Contact: Josh Holly (202) 225-2539
Washington, D.C. --- Republican and Democratic Members of the House Armed Services Committee today overwhelmingly voted in favor of legislation creating a new judicial process to prosecute terrorists captured in the ongoing Global War on Terror and to protect American troops on the battlefield. The Military Commissions Act, sponsored by Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), passed in the Armed Services Committee by a bipartisan vote of 52-8-1. The full House of Representatives is expected to consider the legislation next week.
“The best way we can commemorate 9/11 is to prosecute those who designed the attacks on America, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammad who is now being held at Guantanamo. Today, we took another step toward giving the President the tools he needs to prosecute these terrorists,” said Hunter.
“Our foremost consideration in voting the Military Commissions Act out of committee was to protect American troops and American citizens from harm. We will not provide accused terrorists sensitive information that could harm our troops or agents if released,” continued Hunter.
The Military Commissions Act creates a new judicial process to fully and fairly prosecute terrorists, while protecting American troops who are fighting the war on terror. The Hunter-Boehner-Sensenbrenner bill affords the accused the following rights to ensure a full and fair trial:
- Right to counsel.
- Presumption of innocence.
- Proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Opportunity to obtain witnesses and other evidence.
- Right to discovery.
- Exculpatory evidence provided to defense counsel.
- Statements obtained through torture are excluded.
- Classified evidence must be declassified, redacted or summarized to the maximum extent possible.
- Statements allegedly obtained through coercion are only admissible if the military judge rules that the statement is reliable and probative.
- A certified, impartial judge will preside over all proceedings of individual military commissions.
- The U.S. government must provide defense counsel, including counsel with the necessary clearances to review classified information on the accused terrorist’s behalf.
- In capital cases, the military commission’s twelve panelists must unanimously agree on the verdict and the President has the final review.
- Panel votes are secret ballot, which ensures panelists are allowed to vote their conscience.
- Right to appeal to a new Court of Military Commissions Review and the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
- Right against double jeopardy.
A fact sheet outlining the major provisions of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is attached.