Schiff Calls on Congress to Pass the Guantanamo Detainees Procedures Act of 2005 in the Wake of the Supreme Courts Decision on Military Tribunals

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) today issued the following statement in reaction to the Supreme Court’s 5-3 ruling that the President did not have the authority to set up the “military commissions” in Guantanamo and that they are invalid.  The Court found that the military commissions were not expressly authorized by any congressional act and that “the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction.”

“I agree that the President cannot operate alone in this area without the involvement of Congress and the Courts.  Today, I renew my call for action on H.R. 3038 -- the Guantanamo Detainees Procedures Act -- that would establish tribunals with clear standards and due process and would provide a timely process to charge, release, or repatriate the approximately 450 prisoners at Guantanamo.  

“Congress must ensure that justice is delivered swiftly and responsibly in order to punish terrorists, prevent future attacks, and ensure swift and just processing of those detained.  The Congressional abdication of responsibility in this area over the last three years has resulted in a completely dysfunctional system for the detention of enemy combatants that has weakened our credibility with our allies and failed to meet our own constitutional standards.”

Congressman Schiff first introduced legislation to authorize the detention of enemy combatants more than three years ago.  He was the first House member to do so.  The Guantanamo Detainees Procedures Act would:

  • Provide that the executive branch has the authority to detain foreign nationals as unlawful combatants
  • Provide a timely hearing before an independent military officer to challenge their designation as an unlawful combatant
  • Require release/repatriation or initiation of formal charges within two years, unless the Secretary of State certifies that extraordinary circumstances requires additional time and sets out a factual basis for this decision 
  • Require the establishment of tribunals with clear standards and procedures designed to ensure a full and fair hearing for the detainee when formal charges are initiated.