Lots of drama now around the Defense Reauthorization Bill, a provision of which gives the US government the right to detail without charge anyone, including American citizens in this country, without charge, as long as they are suspected of being or aiding a terrorist. Some say no, the bill exempts US citizens. The ACLU contends that this is not true. From the ACLU’s blog:

Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1031 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.

But you don’t have to believe us. Instead, read what one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham said about it on the Senate floor: “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

There you have it — indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial. And the Senate is likely to vote on it Monday or Tuesday.

Today in Washington, Sen. Rand Paul attacked this provision of the bill. John McCain more or less accused him of being soft on terrorism:

Paul argued the amendment, which is cosponsored by McCain, “puts every single American citizen at risk” and suggested that if the amendment passes, “the terrorists have won.”

“Should we err today and remove some of the most important checks on state power in the name of fighting terrorism, well then the terrorists have won,” Paul argued, “[D]etaining American citizens without a court trial is not American.”

McCain, however, who has spent hours of floor time in the last weeks promoting his amendment, hurried to the floor to defend it against Paul’s onslaught.

“Facts are stubborn things,” McCain repeated from the floor several times. “If the senator from Kentucky wants to have a situation prevail where people who are released go back in to the fight to kill Americans, he is entitled to his opinion.”

This is killer:

But McCain ended the conversation by suggesting the junior senator from Kentucky did not understand the gravity of the danger the U.S. faces from terrorism.

“An individual, no matter who they are, if they pose a threat to the security of the United States of America, should not be allowed to continue that threat,” said McCain. ” We need to take every stop necessary to prevent that from happening, that’s for the safety and security of the men and women who are out there risking their lives … in our armed services.”

By any means necessary. Am I actually reading this correctly? Is there no liberty that John McCain would not take away from Americans for our own safety?

Maybe I’m overreacting on this. I don’t like being on the same side as the ACLU, and have a strong mistrust of their alarmism. But I trust Rand Paul far more on civil liberties questions than I trust John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Post clarifying information in the combox if you have it.