December 02, 2011

Wyden Statement on “No” vote on the Defense Authorization Act

Washington, D.C.U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued the following statement regarding his vote against the Senate passage of the Defense Authorization Act:

“The current version of the 2012 Defense Authorization Act contains a number of provisions that I would like to support, and I respect the effort that many of my colleagues have put into this bill.  Unfortunately, the bill also contains provisions that I believe are extremely unwise, and that risk undermining American values and American counterterrorism efforts.  

I voted against this bill because, in addition to the fact that it does not adequately address the closure of the Umatilla chemical weapons depot, I am also very troubled that it contains provisions that would require mandatory military custody for terrorism suspects captured both in the United States and abroad.  The past decade has shown that federal arrests and prosecutions are often the toughest and most effective way to deal with particular terrorists, and I believe that it is unwise to take this option away from the President and force the military to handle terrorists alone.  

The authors of this bill attempted to include a waiver provision for the new detainee rules, but the executive branch has argued persuasively that this waiver would be cumbersome to use in practice.  And the Director of the FBI has specifically stated that the bill’s detainee provisions ‘fail to recognize the reality of a counterterrorism investigation’ and could seriously harm the FBI’s ability to pursue terrorists inside the United States.  It is not at all clear that any of the modifications that have been made to the bill will fix this problem.  

The Obama Administration has said that passing this bill ‘would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.’  I agree with the Administration’s assessment of this bill, and I hope the President will follow through on his threat to veto it.”