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Republican Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and John McCain (Ariz.) battled on the Senate floor Tuesday over a proposed amendment to the pending defense authorization bill that could allow American citizens who are suspected of terrorism to be denied a civilian trial.
Paul argued the amendment, which is cosponsored by McCain, "puts every single American citizen at risk" and suggested that if the amendment passes, "the terrorists have won."
"Facts are stubborn things," McCain repeated from the floor several times. "If the senator from Kentucky wants to have a situation prevail where people who are released go back in to the fight to kill Americans, he is entitled to his opinion.”
Mark Udall’s amendment to strip out indefinite detention provisions from the defense authorization bill failed today, and the bill will likely pass the Senate with the provisions intact.
The Senate soundly defeated a move to strip out controversial language requiring mandatory detention of some terror suspects, voting it down 61 to 37 and escalating a fight with the Obama administration over the future course of the war on terror.
The proposed amendment to the massive National Defense Authorization Act would require the FBI and other civilian law enforcement agencies to transfer al-Qaida suspects arrested overseas on charges of planning or carrying out a terror attack into military custody. It wouldn’t apply to American citizens, but the change has drawn strong opposition from civil rights groups and the White House, which has promised to veto the defense bill if that language was included.