Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley: Changes Need to be Made to Judiciary Committee Passed Bill

Jun 23, 2011


Grassley: Changes Need to be Made to Judiciary Committee Passed Bill


             WASHINGTON – Ranking Member Chuck Grassley today made clear that changes need to be made to the Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning) before it will be considered by the full Senate. 

 

            Grassley said that the ambiguous and unnecessary language regarding the intelligence community carve out must be addressed, and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act needs to be included in the list of covered offenses before the full Senate proceeds on the bill.

 

“Until these concerns are addressed, I will support holding this legislation on the Senate floor.  No one should take my support for this bill in committee to mean anything more than an expression of my willingness to work with the sponsors on this topic to address this concern going forward,” Grassley said.

 

Grassley proposed a carve-out that would include government employees performing intelligence, law enforcement, and protective assignments abroad.  This version is based upon existing U.S. law and is language the intelligence community would support, not just “live with.”

 

“We should never have government employees or contractors committing serious crimes like rape or murder abroad with impunity.   However, we need to think long and hard about the consequences of our actions if we legislate criminal extraterritorial jurisdiction too broadly absent a sufficient carve-out for authorized intelligence activities,” Grassley said. 

 

Grassley also added that the Unborn Victims of Violence Act applies to Department of Defense employees and contractors abroad under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, “so there is no reason not to include it here.  Unborn children outside the United States should be treated no differently than those inside the United States.”

 

Here is the text of the full statement Grassley provided following the Judiciary Committee’s consideration of the bill today.

 

Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley

The Senate Judiciary Committee Vote on S.1145,

the Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

 

      Mr. Chairman, I joined today in a voice vote supporting reporting S.1145 out of committee.  However, my vote does not signal support for the legislation.  Unless changes are made to address the ambiguous and unnecessary language in section 5, regarding the intelligence community carve out, and to ensure that the Unborn Victims of Violence Act is included in the list of covered offenses, as it is in the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, I will support holding the bill on the Senate floor as we work to make those important changes.

 

      Section 5 of the bill contains a jurisdictional carve-out for members of the intelligence community.  However, that language is not the preferred language of the intelligence community.  Instead, the language that is included was merely something the intelligence community said they could “live with”.  This is the second time in the past few months we have heard this phrase from the intelligence community when this committee has dealt with legislation impacting national security.  The first time was the PATRIOT Act mark-up and the version discussed in committee ultimately did not become law.  Absent adopting the language preferred by the intelligence community about what activities abroad should be protected, this bill is destined for that same fate on the Senate floor. 

 

      No one would dispute the importance of holding government employees and contractors accountable abroad.  I support the idea of this legislation, we should never have government employees or contractors committing serious crimes like rape or murder abroad with impunity.   However, we need to think long and hard about the consequences of our actions if we legislate criminal extraterritorial jurisdiction too broadly absent a sufficient carve-out for authorized intelligence activities. 

 

      The current version of the intelligence carve-out is problematic.  There is repetition in the language and extraneous language is unnecessary.  Further, under the current carve-out an intelligence agent may not be protected from prosecution, even though he was authorized to undertake an operation.  The current provision in the bill would require that a supervisors directive be authorized and also be “consistent with applicable U.S. law.”  This extra requirement opens up a world of questions.  How should an agent in the field know his supervisor’s instruction was “consistent with applicable U.S. law”?  Will this provision now require agents to obtain a legal opinion before they take action?  This is not the message we should be sending to the field.

 

      Instead, I proposed a carve-out that would include government employees performing intelligence, law enforcement, and protective assignments abroad.  This version was based upon existing U.S. law.  If the carve-out I proposed is good enough for employees operating inside the United States, it should be good enough for those operating abroad.  Why would we give agents operating in the U.S. more protections than those operating in foreign lands—many of which may be hostile.

 

      Another concern I have is that the legislation fails to include the Unborn Victims of Violence Act into the list of covered offenses.  The Unborn Victims of Violence Act recognizes a child in utero as a legal victim if he or she is injured or killed during the commission of over 60 listed federal crimes.  This law should apply in the Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act context just as it does within the United States.  It makes no sense not to include this statute to the same federal criminal statutes that would now be applied outside the U.S under Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.  The Unborn Victims of Violence Act applies to Department of Defense employees and contractors abroad under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act so there is no reason not to include it here.  Unborn children outside the United States should be treated no differently than those inside the United States.  Any final version of the Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act must include this provision and I will work to make sure it becomes a part of the Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act before agreeing to a vote on the bill. 

 

      Until these concerns are addressed via further changes to the bill, I will support holding this legislation on the Senate floor.  No one should take my support for this bill in Committee to mean anything more than an expression of my willingness to work with the sponsors on this topic to address this concern going forward.   Thank you. 

 

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