Congressional Record: March 13, 2003 (Extensions)
Page E453



                          HON. ADAM B. SCHIFF

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, March 13, 2003

  Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing, with my colleague 
Mr. Frank of Massachusetts, the Military Tribunals Act of 2003 to 
provide congressional authorization for tribunals to try unlawful 
combatants against the United States in the war on terrorism.
  As the war on terrorism continues and more suspected al Qaeda 
terrorists are arrested, Congress must ensure that justice is delivered 
swiftly and responsibly in order to punish the terrorists as well as to 
prevent future attacks.
  Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution provides that it is the 
Congress that has the power to establish tribunals inferior to the 
Supreme Court. Up until now, however, there has been no congressional 
authorization for military tribunals. Efforts to form such tribunals, 
to date, have been performed solely by executive order of the President 
with clarifying regulations promulgated by the Secretary of Defense.
  Some would argue, not implausibly, that despite the clear language of 
Article 1, Section 8, congressional authorization is not necessary; 
that as Commander-in-Chief, the President has the authority to regulate 
the affairs of the military which extends to the adjudication of 
unlawful combatants. However, if Congress fails to act, any 
adjudications by military tribunal will likely be challenged in court 
on the basis that the tribunals were improperly constituted.
  The Military Tribunals Act of 2003 establishes the jurisdiction of 
these new courts to quickly and efficiently prosecute suspected al 
Qaeda terrorists who are not U.S. citizens or lawful residents. The 
bill preserves the basic rights of habeus corpus, appeal, and due 
process. Furthermore, this legislation protects the confidentiality of 
sources of information, protects classified information, and also 
protects ordinary citizens from being exposed to the dangers of trying 
these suspects.
  Perhaps of most importance, in the context of a war without a clear 
end and against an enemy without uniform or nation, this bill requires 
the President to report to Congress on who is detained, for how long, 
and on what basis.
  Mr. Speaker, in sum, the Military Tribunals Act of 2003 gives the 
Commander-in-Chief the power to try unlawful combatants, provides the 
confidence that these judgments will be upheld, establishes clear rules 
of due process, and ensures that the hallmarks of our democracy are not