Sen. Sessions Wants Indefinite Detention for Terrorism Detainees
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) – last seen slandering Justice Department lawyers and then distancing himself from Liz Cheney’s similar slanders — goes way further than Sen. Lindsey Graham’s objections to a civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He writes in a New York Daily News op-ed:
According to the 2009 Military Commissions Act, foreign terrorists violating the rules of war are “unprivileged enemy belligerents” and thus eligible for indefinite military detention. This applies to both terrorists captured overseas and those who infiltrate our borders. Moreover, the legislation included an amendment I offered which explicitly states that Al Qaeda operatives are by definition “unprivileged enemy belligerents,” who can be detained and tried by the military.
So on the presumption that the third sentence here doesn’t contradict the first, Sessions is saying that al-Qaeda detainees should just be held on an indefinite basis by the military. Adam Serwer, in a related context, reminds that the courts have consistently ruled — as with the habeas cases — that detainees have the right to challenge their detention. As much as Sessions wouldn’t like that to be true, a new indefinite detention system will immediately be hit with court challenges — challenges that will probably succeed.
The question then becomes: If the White House takes Graham’s deal to trade a civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for closing Guantanamo, does that forestall a push from Sessions (and John McCain and Joe Lieberman) for indefinite detention — or pave the way for it?