Detainee Provisions in the National Defense Authorization Bills [November 18, 2011]   [open pdf - 422KB]

"Both House and Senate bills competing to become the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 contain a subtitle addressing issues related to detainees at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and more broadly, hostilities against Al Qaeda and other entities. At the heart of both bills' detainee provisions appears to be an effort to confirm or, as some observers view it, expand the detention authority that Congress implicitly granted the President via the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF, P.L. 107-40) in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. H.R. 1540, as passed by the House of Representatives on May 26, 2011, contains provisions that would reaffirm the conflict and define its scope; impose specific restrictions on the transfer of any non-citizen wartime detainee into the United States; place stringent conditions on the transfer or release of any Guantanamo detainee to a foreign country; and require that any foreign national who has engaged in an offense related to a terrorist attack be tried by military commission if jurisdiction exists. […] Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill would not bar the transfer of detainees into the United States for trial or perhaps for other purposes. Despite the revisions to the detainee provisions, the Administration threatened to veto 'any bill that challenges or constrains the President's critical authorities to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the Nation.' This report offers a brief background of the salient issues raised by H.R. 1540 and S. 1867 regarding detention matters, provides a section-by-section analysis of the relevant subdivision of each bill, and compares the bills' approaches with respect to the major issues they address."

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CRS Report for Congress, R41920
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