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Rep. Calvert Supports Military Commissions Act

Location: Washington, DC


Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) yesterday voted in favor of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which passed the House by a vote of 253-168. The Military Commissions Act will help create a system of justice for suspected terrorists that will protect our nation's intelligence capabilities while giving the suspected terrorists basic legal protections.

"Our country is at war with terrorists who do not value life and certainly do not honor any part of the Geneva Convention," stated Rep. Calvert. "However, our country has always strived for respect of human rights and human dignity, even for those who seek to harm innocent civilians. The Military Commissions Act codifies our basic respect of all mankind and provides a fair process to prosecute terrorists, allow them legal protection while protecting sensitive intelligence."

The Military Commissions Act establishes a system of military tribunals to try alien enemy combatants who have engaged in or supported terrorist activities. The act ensures that terrorists have basic legal rights, including the right to counsel, the right to obtain evidence and witnesses, and the right to appeal a guilty verdict. Suspected terrorists have the right to be present at all legal proceedings, and no evidence may be presented to the jury unless it is also provided to the accused terrorist.

The substantive findings of classified evidence will be admissible in an unclassified form, but the classified evidence itself is protected and is privileged from disclosure to accused terrorists—as well as the panel of jurists—if the disclosure of the information would be detrimental to national security. The act also protects our military and intelligence personnel by codifying violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. Currently, the article's vague provisions are open to a variety of interpretations, potentially rendering American personnel liable to prosecution without just cause.

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