Civil Rights, Interfaith Leaders Hold Press Conference to Condemn Controversial Provisions of Senate Bill S. 1867

On Thursday, December 8, civil rights and interfaith leaders held a press conference at the CAIR-Chicago office to condemn the controversial new provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1867) which passed in the Senate last week.  CAIR-Chicago was joined by Bill Yoshino, Midwest Regional Director of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), Jane Ramsey, Executive Director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA), Imam Misbahuddin Rufai, Urban Development Director at the Council on Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), and James Fennerty, President Emeritus of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG, Chicago Chapter)


Leaders called on Congress and President Obama to reject the S. 1867 if sections 1031 and 1032 are not removed.  These provisions would authorize the U.S. military to arrest American citizens suspected of terrorism without charge or trial and detain them for an indefinite length of time. The act must now be reconciled with a similar House version of the bill, which prevents the transfer of military detainees back to civilian courts.

CAIR-Chicago Litigation Director, Kevin Vodak, explained the how S. 1867 completely disregards basic constitution rights.

“The detention provisions of the NDAA remind us of the error made by the Government immediately after the 9/11 attacks, when the Bush Administration conducted a roundup of more than 1200 Arab/Muslim individuals nationwide, again without any due process,” said Vodak.  “Former members of the Bush Administration have admitted this error, after they never apprehended anyone linked to the 9/11 attacks during this process.  An Inspector General report revealed that many of the detainees had indeed been blocked from contacting attorneys and that some of them had been beaten or otherwise physically abused by guards in federal prisons.”

Bill Yoshino discussed how these draconian measures are reminiscent of the tragic and unjust internment of Japanese Americans during World War II when they were subjected to indefinite detention.

“Indefinite detentions based on fear where individuals are neither charged nor fairly tried offend our most fundamental values of due process,” said Yoshino.

All shared their grave concerns with these disturbing attempts by political leaders to usurp an inordinate amount of power, which ultimately leaves our nation less free and less safe.

Illinois’ Senators, Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, were both among the 7 Senators who voted against the bill.

Last week CAIR-Chicago sent out an Action Alert calling on its constituents to contact Congressmen to have the controversial provisions removed, and to contact President Obama demanding he veto the bill, as he promised, if the provisions are not removed.

SEE ACTION ALERT: Contact Senators, President Obama and Demand They Reject Detaining U.S. Citizens Without Charge or Trial
A final version of the bill could be ready for Senate and House approval within the next two weeks. However, the president has threatened to veto the bill if the two provisions are not removed, citing serious legal and policy concerns.

SEE: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Sections 1031 and 1032)

In a recent memo to the Senate, the Obama Administration asserted that, “applying this military custody requirement to individuals inside the United States, as some Members of Congress have suggested is their intention, would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.”

SEE: White House Memorandum Denouncing Indefinite Detention of American Citizens