|For Immediate Release
June 13, 2013
Contact: Kathryn Rexrode or Jessica Collins, (202) 225-3951
Statement of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte
Goodlatte Amendment to H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY14
Chairman Goodlatte: Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
On September 18, 2001, Congress enacted the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which empowered the President to “use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks,” in order to prevent “any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.”
Section 1021 of the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) reaffirms the President’s authority to detain so called enemy combatants by “affirm[ing] that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force . . . includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons . . . pending disposition under the law of war.”
A number of members from both sides of the aisle have expressed extreme discomfort and even outrage at the notion that a United States citizen apprehended on United States soil can potentially be held indefinitely under this act. To that end, I supported an amendment to the FY 2013 NDAA that reaffirmed the availability of the writ of habeas corpus for any person detained in the United States pursuant to the 2001 AUMF or the FY 2012 NDAA.
While this provision was a step in the right direction, many would view the current habeas proceedings as unfair to the petitioner. For instance, the government enjoys a rebuttable presumption that its evidence is accurate and authentic and it must only prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence. To most Americans, this would not seem to be a fair fight. For United States citizens, the burden should be on the government to prove that the detainee is an enemy belligerent. US citizens should not be put in a position to prove that they are not a terrorist.
Today, with this amendment, I want to make clear that nothing in the AUMF or the FY 2012 NDAA , or any other law for that matter, can be construed to deny the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus. Further, this amendment requires that in habeas proceedings for United States citizens apprehended in the United States pursuant to the AUMF, the government must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the citizen is an unprivileged enemy combatant and there is no presumption that the government’s evidence is accurate and authentic.
This is an important amendment that should alleviate any of the well founded concerns of the American people concerning the possibility of indefinite detention of US citizens.
I want to thank the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee for supporting this amendment and I appreciate his commitment to ensure that this language stays in the bill as it moves through the legislative process.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and I reserve the balance of my time.