Senators introduce bill restricting Gitmo detainee transfers

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), along with five co-sponsors, introduced legislation March 10 that would prohibit funding for civilian trials of Guantánamo Bay detainees and place restrictions on the transfer of detainees to foreign countries. The Military Detainee Procedures Improvement Act of 2011 would require “greater scrutiny on the security situation and ability of the host country to monitor a detainee” after transfer from Guantánamo. It also purports to “[r]eaffirm[] the President’s authority to detain members of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and affiliated terrorist groups based on the authority granted by Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force.” The legislation would require members of terrorists groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Taliban to be held in military custody when captured, and require annual review of whether detainees can be released.

The bill would also establish “the authority [for the president] to target and take lethal action against individuals” such as Anwar al-Awlaqi, the dual US-Yemeni citizen who has been approved for targeted killing by the Obama administration, an action that has been challenged based on Awlaqi’s US citizenship. Explaining the reasons for the bill, McCain said:

This much-needed legislation would improve our current ad hoc military detention system for members of al-Qaeda and their affiliated terrorist groups, by enacting these policies and procedures firmly into law. Our legislation addresses difficult detainee issues, including long-term detention and carefully controlled transfers, emphasizing supervision, security, rehabilitation, and reintegration, so former detainees do not return to the battlefield – as approximately 25 percent of detainees released from Guantanamo have done.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

From Jurist, March 11. Used with permission.

Congress passed legislation last year barring the transfer of Guantánamo detainees to the US for trial.