The Final Passage of the National Defense Authorization Act

Although I voted today for the National Defense Authorization Act – which passed by a 86-13 margin - I will continue to seek modifications to address civil liberties concerns raised by several detainee provisions.

I share the concerns of many in Connecticut regarding the mandatory military custody and detention without trial provisions– which is why I voted to strip them from the bill.  An amendment to do so offered by Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, unfortunately failed.  I supported other amendments that essentially sought the same objective of preserving and protecting Constitutional rights and due process safeguards.  As a result of such efforts, the detainee provisions in the legislation were revised to state explicitly that they do not affect the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens, or any other person in the United States.  The legislation was also modified to preserve the authority of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to continue criminal enforcement activities, regardless of whether a person is in military custody. 

Ultimately, I supported the overall bill, whose purpose is to authorize our nation’s defense expenditures for the next year.  As a Senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I felt a responsibility to provide our troops with absolutely necessary support as they serve and sacrifice during a time of war.

This mammoth measure provides funding for everything from paying  troops serving in combat and at home, to the ammunition, equipment, fuel and other supplies they use, and the training and medical treatment they need both before and after they deploy, and if they are wounded. It funds the maintenance and infrastructure at our bases, as well as critical weapons systems necessary to deter and prevent attacks by terrorists or other countries.  

I am still deeply troubled by the grave civil liberties implications of the detainee provisions, and I share the concerns of senior law enforcement, military, and intelligence officials that these detainee provisions are actually counterproductive to the national security goals they are supposed to serve.  I will continue to fight for additional measures for pursuing terrorism consistent with the basic protections guaranteed to all Americans by our Constitution.