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Heinrich Votes Against Flawed Defense Authorization Bill

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1) voted today against the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report. Since coming to Congress in 2009, Rep. Heinrich, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has supported all previous defense authorization bills that have been voted on in the House of Representatives.

"Our brave men and women in uniform serve honorably every day, and it is our responsibility in Congress to ensure they receive the funding and resources they need to carry out their mission," said Rep. Heinrich. "However, the Defense Authorization bill was used as a vehicle to authorize the military to go anywhere in the world to imprison anyone suspected of terrorism--even American citizens on U.S. soil--without charge or trial. By mandating military detention of suspected terrorists, this law places additional responsibilities on the military that they have not sought, nor have the resources to carry out, compromising our national security."

Section 1022 (formerly Section 1032 of S. 1867) of the NDAA Conference Report would require that suspected foreign terrorists be taken into custody by the military instead of civilian law enforcement authorities. This would deny civilian law enforcement authorities the flexibility necessary to conduct effective interrogation, detention, and prosecution. Respected bipartisan members of the national security community-- including the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the head of the Justice Department's National Security Division--oppose this provision.

"If we have evidence that a U.S. citizen is planning to or causing harm to our country, that person should absolutely be arrested, tried and brought to justice," said Rep. Heinrich. "But instead, this law would harm our justice system and is at odds with the U.S. Constitution."

Section 1021 (formerly Section 1031 of S. 1867) of the NDAA Conference Report would authorize indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists without protecting U.S. citizens' rights. Under this authority, any individual--including Americans on U.S. soil--suspected of terrorism may be detained under the laws of war and held indefinitely "until the end of hostilities."

"Since September 11, 2001, Americans have made tremendous sacrifices in both blood and treasure," said Rep. Heinrich. "In President Obama's inaugural address, he asked every American to "reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.' Now, a decade after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the recent killing of Osama bin Laden, it is time we follow through in rejecting this false choice. America can be both safe and free."

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