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Detainee changes part of defense bill

June 24, 2011 at 7:48 PM

WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) -- The Senate version of a bill funding the U.S. military includes changes to the rules governing suspected terrorist detainees, a congressional aide says.

The Armed Services Committee approved the proposals 25-1 in a secret vote last week, The New York Times reported. The detainee rule changes were put together by a bipartisan group that included Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the committee chairman, and Republicans John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

A legislative aide told the Times the provisions include one setting up a hearing procedure for detainees at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan and similar facilities. A military judge would be able to free those determined not to be enemy combatants. But the package authorizes military detention for "high-value" foreign prisoners, even those arrested in the United States, the Times said.

The use of government funds for a prison inside the United States for Guantanamo detainees would be permanently barred. The measure also expands a provision authorizing the detention of members of al-Qaida, the Taliban and other groups under legislation allowing the government to act against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Andrea Prasow, senior counsel in Human Rights Watch's Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program, said the military detention provision is "outrageous."

"Mandatory military detention is what martial-law states do, not democracies," she said.

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