Senators might revise detainee language to address FBI's concerns

Senators are working to address the FBI's concerns with the detainee provisions in the Defense authorization bill.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and other senators met with with FBI Director Robert Mueller Monday to discuss the provisions, which have drawn a veto threat from the White House.   

“We’re going to try to accommodate some of their concerns,” Graham told reporters Tuesday. He declined to elaborate on what changes might be made.

The House and Senate are in the midst of negotiations in conference committee to reconcile the different versions of the Defense bill, which passed the Senate last week 93-7.

The Obama administration has threatened to veto the Pentagon policy bill because it argues that the legislation places burdensome restrictions on federal law enforcement. Mueller, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper all publicly opposed the provisions in the Senate bill last month before it passed.

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“By establishing a presumption of military detention for covered individuals within the United States, the legislation introduces a substantial element of uncertainty as to what procedures are to be followed in the course of a terrorism investigation in the United States,” Mueller wrote in a letter to lawmakers last month.

The chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees planned to meet later Tuesday to discuss the Defense bill, according to committee staffers.

Graham and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that the bill will be finalized by the end of the week.

Before the Senate passed the Defense bill, Levin had agreed to some changes requested by the administration, but he and McCain would not strip provisions that mandated military custody of al Qaeda members. Two days after they moved the bill out of committee, the White House threatened to veto it.

Some Senate Democrats tried to remove the detainee provisions from the Senate bill last week, but were unsuccessful.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who had a last-minute amendment added to the Senate bill that said it did not change existing law pertaining to the military detention of U.S. citizens, said Tuesday she is in the process of drafting a separate bill on terror suspects in the U.S.

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