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by Dennis Kucinich
Feb. 26, 2010
Washington D.C. (February 26, 2010) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today issued the following statement after the House of Representatives voted 235 to 168 to pass the Intelligence Authorization Act:
“I strongly support the dedicated public servants of our intelligence community. Their work to ensure our national security is to be commended. However, I must oppose the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2010.
“This legislation contains provisions that implement vital measures of accountability, such as a provision to prohibit the use of funds for payment to any contractor to conduct interrogations of detainees currently in custody. I also support the provision in this legislation to establish an independent Intelligence Community-wide Inspector General. These provisions are an important step to ensure that mechanisms of accountability and oversight are in place. However, I remain concerned that some of the methods being employed by our intelligence community may amount to serious violations of international law and our Constitution.
“Last month, The Washington Post and New York Times reported that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) maintained lists of “high value individuals” targeted for assassination abroad, and that those lists contain U.S. citizens. What’s more, the President may have authorized military operations with the express understanding that a U.S. citizen might be killed, or may be killed in the future.
“Under such a policy, U.S. citizens are added to the list simply for being suspected of involvement in terrorism, in subversion of their basic constitutional rights to due process of law. Their right to a trial and to present a defense is summarily and anonymously stripped from them. History has demonstrated that the U.S. government has been mistaken when accusing someone of involvement in terrorism. Most recently, following the 2008 Supreme Court decision to afford detainees held indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay habeas corpus rights, the government was forced by federal judges to release thirty-three of thirty-nine detainees on the grounds of insufficient evidence to support accusations of their involvement in terrorism. U.S. citizens accused of involvement in terrorism are not even afforded the same rights that Guantanamo detainees are – if they are added to the targeted assassination list, their punishment is murder.
“In response to these reports, I submitted a common-sense amendment that would have required the President to report to the congressional intelligence committees the identities of all U.S. citizens included on such lists, currently or in the future. My amendment was about accountability. If the Administration sees fit to revoke unilaterally the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens abroad based on suspicion of involvement in terrorism, devoid of any judicial review, it must at least be required to report to the congressional intelligence committees each time a U.S. citizen is added to a targeted assassination list.
“Since the beginning of the War in Iraq more than eight years ago, I have expressed grave concern that intelligence is being fabricated or abused by the Executive Branch to justify the war in Iraq. More recently, The Nation reported that Blackwater was intimately involved in a targeted assassination program run by the JSOC and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Pakistan – a country with which we are not at war. I am gravely concerned about the use of private security contractors in intelligence work, particularly in programs that have virtually no transparency, accountability, or oversight. I remain concerned that we are continuing to conduct intelligence work in contravention of international law and in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
“I will continue to work to ensure that all have equal protection under the law; and that Congress conducts its constitutionally mandated oversight of the Executive Branch effectively.”