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Terrorism

Obama to Sign Bill Authorizing Indefinite Detention; Holder Stayed on the Sidelines

Posted Dec 16, 2011 10:43 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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President Obama has indicated he will sign a bill that allows indefinite detention of terrorism suspects and gives prosecution authority to the military.

Obama had threatened to veto the bill, but changed his mind after amendments addressed his concerns, the New York Times reports. Attorney General Eric Holder “took an oddly low-key stance” during debate over the bill, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.

Advocating for the Justice Department were FBI director Robert Mueller and national security prosecutor Lisa Monaco. Holder supports civilian trials, but he has been weakened because of battles with conservatives over several hot-button issues, observers tell the Wall Street Journal. They include spats over Bush-era interrogation policies and the Fast and Furious gun probe that allowed illegal weapons into Mexico.

According to the Times, the bill:

• Authorizes the government to detain without trial suspected members of al-Qaida and its allies, as well as those offering substantial support to them.

• Requires suspected al-Qaida operatives to be held in military custody, though the executive branch can make exceptions.

• Requires the attorney general to consult with military and intelligence agencies before charging a terrorism suspect in civilian court.

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