One of President Barack Obama's top critics in the US Congress called for bolstering US powers to detain "war on terrorism" fighters -- including US citizens -- indefinitely and without trial.
"Congress should ensure no court in the land questions the legal authority for our forces to prosecute this war," Republican Representative Buck McKeon, who is likely to become chair of the House Armed Services Committee next year.
McKeon and other top Republicans worry that a measure authorizing military force against those behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes may not be keeping up with the shifting battlefield and enemies in the global conflict.
So they want to reaffirm the original measure and strengthen it, so that it would cover groups like Yemen-based Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which did not exist when the original measure was drafted, and individuals like radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, who has US citizenship, aides said.
"We need to reaffirm -- in statute -- the authorization to use military force of 2001," McKeon, who has sponsored legislation to beef up US powers to hold enemy combatants, said in a speech to a foreign policy forum.
The bill declares the US government has the right to detain any unlawful enemy combatant, including a US citizen, "without criminal charges and without trial" for the duration of the conflict, "consistent with the law of war."
Such a proposal would be sure to draw fire from civil liberties advocates and human rights groups who have criticized US detention policies in the "war on terrorism" as overbroad and violating US due process.
Republicans, who take over the House of Representatives when a new Congress convenes in January, hope to hold hearings into various proposals to expand detention powers and solicit input from the Obama administration, aides said.
McKeon has been a leading critic of the Obama administration's stated goals of trying terror suspects in US civilian courts and of shuttering the Guantanamo Bay detention facility for terrorism suspects.
© AFP 2013