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Senators Message to Cuba: Only We Can Indefinitely Detain Americans

Senator Carl Levin wants Americans imprisoned in indefinitely as long as it's not Cuba.

Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) is demanding the release of Maryland man held in prison in Cuba since December 3, 2009. Senator Levin is among 18 senators calling on the Cuban Government to release Alan Gross who was held 14 months without being charged and received a 15-year prison sentence after a two-day trial. Senator Levin is the same senator sponsoring the National Defense Authorization Act with its inclusion of the terror detainee provision, which would do the same to an “enemy combatant” detained on American soil even if that person was an American citizen.

Working alongside Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Levin has been involved in hours of debate over the provision deeming it necessary if America wants to be safe. Under this provision, a person detained will not be read their Miranda rights, allowed counsel and could be detained for an indefinite amount of time without charge or trial.

During Tuesday’s session, Senator Graham said, “”When they say ‘I want to talk to a lawyer,’ we tell them ‘Shut up! You don’t get a lawyer!’”

An amendment to exclude American citizens from this treatment was proposed by Colorado Senator Mark Udall (D). Sixty-one Senators, including nine senators asking for Alan Gross’s release, voted the Udall amendment down.

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin (D) spoke on the Senate floor today describing the pain the Gross family is experiencing. According to Cardin, Gross went to Cuba to “help the country’s small Jewish community establish an Intranet and improve its access to the internet, access which would allow the community to go online without fear of censorship or monitoring.” There are so many parallels in this story it is terrifying.

Do you even need a Guantanamo Bay reminder?

Cardin, Levin and other Senators penned a letter to Jorge Bolaños, Chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, declaring the incarceration “a major setback in bilateral relations and human rights violation.”

“After two years in a Cuban prison, Mr. Gross and his family have paid an enormous personal price.  Mr. Gross has lost 100 pounds and suffers from numerous medical conditions,” Cardin wrote.  In addition, … Mr. Gross’s daughter and mother are both fighting cancer, and his wife is struggling to make ends meet. We strongly urge the Cuban Government to immediately release Mr. Gross on humanitarian grounds and allow him to be reunited with his family.”

Other Senators supporting this measure include: Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Maryland), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Bill Nelson (D-Florida), Dean Heller (R-Nevada), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Roy Blunt (R-Montana), Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ).

Senators Heller, Lieberman, Landrieu, Casey, Whitehouse, Blunt, Kohl, Reed and Levin all voted against the Udall amendment.

This is hypocrisy, not safety.