Civil liberties groups call on Obama to veto defense bill

“The latest version of the defense authorization bill does nothing to address the bill’s core problems — legislated indefinite detention without charge and the militarization of law enforcement,” Andrea Prasow of Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

Two retired Marine generals, Charles Krulak and Joseph Hoar, who have worked with Human Rights First to fight the legislation, wrote a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday titled “Guantánamo Forever?”

“One provision would authorize the military to indefinitely detain without charge people suspected of involvement with terrorism, including United States citizens apprehended on American soil,” they wrote. “Due process would be a thing of the past.”

Chris Anders, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “Based on suspicion alone, no place and no person is off-limits to military detention without charge or trial … President Obama should get his veto pen ready for this dangerous bill.”

Critics of the legislation say the proposal allows the military to capture prosecute U.S. citizens and terror suspects on U.S. soil. But supporters argue the Supreme Court already allows U.S. citizens to be considered enemy combatants, citing the 2004 Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld case.

An amendment was added at the last minute to the Senate’s bill that said the legislation did not change current law regarding U.S. citizens or those captured on American soil. Senators have said the courts will ultimately decide the issue.

The difference in objections from the Obama administration and civil liberties groups was not lost on comedian Jon Stewart, who zinged the White House in a lengthy “Daily Show” segment on the detention policy last week.