Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement at today hearing, “Years After the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force: Current Status of Legal Authorities, Detention, and Prosecution in the War on Terror”:

“I thank the Chairman for holding this hearing.

“I continue to believe we must have a clear and coherent strategy to properly detain and interrogate terrorists who attack and threaten us. Congress needs to act to provide a consistent policy that upholds the Constitution and our values while at the same time ensuring our national security. 

“This policy needs to do four things: 1) effectively prosecute the enemy in a way that is consistent with the rule of law; 2) effectively obtain intelligence, both short-term and long term; 3) effectively detain those who are fighting against us, both short-term and long term, and 4) resolve what we are going to do with the remaining detainees at Guantanamo.

“In my mind, this means our policy needs to use all effective tools to protect us against this terrorist threat.  As the President’s advisor on these issues, John Brennan, has stated, “confronting this complex and constantly evolving threat does not lend itself to simple, straightforward solutions. No single tool alone is enough to protect the American people against this threat.”  I am in favor of military commissions, when appropriate. I am in favor of law of war detention, when appropriate. I am in favor of interrogating the enemy, within the rule of law. And I am in favor of using the one method we know works, prosecuting terrorists in our criminal justice system.

“The legislative proposals to address our detention and interrogation policies passed by the House limit the President’s options.  The recent decision by the Administration to try Ahmed Warsame in federal court illustrates the limitations of the pending legislation.  If enacted, Warsame would not have been able to be transferred to the United States for trial in federal court, which appears to be the most effective way for handling his specific case.

“I continue to believe that having a legal and coherent policy to detain, try and interrogate terrorist attack us and their supporters is not just a matter of protecting our Constitution and upholding our values, it is also a matter of national security. It is vitally important that we make it clear to our adversaries that the freedoms we hold dear and our way of life that they seek to attack is far superior. But it is also important that we craft an airtight policy to protect against the court ordered release of dangerous violent extremists. 

“Today’s hearing will provide us with another opportunity to review the relevant law and policy and to have a candid discussion about how to best move forward. I look forward to hearing from members of the committee and from today’s witnesses, all of whom have been involved in detention policy for many years, about how we can address this significant problem.”