May 17 2012

Statement By Senators Graham, McCain, Kyl, and Ayotte on Smith Detainee Amendment to House Defense Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), John McCain (R-Arizona), Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), and Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) today released the following statement regarding an amendment, to be voted on tomorrow, offered by Representative Adam Smith, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, to H.R. 4310, the House version of the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act:


“We strongly oppose Representative Smith’s amendment, which would tie the hands of this president and his successors by forcing suspected terrorists captured in the United States to be placed into the federal civilian criminal justice system. The Smith amendment would also preclude any form of military custody for these suspected terrorist detainees, overturning the long months of hard work that led to last year’s agreement on detainees signed into law by President Obama as part of the Fiscal Year 2012 defense authorization bill. No foreign terrorist who comes to the United States to attack us should ever hear the words ‘you have the right to remain silent.’ We reject any attempts to reward foreign terrorists clever enough to get inside our borders with the same legal rights and protections as American citizens – the very people these terrorists seek to kill and injure.” 


Section 1021 of the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act provides the President with maximum flexibility to determine how to deal with detainees through either detention without trial under the law of war, trial by military commission, transfer to another country, or trial by another court of jurisdiction. The law specifically grants the President the authority to make this determination – authority Representative Smith’s amendment would take away. Moreover, Section 1022 of the Act creates a presumption of military custody for these detainees, who are neither U.S. citizens nor lawful permanent residents.