Press Releases

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement after the President announced his plan for U.S. military presence in Afghanistan post-2014:

“I have continued to say that we must end our involvement in the war in Afghanistan as soon as we responsibly can. Redeploying the vast majority of our troops, but maintaining an initial presence of 9,800 military personnel to continue training the Afghan forces and to support operations against Al Qaeda is a responsible path forward. As we move through 2015 and 2016, troop levels will continue to decrease and reflect a more normal embassy presence.

“We cannot and should not continue to maintain a large presence in Afghanistan forever, but we also cannot overlook our national security interest in the region. The announcement today demonstrates that the President understands this balance. The Afghan Government must now sign the Bilateral Security Agreement so the plan can take hold. Otherwise, our options moving forward will be vastly more difficult.

“I applaud the Administration for following through on its goal of responsibly reducing our active involvement in Afghanistan. There will be other decisions to be made in the future about our assistance to the Afghan government, but the American people have paid a significant price in this conflict and it is time that we allow the Afghan people to take responsibility for their own future.”
Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement after his vote against the USA FREEDOM Act:
 
“I voted against the USA FREEDOM Act today because this legislation has too many loopholes that continue to allow unwarranted government access to internet communications and phone data of U.S. persons.  Although I continue to believe it is critical that our intelligence community has the ability to obtain information needed to fight terrorism, collection of that information must not violate civil liberties. Unfortunately, this bill does not strike the right balance.”
House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement after being appointed to the Select Committee on Benghazi:

“Today, I accepted Leader Pelosi’s appointment to be on the Select Committee on Benghazi.  The loss of four brave Americans was tragic, and we must do everything possible to prevent such attacks from happening again. On that point, there is no debate. What is not clear is why this committee needs to be formed in the first place. What are Republicans trying to achieve?
                        
“Since the attack, there have been eight reports on Benghazi: a report done by the State Department Accountability Review Board, two bipartisan reports in the United States Senate, and five reports conducted in the House of Representatives. All questions that have been raised, have been thoroughly investigated and answered, yet House Republicans are demanding another costly investigation.  But we Democrats cannot stop that.  It is going to happen so it is better that we participate to at least try to bring some transparency, fairness and openness to process.  It is, however, regrettable that the Republican majority has insisted on continuing this political witch hunt.
 
“In addition to costing a significant amount of time and money, this witch hunt is costing Congress credibility. Oversight is a very important role of government. However, these repeated attempts by Republicans to find a scandal is undermining our credibility and damaging our ability to conduct legitimate oversight in the future.
 
“This committee never should have been formed. We should be focused on implementing the recommendations produced by the many reports already completed by Congress and tracking down those who attacked us, not attacking each other to gain political points.”
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.