The Senate on Thursday blocked a second attempt to spare U.S. citizens from potential indefinite military detentions and was set to vote on a third effort to do the same later in the day.
Under a provision of the mammoth defense authorization bill, the military would be granted the authority to detain and hold anyone indefinitely if that individual is suspected of having ties to al Qaeda, including any American arrested in the United States.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, offered an amendment to curb the measure by specifying that it applied to suspects captured "abroad." The amendment failed on a vote of 45 to 55. Feinstein was expected to get a vote later in the day on another amendment that would explicitly exclude U.S. citizens from military detention.
The heated debate has crossed party lines, with three Republicans -- Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) -- favoring the amendment, and 10 Democrats and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) opposing it. The debate also has left many Americans scratching their heads as to whether Congress is actually attempting to authorize the indefinite detention of Americans by the military without charges.