5-9-2011By C. Dixon Osburn
Director, Law and Security Program
There’s an effort underway to bring back torture and militarize law enforcement in the United States.
While former Vice President Dick Cheney and other proponents of “enhanced interrogation” techniques trumpet the role of torture in the hunt for Bin Laden, Congress is considering a bill that would disrupt our counterterrorism efforts and grant huge amounts of power to the President without the necessary oversight.
H.R. 968 or The Detainee Security Act would :
- Give the President unfettered authority to go to war in Iran, Indonesia, and elsewhere to fight terrorists;
- Require local law enforcement and the FBI to turn over to military custody any terror suspects, including American citizens, captured in the United States without trial and;
- Make the failed experiment of Guantanamo permanent by barring federal court prosecution of prisoners held there and barring repatriation of innocent men unless ordered by a court to transfer them.
This bill threatens to undermine national security by uprooting established counterterrorism tools and supplanting them with dangerous, untested, and overly-militarized procedures.
The FBI and local law enforcement have successfully elicited a substantial amount of intelligence information from terrorism suspects. And our criminal justice system has a proven track record of handling terrorism in the courts, convicting over 400 terrorist suspects since 9/11. The military commissions have only convicted 6.
The United States government already has broad authority and strong tools to disrupt, detain, and prosecute international terrorists under current law.
Congress should focus on strengthening established and effective counterterrorism tools, rather than expanding costly, unpopular wars and enshrining Guantanamo as a permanent fixture of second-class justice.