Here are Senator Chambliss’ comments on the detainee question.
Thank you for contacting me regarding the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, passed by the Senate on December 1, 2011, that included several provisions relating to the authority of the United States to detain certain individuals associated with al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
It is well-founded in our history that the United States has the authority to hold enemy combatants until the end of hostilities in order to prevent their return to the battlefield. The detainee provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act codify this long-recognized authority, and make clear that any al Qaeda terrorist, whether foreign or American, who takes up arms against the United States can be held under the laws of war. Because we are at war, detention within a military framework is often the most fitting solution for handling certain terrorist detainees. At the same time, the provisions ensure that the rights of United States citizens continue to be protected by the Constitution. Thus, any American detained under this authority would still be able to challenge his detention in a federal habeas proceeding.
During the vigorous debate of the National Defense Authorization Act, several Senators offered amendments intended to address perceived problems with the provisions. Rather than improve the legislation, however, these amendments would have severely undermined our intelligence collection efforts from suspected terrorists. As we continue to fight al Qaeda and other terrorists, our primary concern must be to ensure that our military and intelligence professionals have the authority and flexibility they need to collect valuable intelligence. Because of the negative impact these amendments would likely have had on such critical collection efforts, I am thankful the amendments were defeated. Following vigorous debate and an agreement to re-emphasize current law concerning the detention of persons captured inside the United States, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization bill with overwhelming bipartisan support.
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