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Conference Report on H.R. 1540, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. As a member of the Committee on Homeland Security, I am well aware of the threats that face this nation from home and abroad, but even though this struggle is of the highest stakes, we must remember the very values and basic rights that set us apart from those who would seek to destroy us. We must remember that we cannot sacrifice our freedom or the freedom of others in order to maintain it. To follow such a path represents a fundamental contradiction and degrades any moral high ground we claim to possess. The indefinite detention provisions do just that; they continue a shameful precedent set in the wake of the attacks against our nation on 9/11 that allows our military to detain suspected terrorists, foreign and domestic, indefinitely and with limited ability for redress.

It has been reported that if enacted, the detention provisions would codify authority for indefinite detention without charge and mandatory military detention, authorizing their application on the basis of suspicion to virtually anyone picked up in the anti-terrorism efforts; including those arrested on U.S. soil. In effect, the U.S. military would become the sole authority over terrorism suspects, to the exclusion of the U.S. judicial system.

Mr. Speaker, this blatant eradication of Habeas Corpus is a scary thing, particularly for the people of New York City who live under the constant threat of terrorism and the ever present surveillance of law enforcement. That, among other reasons is why I'm not voting against this bill, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.

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