For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Brenda Bowser Soder
O -202/370-3323, C – 301/906-4460

Retired Admirals and Generals Urge Support for Smith-Amash Amendment to Defense Authorization

WASHINGTON - Twenty-seven of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals urged Members of Congress to support the Smith-Amash Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2013 Fiscal Year. The measure would amend the controversial detention provisions in last year’s defense authorization law to ban indefinite detention in the United States and repeal mandatory military custody of terrorism suspects.

In a public letter sent to Representatives today, the retired military leaders strongly endorsed the amendment, noting that it would strengthen national security and realign American policy with the Constitution.

“As retired general and flag officers, we do not make this request lightly,” wrote the retired generals and admirals.  “However, we strongly believe that sound national security policy depends on faithful adherence to the rule of law.  Though it is lawful for the military to detain those engaged in hostilities in an armed conflict, the armed forces should not supplant our law enforcement and intelligence agencies at home.”

Among those signing today’s letter are members of a non-partisan group of retired generals and admirals that works with Human Rights First. Members of the group stood behind President Obama on his second day in office when he signed the Executive Order to end torture and close CIA secret sites, and they continue to advocate for these goals, meeting with politicians across the political spectrum to educate them on these important subjects.

Last year, members of that group were engaged in the House and Senate debates that proceeded passage of a 2012 NDAA that contained a series of troubling amendments the group noted would undermine national security. In November, they wrote to an open letter to the Senate urging members to defeat an amendment that would have repealed President Obama’s Executive Order banning torture.  The measure was not included in the final bill.

“We appreciate that our leaders are constantly striving to make America more secure, but the indefinite detention and mandatory military custody provisions passed into law in the Fiscal Year 2012 NDAA will do more harm than good,” the letter concluded.  “The Smith-Amash Amendment, if passed into law, would be an important first step towards reversing this damage.”

For more information about the letter or to speak with one of the retired military leaders signing it, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at or 202-370-3323.


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Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.

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