Press Release - Fitzpatrick Votes to Preserve Geneva Convention, Put Terrorists on Trial

Date: Sept. 27, 2006
Location: Washington, DC

Fitzpatrick Votes to Preserve Geneva Convention, Put Terrorists on Trial
Votes For the "Military Commissions Act of 2006"

Washington, Sep 27 -

Congressman Michael G. Fitzpatrick today voted to give our soldiers and intelligence agencies the tools they need to fight the War on Terror and prevent future attacks. The House passed H.R. 6166, the "Military Commissions Act" by a vote of 253 to 168 (Roll Call: 491).

"Our military and intelligence personnel desperately need the right tools to capture, detain, interrogate and put on trial, terrorists who wish to destroy our country and our way of life," Fitzpatrick said. "The need to fight the War on Terror is paramount, but it cannot be won at the cost of the freedoms and constitutional protections that define us as a people and maintain our role as the world's beacon of liberty."

H.R. 6166, the updated version of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, reflects the agreement reached among the House, Senate and White House to effectively and fairly prosecute terrorists, while also protecting American troops and intelligence agents fighting the Global War on Terror. The legislation recognizes the ongoing nature of the war on terrorism and affords terrorists basic rights while ensuring American troops can continue to effectively fight terrorists.

"Despite arguments to the contrary from Democrats in Congress, the War on Terror is real and must be won," Fitzpatrick said. "We must have the flexibility to capture and interrogate terrorists who are determined to kill us. The terrorists we now fight in Iraq and Afghanistan reject morality and the rule of law by their very nature. Beheadings, executions, torture and the targeting of innocent civilians continue to be the terrorist's hallmark. However, the United States cannot lower itself to the standards of the enemy we face and we cannot abrogate our commitments under the Geneva Conventions."

The Military Commissions Act conforms with the United States' obligations to international treaties and all applicable U.S. laws, including laws banning torture and cruel and inhuman treatment of terrorists. H.R. 6166 ensures that military commissions satisfy America's international treaty obligations and applicable laws by:

• Authorizing in law a regularly constituted court, affording all the necessary "judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples" for purposes of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions;

• Establishes that cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, as defined in the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, fully satisfies the United States' obligations with respect to Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions; and

• Clarifies what is considered a war crime in United States law by codifying the offenses and crimes triable for serious violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

"I supported language introduced by Senator McCain in last year's defense bill that prohibited the use of torture to gather information from terrorists," Fitzpatrick said. "This legislation holds true to the spirit of the McCain amendment, and I support it today."

On September 22, 2006, Fitzpatrick wrote a letter to Senator John McCain thanking him for his leadership in forging an agreement during negotiations between the Senate, the House and the White House on the military commissions issue. A copy of this letter is attached to this release for your review.