For Immediate Release: October 11, 2011
Washington, DC – Twenty-three of the nation’s most respected retired military leaders are praising Senator Harry Reid’s leadership in opposition to a defense bill that would allow for indefinite detention without trial of terrorism suspects and would force law enforcement officials to transfer a large category of terrorism suspects into military custody. In a letter to Reid, the retired admirals and generals thanked Reid for his recent commitment to block any version of the bill that contains these troubling provisions.
The retired military leaders cautioned that the provisions in the defense bill, if passed, “would reshape our counterterrorism policies in ways that would undermine our national security and transform our armed forces into judge, jury, and jailor for foreign terrorism suspects. The military’s mission is to prosecute wars, not terrorists.”
The group hailed Reid’s remarks in opposition to the defense bill in which he stated that the United States must “maintain the capability and flexibility to effectively apply the full range of tools at our disposal to combat terrorism,” and that limiting that flexibility “would significantly threaten our national security.”
At issue are two provisions tucked into a few pages of a 666 page defense authorization bill. The two proposals include one to authorize the military to indefinitely detain without charge individuals – including American citizens apprehended on U.S. soil – who are suspected of involvement with terrorism, as well as a provision to force law enforcement officials to transfer a large category of terrorism suspects into military custody.
The retired military leaders noted in their letter that the proposals, penned in the name of defending the nation from terrorists, “contrary to the American values need to win this fight.” The also noted that the proposal to expand the military’s mission to detain and try a large category future foreign terror suspects “falls outside the military’s core competence and erodes faith in the judicial process.”
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