me about dying when the rings got to my heart. After getting well I went back to the wood shop and the guys had made me a special shield and gave me my sword which were both made of wood and I had to fight one of the guys in my shorts because I did not want to remove them and the other guy was naked (he know who he is). I was still not up too speed and lost the battle. They then called me the bad guy and this group was supposed to be my gate keeper or something like that appointed by the priests. My Dad did not like them much also but that did not matter much because someone at the church was going to be my new dad till he said no, my mom cried allot, my dad was gone, I healed up, but I still have a case.

    Please know that there is nothing any of you can do to make what you and the rest of the ones involved can do to make this my fault. See at the time I was about seven years old. Since then the church has made an effort to kill me, to the extent of trying to pass laws to kill sex offenders.

    Come on, keep it up, keep pushing laws that you as a group of very said individuals know have no value. Take me too court so I can own a network. I have met with your staff members in private since along with military personal and others.

    Now lets note when this happened I was only a small child being thrown around a room like a rag doll by people that started all this clear back in the late fifty’s and the steering by very bad people that think abusing kids to make laws to stop abuse, Ha! these laws are bogus and the fact that they can not kill gays anymore does not justify the use of laws too kill someone set up by them to create some worthless set of laws by a fusion of church and state is wrong and realty designed by them to harm us all.

    My case was pragmatic but more than that I know what was done and who was involved making vendetta laws that really have no bases in truth, and are based in lies.

    Keith Richard Radford Jr

    PSS don’t be cowards, let me know you received this e-mail through a response.

    It’s time to communicate