Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) inserted a little-noticed provision into the National Defense Authorization Act that would put all terror suspects into immediate military custody, the National Journal reports.
The measure, the National Journal reports, “was tucked into the Senate’s version of the omnibus Pentagon spending measure shortly before Congress adjourned for its summer recess.”
While similar language was taken out of the House’s version of the bill after “intensive back-channel lobbying by senior White House and Pentagon officials,” the future of the provision will be decided when lawmakers meet in conference later this month to reconcile the two versions of the bill, the Journal reports.
Congress and the White House have been squaring off over the best way to handle terrorism suspects for some time now. Back in June, Attorney General Eric Holder had some harsh words for politicians who tried to interfere in prosecutions and those who “disparage the American criminal justice system.”
“Politics has no place - no place - in the impartial and effective administration of justice,” Holder said. “Decisions about how, where, and when to prosecute must be made by prosecutors, not politicians. And this is true for every case, whether it involves brutal terrorists or white collar criminals.”
Holder promised to “defend the exclusive right of the Executive Branch to determine appropriate venues and mechanisms for all criminal trials.”
But Republicans haven’t gotten over their crusade to make military tribunals the only place where terrorism cases can be handled, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnnell (R-KY) even arguing in July that the Casey Anthony case shows why civilian courts can’t handle terror trials.