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Senate sends defense bill to White House

Dec. 15, 2011 at 6:58 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Thursday passed a $662 billion defense authorization bill, sending it to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature.

The Senate voted 86-13 in favor of the bill, which had passed the House 283-136 Wednesday after weeks of wrangling over U.S. policies addressing how to deal with suspected terrorists, some of whom are U.S. citizens, Politico reported.

"Those who say that we have written into law a new authority to detain American citizens until the end of hostilities are wrong," said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich. "Neither the Senate bill nor the conference report establishes new authority to detain American citizens -- or anybody else."

The White House had threatened to veto the measure but withdrew its opposition once it was clear the bill would pass by a wide margin.

The bill requires military custody for foreign terrorists who attack the United States and provides for a one-year extension to the ban on moving detainees from the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It includes language indicating nothing in it may be "construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States."

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