NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2013


Adam SmithU.S. Representative
[D] Washington, United States

Length: 2 minutes, 42 seconds


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Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

I support the manager's amendment. I'm going to speak the balance of my time on the Smith-Amash amendment coming up later. There has been a great deal of distorted information going out. I want to take this opportunity to correct some of it.

First of all, the Gohmert amendment that's being offered does not solve the problem; you will still be subject to military custody and indefinite detention. It is not clear on that point; it leaves open the possibility the President will maintain that authority, and that is what this debate should be all about.

The President, right now, has the authority to go outside of the normal due process, constitutionally protected rights that are part of a court trial, and lock somebody up indefinitely or place them in military custody here in the U.S. That is an extraordinary amount of power to give the executive branch over individual freedom and liberty. I don't think it is necessary to keep us safe. Ten years of successfully prosecuting, convicting, and locking up terrorists under Article III courts has proven that point.

But hands down, the dumbest set of arguments I've ever heard in debating has been circulating that somehow taking away this extraordinary power from the President rewards terrorists. I would like to remind everybody--and particularly Tea Party conservatives--that just because the government arrests you doesn't mean you're guilty. Under their thinking, basically, once the government says you're a terrorist, you're a terrorist, and we shouldn't have a trial about it. So any effort to make sure that there's a process, to make sure that you actually are a terrorist becomes rewarding them. No; it's the process to make sure they are actually guilty. I cannot believe that Tea Party conservatives want to create a situation where when the government says you're guilty of a crime, that's it--no trial, no process, let's just lock you up and forget about it. That's why we have a court system.

Let's have the real debate here. Does the President need this authority to keep us safe? I don't believe he does. Let's stop these ridiculous arguments about rewarding terrorists and have some respect for the Constitution and due process.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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