Sen. Feinstein introduces bill prohibiting military detention of US citizens

During the Senate debate of the Defense bill, Feinstein passed an eleventh-hour amendment that amounted to a truce, stating that nothing in the bill changed current law when it comes to the detention of U.S. citizens.

Feinstein and other Democrats argued that the bill would have legalized the military detention of U.S. citizens, while its supporters said the Supreme Court already had made such detention legal with the 2004 Hamdi v. Rumsfeld decision.

“The Supreme Court will decide who can be detained. The Senate will not,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said last month after the amendment was agreed to.

Feinstein is hoping to erase that ambiguity and make it 100 percent clear that the military cannot detain American citizens on U.S. soil.

“We must clarify U.S. law to state unequivocally that the government cannot indefinitely detain American citizens inside this country without trial or charge,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I strongly believe that Constitutional due process requires U.S. citizens apprehended in the U.S. should never be held in indefinite detention.”

Feinstein’s bill has 13 co-sponsors, including three who voted against the authorization bill Thursday: Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). But Feinstein likely faces stiff opposition from most Republican senators, as well as fellow Democrat and Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (Mich.), who drafted the detainee language in the authorization bill.