US Senate leader blocks defense bill over detainees

October 5, 2011 23:56

WASHINGTON - US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will block consideration of the wide-ranging defense bill until provisions on how terrorism suspects will be treated are changed, according to a letter released on Wednesday.

Reid, who controls the Senate floor schedule, said he would not bring up the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act until changes were made to address concerns raised by the Obama administration and some senators about restrictions over detaining terrorism suspects.

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed a compromise over the detainees, including requiring military detention for core al Qaeda suspects, limiting transfers overseas and barring the military from building facilities on US soil to house detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison.

Reid said in an Oct. 4 letter to the leaders of the committee that the Obama administration needed more flexibility when it came to dealing with terrorism suspects.

"This includes the use of our criminal justice system," Reid said. "Limitations on that flexibility, or on the availability of critical counterterrorism tools, would significantly threaten our national security."

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