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McKeon, McCain introduce terrorist detention legislation

Posted: March 4, 2010 2:49 p.m.
Updated: March 4, 2010 3:40 p.m.
 
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Calif.), the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, today joined with his counterpart on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), to introduce legislation that sets out a comprehensive policy for the detention, interrogation and trial of terrorists who are suspected of engaging in hostilities against the United States, such as the Christmas Day bomber who tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253 and kill nearly 290 people.

"I want to commend John McCain for his leadership and thank him for giving me the opportunity to join him in introducing this important legislation," McKeon said. "This bill aims to correct the President's mishandling of a major aspect of the ongoing war on terror."

"The simple truth is that relaxing our detainee policies -- as the President's Administration is doing -- puts Americans at risk. We can draw a bright and terrifying line between releasing those war criminals and harm to our people. Yet, there has been no reversal of policy -- or even a review. It was only the result of Congressional pressure that the administration announced it would stop transferring Guantanamo detainees back to Yemen.

"Treating Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the co-conspirators of the September 11th attacks, or enemy combatants captured on the world's modern-day battlefields as criminals and prosecuting them in federal court in our communities only endangers American lives and unnecessarily wastes hundreds of millions of dollars," McKeon continued. "We have a military commission system in place and a courtroom in Guantanamo to handle these cases. The President's current detention policy relies on the federal courts to determine who can and cannot be detained. This legislation brings this policy decision back to the Legislative Branch where it belongs.

"The President spoke of the need for long term detention and this bill provides him with the authority to do just that -- this is not a matter for the courts to decide. As the President stated in his National Archives speech in May 2009: ‘There remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. ... There may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. ... These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.'

"This legislation is simple: No more mirandizing terrorists, no more terrorist trials in civilian courts, and no more question as to whether the military has the authority to detain enemy combatants for the duration of the conflict with al-Qaeda. The American people deserve a new terrorist detainee policy; and our legislation sets us on that path," concluded McKeon.

The "Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act of 2010" would:

* Require that terrorists suspected of engaging in hostilities against the U.S. will be held in military custody and interrogated for their intelligence value to prevent imminent and future attacks against the United States at home and abroad.

* Prohibit terrorists from being read Miranda rights and being told they have a right to a lawyer and a right to refuse to cooperate.

* Mandate trial by military commission if a decision is made to hold a criminal trial after we have obtained the intelligence information necessary to protect American lives.

* Authorize detention of such enemy combatants without criminal charges for the duration of the hostilities consistent with standards under the law of war which have been recognized by the Supreme Court.

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