Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney refused to comment on a controversial provision in last year’s defense spending bill, which allowed terrorism suspects to be detained on U.S. soil without charge or trial.
“I’ll look at that particular piece of legislation,” he said at a town hall event in Mount Vernon, Ohio. “I can tell you this, that much of what happens in Washington is driven by the leadership there, and I can assure you that when I become president, you introduced it that way, that when I become president I will not do things that interfere with the rights of our citizens and there freedoms.”
But Romney added that he supported the PATRIOT Act and similar legislation.
Last year, debate raged over the multi-billion dollar defense funding bill. Civil liberties advocates and others warned that provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 could allow the military to detain terrorism suspects on U.S. soil without charge or trial, even if they were U.S. citizens.
While signing the bill in December, Obama issued a statement in which he pledged that the new laws would not violate Americans’ constitutional rights. But human rights advocates said Obama’s signing statement did not prevent future administrations from abusing the law.
During a Republican primary debate in January, Romney said he would have signed the defense spending bill despite its controversial detainee provisions.
“I do believe it is appropriate to have in our nation the capacity to detain people who are threats to this country, who are members of al Qaeda,” he said.
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