Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), released the following statement in response to the President’s speech on the Administration’s counter-terrorism efforts:
“We live in a dangerous world, where threats are not always easily identifiable, and our enemies are not bound by borders. Our enemies do not wear uniforms – they seek to blend in with civilian populations. They do not swear allegiance to a state - they are driven by radical ideologies. They do not enter a clearly defined battle field with tanks and other traditional weapons of war – they seek to incite fear by striking civilian populations.
“Confronting an enemy such as this presents a number of challenges, and as these stateless actors seek to harm Americans, the United States must be able to respond swiftly and lightly. We’ve got to be able to strike with precision, but without devoting a vast amount of troops and resources to one place.
“We must also ensure that we are upholding our values, and acting within the law. That means the Administration must be accountable for its actions, and transparent with Congress, citizens of the United States and the international community. Up to this point, the Administration has done a good job of alerting Congress of its actions, but processes must be put in place to ensure this transparency moving forward. Moving drone operations to the Department of Defense will certainly help.
“As I outlined in my op-ed this week, and in my letter to the President, closing the dentition facility at Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) is also an important part of counter-terrorist efforts. Hunger strikes, health care problems of an aging detainee population, and excessive costs are currently the most visible problems at GTMO, and until it is close it will remain a symbol of attempts to avoid the rule of law. Our moral authority in upholding our values and promoting human rights will continue to suffer and al-Qaeda will continue to evoke GTMO when rallying extremists to its cause. I am pleased to see that the President has renewed his efforts to close the facility.
“The President’s announcements today that he will appoint a senior official at the Department of Defense and the State Department designated with closing the facility and begin transferring current detainees out of GTMO are welcomed and much needed developments. The President can and should begin to transfer detainees that do not pose a threat to national security. Now, Congress must act to remove the barriers it has placed on the Administration and allow this international eyesore to be closed. We can and should try and detainee terrorist suspects in the United States. The Federal Court System is a powerful asset that has tried and convicted more than 300 suspects of international terrorism.
“As we drawdown in Afghanistan, it is important that Congress continues to work with the administration to ensure appropriate and long-standing process and laws are in place to provide for a legally durable approach to national security.”