Reply from Senator Franken

Office of Sen. Al Franken
December 19, 2011

Dear MaddMedic,

Thank you for contacting me about the detainee provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act. I appreciate hearing from you on this very important issue.

On December 15, 2011, the Senate passed a bill including provisions on detention that I found simply unacceptable. These provisions are inconsistent with the liberties and freedoms that are at the core of the system our Founders established. And while I did in fact vote for an earlier version of the legislation, I did so with the hope that the final version would be significantly improved. That didn’t happen, and so I could not support the final bill.

The bill that passed included several problematic provisions, the worst of which could allow the military to detain Americans indefinitely, without charge or trial, even if they’re on U.S. soil. Another provision requires the military-not civilian law enforcement agencies like the FBI-to detain anyone that it believes to be a member of al Qaeda or an associated force and who helped plan or carry out an attack on the U.S. or its allies. At their core, these provisions will radically alter how we investigate, arrest, and detain individuals suspected of terrorism. This leaves it unclear what role the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are to play, despite their proven effectiveness at preventing attacks on our homeland since September 11th. This comes despite deep concerns voiced by FBI Director Robert Mueller before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I’m a member. What’s more, these provisions could undermine the safety of our troops stationed abroad.

During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act, I expressed my strong opposition to these provisions on the floor of the Senate. I filed two amendments to strip each of the provisions, but unfortunately neither received a vote. I also voted in favor of several amendments that would have made significant improvements to the provisions; none of these passed.

September 11th irrevocably and unalterably changed our lives. But it is exactly in these difficult moments, in these periods of war, when our country is under attack, that we must be doubly vigilant about protecting what makes us Americans. The Founders who crafted our Constitution and Bill of Rights were careful to draft a Constitution of limited powers-one that would protect Americans’ liberty at all times-both in war, and in peace.

As we reflect on what this bill will do, I think it is important to pause and remember some of the mistakes this country has made when we have been fearful of enemy attack. Most notably, we made a grave, indefensible mistake during World War II, when President Roosevelt ordered the incarceration of more than 110,000 people of Japanese origin, as well as approximately 11,000 German-Americans and 3,000 Italian-Americans.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon signed into law the Non-Detention Act to make sure the U.S. government would never again subject any Americans to the unnecessary and unjustifiable imprisonment that so many Japanese-Americans, German-Americans, and Italian-Americans had to endure. It wasn’t until 1988, 46 years after the internment, when President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, that the government formally acknowledged and apologized for the grave injustice that was done to citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry. These were dark, dark periods in American history. And it is easy today to think that is all behind us.

But I fear the detention provisions in the bill forget the lessons we learned from the mistakes we made when we interned thousands of innocent Japanese, Germans, and Italians. With this National Defense Authorization Act, Congress will for the first time in 60 years authorize the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without charge or trial-according to its advocates. This would be the first time that Congress has deviated from President Nixon’s Non-Detention Act. And what we are talking about here is that Americans could be subjected to life imprisonment without ever being charged, tried, or convicted of a crime, without ever having an opportunity to prove their innocence to a judge or a jury of their peers. And without the government ever having to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

I think that is highly problematic. It ignores what our Founders intended when they created a civilian, non-military justice system for trying and punishing people for crimes committed on U.S. soil. Our Founders were fearful of the military-and they purposely created a system of checks and balances to ensure we did not become a country under military rule. This bill undermines that core principle, which is why I could not support it.

On the same day that I voted against this legislation, I joined a number of my colleagues in introducing the Due Process Guarantee Act, which would explicitly prohibit the military from holding Americans caught in the U.S. in indefinite detention without charge or trial. I will be working to get this important legislation enacted into law.

Thank you again for contacting me, and please don’t hesitate doing so in the future regarding this or any other matter of concern to you.


Al Franken

United States Senator


Maybe, Just Maybe…

This would wake the Established GOP talking heads up!!

And they would realize the People are damn sick and tired of the Romney’s. Gingrich’s they are pushing on us!! We do not want Obamalyte or a RINO, nor any damn progressive Repuplikan!!

We want a REAL Conservative!!

Not the False Prophets they continue to shove at us!!

As I said here..

I will not support either one of them, does not mean I will support the current a$$o in the WH!!

I’ll support and vote for someone completely different as I did in 2004…


College Bubble…


The future of higher education is up in the air"One of the oldest economic maxims, ‘if you subsidize something, you get more of it’ has created the next trillion dollar-plus bubble for which American taxpayers will be on the hook. The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education discovered that published college tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, while median family income rose 147 percent. What is driving those costs? The idea that every high school graduate should attend college, and that government — meaning taxpayers — will guarantee loans made to those students. … [A]s college tuition costs increase, the government makes more funding available to students to pay for them. The more funding available — guaranteed by the taxpayers, so that colleges never face the possibility of a loan default — the more they can raise their tuition costs without ever having to worry about getting stiffed. … If college tuition, aided and abetted by government subsidies, continues to almost triple relative to family income, at some point the amount of debt incurred to obtain a college degree will surpass the additional income one may derive from it. Considering that any attempt to reign in government’s role in facilitating these runaway costs is inevitably characterized as ‘depriving needy students of critically needed funds,’ the trend is likely to continue. Or at least it will until the bubble pops, exactly like the government-abetted housing bubble did. Are Americans ready for another trillion dollar bailout precipitated by irresponsible government?" –columnist Arnold Ahlert
When will the college bubble burst?

Next time a liberal upbraids you for “maintaining narrow, traditional moral values”..

remind him that "tradition" is simply the inherited wisdom of our ancestors, which keeps us from making moral fools of ourselves, and anyway, which of these traditional moral values would he flat-out like to do away with: compassion, fidelity, honesty, restraint, deference, courage, chivalry, self-denial… (Actually, all of them, but he won’t be able to say that.)

Are You Ready?

For what may happen?

Instead, I’m recommending basic precautions such as keeping on hand enough food and emergency supplies for at least a month. (I’ll note in passing that the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] recommends building a survival kit to last for at least 72 hours; the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] recommends that you prepare your family for an emergency; the Federal government’s disability services also recommend the preparation of an emergency plan and supplies; and almost all States have their own emergency preparedness and management services. What I’m suggesting is based on all those good authorities, and simply extends their recommendations a little further into the future.)

Go check it out and think. Some will laugh, some will consider, some will do a little, some a lot.

What will you do?