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The detainee provisions passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012, P.L. 112-
During debate of the provision, significant attention focused on the applicability of this detention authority to U.S. citizens and other persons within the United States. The Senate adopted an amendment to clarify that the provision was not intended to affect any existing law or authorities relating to the detention of U.S. citizens or lawful resident aliens, or any other persons captured or arrested in the United States. This report analyzes the existing law and authority to detain U.S. persons, including American citizens and resident aliens, as well as other persons within the United States who are suspected of being members, agents, or associates of Al Qaeda or possibly other terrorist organizations as “enemy combatants.”
The Supreme Court in 2004 affirmed the President’s power to detain “enemy combatants,” including those who are U.S. citizens, as part of the necessary force authorized by Congress after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Lower courts that have addressed the issue of wartime detention within the United States have reached conflicting conclusions.
This report provides a background to the legal issues presented, followed by a brief introduction to the law of war pertinent to the detention of different categories of individuals. An overview of U.S. practice during wartime to detain persons deemed dangerous to the national security is presented. The report concludes by discussing Congress’s role in prescribing rules for wartime detention.