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White House Threatens Veto Of Indefinite Detention Bill

• MIchael McAuliff

WASHINGTON -- Accusing the Senate of "political micromanagement" of national security, the White House Friday stood by its threat to veto a defense bill over controversial military detention provisions.

The National Defense Authorization Act passed Thursday by the Senate contains a section that spells out the military's power to detain Americans indefinitely without trial and mandates military detention for some terrorism suspects.

The White House warned last month that senior advisers would recommend a veto, saying the detainee provisions could restrict the ability of law enforcement to combat terrorism and "make the job of preventing terrorist attacks more difficult."

It also contended that rather than clarifying the rules, the bill was adding uncertainty to the difficult legal landscape around detentions. Civil libertarians and many senators opposed to the detainee section charged that the bill was trampling Americans' basic rights to due process.

The Senate sought to soothe the objections Thursday night by adding an amendment that says the provision will not affect current law on detainees.

It won almost unanimous passage in the Senate, but the compromise was not sufficient for the White House.

"Republican and Democratic administrations ... have said that the language in this bill would jeopardize our national security by restricting flexibility in our fight against al Qaeda," spokesman Jay Carney said in his daily briefing Friday. "By ignoring these nonpartisan recommendations -- including the recommendations of the secretary of defense, the director of the FBI, the director of national Intelligence and the attorney general -- the Senate has unfortunately engaged in a little political micromanagement at the expense of sensible national security policies.


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