The Senate passed a version of the National Defense Authorization Act that was stripped of a prohibition of the indefinite military detention of US citizens on American soil by an 81-14 vote
on Friday, but only after a furious dissent on the chamber's floor by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who called it an "abomination."
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 will now head to the White House, which had earlier pledged to veto the NDAA because it prevents the president from closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. It is unclear whether the president will follow through on the threat.
The NDAA is a reauthorization of the large budget bill that sets the budget for a wide range of military activities, but it has proven most controversial for a provision that critics say would allow the military to abuse its detention powers to lock Americans away on the mere suspicion of support for terrorist groups.
In November, a bipartisan group of Senators affixed an amendment to the NDAAthat would have explicitly prohibited the military from detaining American citizens on US soil. But earlier this week, a House-Senate conference committee led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stripped away that measure.
Paul, a libertarian Republican, voiced his opposition to the conference committee's move in strong terms and urged his colleagues to vote against the bill.
"We had protection in this bill. We passed an amendment that specifically said if you were an American citizen or here legally in the country, you would get a trial by jury," Paul said. "It's been removed because they want the ability to hold American citizens without trial in our country. This is so fundamentally wrong and goes against everything we stand for as a country that it can't go unnoticed."
"When you're accused of a crime in our country you get a trial, you get a trial by a jury of your peers, no matter how heinous your crime is, no matter how awful you are, we give you a trial," he said. "This bill takes away that right and says that if someone thinks you're dangerous, we will hold you without a trial. It's an abomination."