WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Ike Skelton (MO), Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement after the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a tough, fair bill authorizing military tribunals for detainees in the war on terror.

“Today the Senate Armed Services Committee, on a bipartisan basis, reported legislation that will provide the President a tough system of military commissions while withstanding the scrutiny of the courts. 

“This bill is extremely similar to the substitute I offered yesterday in the House Armed Services Committee.  It is a better approach and one that will ensure swift convictions that are much less likely to be overturned.

“I am hopeful that the Senate, with the leadership of Chairman John Warner and Senators John McCain, Carl Levin, and Lindsey Graham, will retain this approach as the House and Senate move to reconcile differences on this legislation.

“Military heroes like General Colin Powell and General Jack Vessey have protected our men and women in uniform on the battlefield and throughout their careers.  Their letters to Senator McCain opposing the administration’s proposal, which is reflected in the House bill, to redefine American commitments under the Geneva Conventions’ Common Article 3 demonstrate their continuing dedication to the protection of our troops.

“When General Powell, the former Secretary of State for President Bush, says this element of the administration proposal adds to the world’s doubts about ‘the moral basis of our fight against terrorism’ and ‘would put our own troops at risk’, I think we must take him seriously.  

“The Senate proposal, like the substitute I offered, retains our current standards under the Geneva Conventions.  This is essential for our troops’ safety and for our world leadership.”