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Nadler Applauds President Obama’s Increased Transparency on National Security Issues, Urges Colleagues to Work with President on Core Civil Liberty Concerns

Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s comments on pressing national security issues:

“I applaud President Obama for addressing many of the serious national security issues that our nation is confronting, and for taking steps to increase his Administration’s transparency on core aspects of its counter-terrorism policies.

“I especially welcome the President’s support of the Shield Law, particularly in light of the recent revelations of broad seizure of Associated Press records by the Department of Justice while it sought the source of a leak on the Administration’s successful efforts to prevent a second underwear bomber from exploding an airplane.  In the absence of a federal shield law, such as passed historically by the House of Representatives, the Executive Branch is left to police itself when seeking information from journalists.  Colleagues Ted Poe, Ranking Judiciary Member John Conyers, Jr., Trey Radel and I introduced our bipartisan bill – H.R. 1962, the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013 – earlier this week.  That bill would ensure critical judicial oversight and approval before the Department of Justice can obtain journalists’ records.  I have worked hard on press shield legislation in recent years, and look forward to partnering with the White House to enact the law quickly in order to ensure strong protections and a robust, free press.

“I also appreciate the President’s acknowledgement that the state secret doctrine must be limited.  I have long pushed, in my capacity as Chair and now Ranking member on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, for clear standards and meaningful judicial oversight of this privilege.  The Executive Branch cannot police itself – it simply does not work.  Accordingly, I will soon re-introduce my bill – the State Secret Protection Act – to reform the state secret privilege, and I hope the President will work with me and make good on his commitment to genuine oversight of the Executive Branch on this critical issue.

“On Guantanamo, the President reiterated the need to close the facility and overcome the hurdles put into place by Congress.  I wholeheartedly agree.  We must immediately repeal the unnecessary and unwise restrictions that we have placed on the Executive Branch with regard to its handling of Guantanamo detainees.  I have long supported bringing terror suspects into our judicial system, the core of which is our Article III courts.  Guantanamo and the indefinite detention of individuals without trial is an unquestionable stain on America.  While the closure of Guantanamo raises some tough questions, we cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand.  I urge my colleagues to work with – not against – the President to find a way to finally shutter the Guantanamo Bay facility and end the indefinite detention of the individuals still being held there.

“However, with regard to the use of drones, I remain deeply troubled by the application of lethal force outside of active battlefields.  While I welcome the President’s increased openness on this subject, there is much more that must be done in order to ensure satisfactory oversight of Executive Branch action.”   


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