Press Releases

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, Congressman Adam Smith, will offer an amendment (text) to the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act designed to uphold our national values by promoting due process and bolstering civil protections while enhancing public safety and security.

“As we confront threats from violent extremist groups around the world, it is vitally important that the President has every tool and resource he needs to ensure our national security. In doing so, we must also ensure that we do not undermine the civil protections that we cherish so deeply in this country,” said Ranking Member Adam Smith. “Current law provides the President with the authority to indefinitely detain individuals apprehended in the United States – including citizens of the United States – without due process and with little independent review or oversight. While the President said that he will not utilize this authority, future administrations might and it is a frightening amount of power to leave on the books.”

The amendment would eliminate indefinite military detention of individuals detained in the United States, its territories, or possessions under the Authorization of Military Force (AUMF), by providing for immediate transfer to trial and proceedings by a court established under Article III of the U.S. Constitution or by an appropriate state court. The bill would also repeal the provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 that requires mandatory military custody of certain individuals captured pursuant to the AUMF.

“My amendment would leverage some of our strongest assets in trying suspected terrorists:  Article III courts and domestic law enforcement.  Federal courts have a proven track record of success: Over 400 defendants charged with crimes related to international terrorism have been successfully convicted in the United States since 9/11. We should build on this success, not undermine it.”
Washington D.C. – As the House considers the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (FY2015 NDAA), House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith will offer an amendment designed to provide an effective strategy to close the detention facility located at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO).  The plan lays out six key steps to close the facility, including the removal of the unnecessary transfer and construction restrictions, which have provoked a veto threat from the White House.

 “As the number of detainees held at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, continues to shrink, the cost to taxpayers will only continue to grow,” said Ranking Member Smith. “This growing cost, coupled with the ongoing damage to our national security and moral standing in the world, underscores the necessity to close this international eyesore.”

“The Republican unwillingness to budge on provisions related to GTMO has now placed the bill at risk. It is becoming more likely that the White House will veto the National Defense Authorization Act in direct response to the GTMO provisions. We should prevent that from happening by adopting my amendment,” continued Smith.  

Operating the facility has cost more than $5 billion since 2002.  Additionally, with the cost expected to increase in the coming years, we are currently spending approximately $2.7 million per detainee each year at Guantanamo Bay, compared to $78,000 per inmate to hold a convicted terrorist in the most secure federal prison in the United States, the Supermax facility in Colorado.

The plan offered by Smith would not close the facility tomorrow. Rather, it clears the way for a gradual and responsible path forward.

Specifically, the amendment would:

1.    Strike the domestic construction (Section 1032) and transfer prohibitions (Section 1033) in the bill;

2.    Authorize the Department of Defense to use funds to construct or modify facilities and to effect transfers into the United States, its territories and possessions, notwithstanding other applicable prohibitions;

3.    Prohibit the use of authorized funds, after December 31, 2016, for the detention facility or detention operations located at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba;

4.    Expedite the process for completing of periodic review boards for GTMO detainees;

5.    Require the President to develop a disposition plan for the remaining Guantanamo detainees; and

6.    Redistribute $69 million in military construction (MILCON) funding allocated for a new High Value Detainee complex, which the Administration did not request, and restores $20 million cut for the planning & design for a HIGH PRIORITY missile defense radar site for homeland defense and $49 million to fund other MILCON projects.

“The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is an international eyesore that undermines national security objectives, damages our credibility with regard to human rights and international law, and is a massive waste of taxpayer dollars. It is time to close this facility,” said Smith.
Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced the Accountability in Immigration Detention Act, legislation that aims to improve standards and living conditions in detention centers across the country.  This comes after detainees in Tacoma went on a nearly two-month hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) over access to nutritious food, isolation practices, treatment by guards, and other living conditions.

“After visiting the NWDC to speak with detainees on hunger strike, it was clear that more enforceable standards were necessary,” said Rep. Adam Smith.  “Many detainees are fathers and mothers who have committed no crime, yet are being held in unacceptable conditions for a prolonged period of time.  This legislation is focused on improving living conditions for detainees and increasing oversight and  transparency of the treatment of detainees.”

Currently, all standards at detention facilities are created and enforced by ICE.  Smith’s legislation would change federal law to ensure that detention center standards are federally regulated and created by a rulemaking committee that includes stakeholders like organizations that advocate for undocumented immigrants, local governments, medical experts, and more.

In a statement,  #Not1More said  "We applaud Rep. Adam Smith's response to the peaceful protest by immigrant detainees in Tacoma, WA calling for better treatment at the privately-run facility. His office reached out immediately to us and he visited three of the hunger strikers in late March. During his visit he not only found their demands to be valid, he also promised to introduce legislation to address the demands and the retaliation the hunger strikers faced. Today he delivered on his promise. As part of the campaign to stop deportations and as representatives of those on hunger strike, we thank him for his leadership and courage in creating solutions to these issues.”

The legislation also would require unannounced audits and encourage the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to consider alternatives to detention (ATDs) that provide a more humane alternative for individuals in ICE’s custody.  The bill has 7 original cosponsors: Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Jared Polis (D-CO), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Bill Foster (D-IL), Rick Larsen (D-WA).

Link to full bill text

Link to section by section of bill
Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement after Governor Jay Inslee appointed Ron Sims to serve as the Chair of the Board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange:
 
“I applaud Governor Inslee’s appointment of Ron Sims to chair the Board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.  For years, Ron has been fighting to improve health care in our community as King County Executive and as a founding member of the Puget Sound Health Alliance.   He is proven leader and tireless advocate for Washingtonians,  and he will be a tremendous asset to the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.  I look forward to working with him in the future. “
House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith announced today that he will push an amendment to the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act to remove the restrictions on transferring individuals from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO) into the United States for trial or detention. Current law prohibits the United States from transferring detainees into the United States and from constructing or modifying facilities to house them for the purposes of detention or imprisonment, which prevents the President from closing the facility.

“The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is an international eyesore that undermines our national security objectives, damages our credibility with regard to human rights and international law, and wastes taxpayer dollars,” said Smith. “As the cost for the facility continues to increase, so too does the need to close it. But, we cannot effectively close this facility until the congressionally mandated restrictions are removed.”

Smith’s amendment will strike two provisions in the bill that would perpetuate congressionally imposed road blocks to closing GTMO. The two sections Smith will aim to remove are:

Section 1032—Prohibition on Use of Funds to Construct or Modify Facilities in the United States to House Detainees Transferred from United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Section 1033—Prohibition on the Use of Funds for the Transfer or Release of Individuals Detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.