Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Olson Moves to Block US Trials for GTMO Detainees & Giving Enemy Combatants Constitutional Rights

June 1, 2010
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Saying that the Administration has lost its focus in the War on Terror, Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) today offered legislation to make clear that enemy combatants should not be treated like US citizens.  Olson’s initiative is contained in two amendments to the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization bill, which determines the priorities for national security and military functions. 


The first amendment would prevent civilian trials for enemy combatants detained at the U.S. Military base at Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), Cuba.  The second amendment would provide congressional clarification that the right of habeas corpus does not extend to enemy combatants being detained at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. 


“The Administration announced plans to bring Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) – and several of his co-conspirators – to New York City for a civilian criminal trial,” Olson said. â€œKSM is not an American citizen, does not live here, and was captured thousands of miles from U.S. soil.  The same is true for all enemy combatants housed at GTMO.  Foreign enemy combatants do not deserve access to our civilian courts, particularly when evidence can be produced at a criminal trial that could compromise sensitive classified information.  A military tribunal is the proper vehicle for enemy combatants.”


Olson’s other amendment makes clear Congress’ intent that the US government should not extend the constitutional right to access US civilian courts, otherwise known as Habeas Corpus, to enemy combatants detained at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.  Just last week, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that three specific Bagram detainees do not have habeas rights in U.S. Federal Court.  While the ruling is helpful, congressional action is needed to send a clear message that we need to uphold the long precedent that enemy combatants detained in an active war zone do not have the same rights afforded to American citizens. 


This Administration needs to understand what the American people already know. Terrorists captured in foreign battle zones are not like us - they don’t deserve our sacred constitutional rights.   “I am hopeful that my colleagues who serve on the Rules Committee will see this the same way and allow a vote by the full House for these important amendments,” said Olson.


The House Rules Committee will meet today to determine which amendments will be ruled in order for consideration when the House votes on the overall Defense Authorization bill later this week.




Media Contact: Melissa Kelly