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Message to the Congress Transmitting Draft Legislation on Military Commissions

September 06, 2006

To the Congress of the United States:

I transmit for the consideration of the Congress draft legislation entitled the "Military Commissions Act of 2006." This draft legislation responds to the Supreme Court of the United States decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 126 S. Ct. 2749 (2006), by establishing for the first time in our Nation's history a comprehensive statutory structure for military commissions that would allow for the fair and effective prosecution of captured members of al Qaeda and other unlawful enemy combatants. The Act also addresses the Supreme Court's holding that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies to the conflict with al Qaeda by providing definitions rooted in United States law for the standards of conduct prescribed by Common Article 3.

The military commission procedures contained in this draft legislation reflect the result of an extended deliberation both within the executive branch and between representatives of my Administration and Members of Congress. The draft legislation would establish a Code of Military Commissions that tracks the courts-martial procedures of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but that departs from those procedures where they would be impracticable or inappropriate for the trial of unlawful enemy combatants captured in the midst of an ongoing armed conflict, under circumstances far different from those typically encountered by military prosecutors.

Five years after the mass murders of 9/ 11, it is time for the United States to begin to prosecute captured al Qaeda members for the serious crimes that many of them have committed against United States citizens and our allies abroad. As we provide terrorists the justice and due process that they denied their victims, we demonstrate that our Nation remains committed to the rule of law.

I ask that the Congress carefully consider this legislation and respectfully urge its speedy passage for enactment into law.


The White House, September 6, 2006.

George W. Bush, Message to the Congress Transmitting Draft Legislation on Military Commissions Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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