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WASHINGTON- Following the decision by the Administration to bring a Somali terrorist detainee onto U.S. soil, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), together with the Chairmen of the Intelligence, Judiciary, Foreign Relations, and Homeland Security Committees today called on President Obama to define his Administration’s policies on interrogation, detention, and prosecution of terrorists and highlighting the need for Congressional action in such a vacuum.  In a letter to the President, the Chairmen argue that the Administration has unilaterally limited the options available to the United States for detaining and prosecuting captured terrorists despite bi-partisan legislation and a decade of precedent:

“By foreclosing these options and failing to create a long-term detention regime that puts a priority on intelligence collection and keeping terrorists out of the United States- combined with reluctance to consult or collaborate with Congress on these issues- the Administration has forced Congress to take action on these issues. These concerns are only heighted given the decision to handle Warsame’s case in a manner that directly contradicts pending legislation.”

The full text of the letter is available here.

In speaking about the letter, Chairman McKeon said:

“The Warsame case should be a reminder to us all that the United States will continue to capture al-Qaeda associated terrorists around the world.  The FY12 National Defense Authorization Act, which this House passed in May on a bi-partisan basis, prohibited the transfer of such terrorists to the United States.  At the same time, our bill reaffirmed that the President is leading an armed conflict against al Qaeda and its allies and has the legal authority to detain these terrorists. The United States must have a comprehensive detention and prosecution policy to deal with future captures and we cannot leave it solely to the courts to interpret the President’s authority.   I am interested to hear what consistent standard the President will apply, since he has chosen to ignore the House’s clear intent.”

On Tuesday the full House Armed Services Committee will address this and related issues at a hearing titled “Ten Years After the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force: Current Status of Legal Authorities, Detention, and Prosecution in the War on Terror.


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