Washington D.C. - Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement after the White House issued an Executive Order clearing the way for the resumption of military trials for detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:
“I am pleased to see that the Obama Administration has taken the initiative in confronting this important national security issue. The current situation at Guantanamo Bay undermines our national security by restricting our ability to detain, try, convict and lock-up terrorist who wish to do us harm. Without a process that ensures timely trails for those accused of a crime, the courts could ultimately order that certain detainees be released. This is unacceptable and the executive order announced today helps clear the way to charge and try our enemies.
“I am glad the Administration is taking this first step toward a comprehensive plan to resolve this situation and I will work with Chairman McKeon and my colleagues on the Committee as this Executive Order begins to be implemented. However, it is only a first step and I urge the Administration to work with Congress as we consider a comprehensive, long-term solution to detainee affairs.
“The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has been plagued with problems since President Bush opened it in 2002 and resolving these problems will require thoughtful solutions put forth by both parties. The legislation passed last year in the defense bill is not a solution, nor does it provide a framework to help move us toward a solution. The legislation appears to have only goal: prevent the President from finding a solution to this problem.
“Currently, we cannot prosecute our enemies, and it is almost impossible to release detainees who are not a threat. This empowers our adversaries, jeopardizes national security and undermines our allies. Rest assured, our enemies are using Guantanamo Bay as a recruiting tool – and it works. This must change. We must create a system that provides swift and meaningful justice to those who wish to do us harm.
“It’s time to put aside rhetoric and short term political goals and focus on solutions. I encourage my colleagues in the House to use this as an opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue and help to develop a solution that meets the concerns of the American people, ensures our national security and upholds our values.”