Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, will offer an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act designed to restore one of our nation’s most effective tools in bringing terrorists to justice – the Federal Court System.
“In a time of war, we must not restrict the President’s ability to bring terrorists to justice,” said Ranking Member Congressman Adam Smith. “Since September 11th, the United States has tried and convicted in Federal Court more than 400 defendants for violations of international terrorism laws. Removing this option would remove one of our strongest tools for bring terrorists to justice and express serious doubt in a system of justice that has been a model for the world for more than two hundred years.”
The underlying text of the National Defense Authorization Act currently prohibits the transfer of individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay, limiting the government’s ability to bring these individuals to justice. Smith’s amendment would change this by allowing for the transfer of detainees for the purpose of standing trial in United States Federal court, provided a number of criteria are met.
The amendment would require the President to submit a comprehensive plan to Congress that addresses a number of issues associated with the transfer of a detainee. The President’s plan, which must be submitted to Congress at least 45 days before an individual could be transferred to the United States for trial, must include a risk assessment, details of the location at which the detainee will be held, costs associated with the transfer, consultation with the proper authorities who will be holding the detainee, and certification by the U.S. Attorney General stating the individual poses little or no risk to the United States and its territories.
“There are currently more than 300 convicted terrorists held in prisons around the United States,” continued Smith. “Clearly, it is beyond question or doubt that our Department of Justice and our Federal Courts can handle these types of cases. While I agree that military commissions should be an option in some cases, it should not be the only option. Congress should not be preempting the Administration’s ability to determine where and when to prosecute detainees. These decisions should be made based on the facts of each individual case and the security of our nation.”