Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement today after the Administration condemned language in the Senate National Defense Authorizing Bill restricting the President’s ability to detain, interrogate and prosecute terrorism suspects:
“I am pleased to see that the Administration has weighed in on some of the legal and policy provisions related to detainee matters in the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Bill. It is important that we understand how this legislation will impact the Administration’s ability to defend the United States.
“I agree that some of the provisions, as currently written, undermine the President’s ability to bring terrorists to justice by crippling some of our nation’s most critical tools: Article III courts and local law enforcement officials. Our local law enforcement officials have shown repeatedly that they are fully capable of supporting our efforts in the war on terror.
“There is no reason to remove these powerful, proven and effective tools. Removing them undermines our efforts. We must also ensure that the President has the tools and flexibility necessary to protect our nation, and that decisions on how to detain, interrogate and try detainees are not preemptively made by Congress.
“Additionally, I agree that some of the language would ‘raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.’
“As the National Defense Authorization Act moves through the legislative process, I will continue to work with key stakeholders to attempt to draft a policy that ensures American civil liberties and empowers the President to protect our nation from the threat of terrorism.”