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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ROONEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

My amendment simply codifies in the NDAA that any foreign terrorist detained be tried in a military tribunal set up by this Congress rather than in an Article III court. The reason for that is quite simple.

Article III courts, which are reserved for our citizens, afford constitutional rights: the right of an attorney, the right to remain silent, a right to face your accuser and to contradict the evidence that's brought against you, evidence which sometimes is being offered by the government and by people in the intelligence community--information and sources that need to be protected.

Military tribunals, I think, are the more adequate venue for foreign terrorist enemy combatants to be tried and to be given due process fairly, which would also protect our sources and would also protect the way that we gather evidence by men and women in uniform and by panels of men and women in uniform. I had the pleasure of serving in the United States Army JAG Corps. They are people of the utmost integrity and the utmost fairness.

Specifically, despite the fact of our moving further away from 9/11, the war on terror continues, as we have seen with Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber, as we have seen with Major Nidal Hasan in the Fort Hood shootings, as we have seen with the Times Square bombing, and as we have seen as recently as last week in a second attempt at an underwear-type bombing on an airplane.

So, for these reasons and for the reasons stated previously with regard to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, for those who are not U.S. citizens but who are foreign terrorist detainees--and they should get due process--I believe in the due process venue of the military tribunals and military court down in Guantanamo Bay so that they may get their day in court in a fair way, one that is humane and just.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. ROONEY. Mr. Chairman, I would just say to some of the things that have been said that I don't think that what this amendment is saying is in any way disparaging what Article III courts can do or would be successful doing. Certainly I would agree that they could be adequate in prosecuting criminals and people that do crimes in this country. What we are talking about are foreign enemy terrorist combatants, people that commit acts of war against this country in furtherance of the authorization that this Congress passed.

What we have done as a Congress is set up military commissions in ways that can protect evidence, ways that can protect witnesses and sources, and, in my opinion, in a way that the Article III courts might not be able to. I'm not saying that they couldn't. I'm saying that it is a better venue. Just like when we talked about earlier the Ranking Member Smith and Amash amendment, which would preclude the use of military tribunals. As much as the ranking member is saying that options should be on the table, we're saying the same thing.

With that, I hope my colleagues will vote for this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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