Yesterday saw an important vote in the Senate. Dahlia Lithwick succinctly summarizes the outcome:
On Tuesday 60 members of the United States Senate voted to preserve a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act-that would be the bill that funds the Pentagon-allowing the U.S. military to pick up and detain, without charges or trial, anyone suspected of terrorism, including American citizens, and to restrict transfers of prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay. Specifically, 60 senators voted against an amendment that would have invalidated the part of the bill which empowers the president and the military to detain anyone they suspect was involved in the 9/11 attacks or supports al-Qaida, the Taliban, or “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”
Both of Missouri’s senators are among the 60 who voted to support unlimited detainment of American citizens without benefit of trial. One of those two senators is, putatively at least, a Democrat.
Obviously one can expect no better from Senator Blunt, trapped as he is in the GOP need to reinforce a cartoon-ready tough-guy posture. But shouldn’t we expect our Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill, a person who at least pretends to be member of the party of reason, to take into consideration the fact that the Pentagon, the FBI, the CIA, the director of national intelligence, the DOJ’s National Security Division and her party leader, President Obama, argued forcefully against the position she decided to take. Indeed, the President has indicated that it is such a bad idea that he will veto the bill if it contains the unamended provision.
In case that you don’t get that our senators have done a very bad thing, consider Al Frankin’s comments (via Steve Benen):
[W]hat we are talking about here is that Americans could be subjected to life imprisonment. Think about that for a minute. Life imprisonment. Without ever being charged, tried, or convicted of a crime. Without ever having an opportunity to prove your innocence to a judge or a jury of your peers. And without the government ever having to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I think that denigrates the very foundations of this country.