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Patriot Act

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


PATRIOT ACT

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I rise to echo what Senator Sessions just said. I have tried to be involved with this detainee issue in as balanced a way as I can. I don't want my country to go down the road of adopting the tactics of our enemy. That has never been the issue. We have had some people who have done some bad things, and they have been prosecuted. But when you get editorials from major papers such as the New York Times saying our troops routinely abuse people, that is ludicrous. There have been thousands of people detained in this war. Some have been mistreated. We are prosecuting those people. We can do better, but we will do better. We are trying to get a grip on our policies so that we cannot only live up to who we are as a people but defend ourselves, too.

This enemy knows no bounds. This enemy is a ruthless enemy. They train each other to allege abuse. That is part of the al-Qaida manual. They will say anything. We want a process to make sure that real allegations are dealt with honestly and that mere accusations do not require us to let these people go and not be able to defend ourselves.

This editorial refers to the so-called war on terror. That is a mindset we need to reject. This is not a so-called war.

I just got back from Iraq. It is a real war. Five minutes before the polls opened, they lobbed a shell over where we were staying. One marine was injured. It is a real war to him and to all the other people who have been wounded and to the families who have lost their loved ones. It is a real war to the 3,000 people killed on 9/11 and their families. It is a real event. We are at war.

I am insistent that my country live up to its obligations under treaties, the law of armed conflict. I am equally insistent that our law reflect we are at war.

Senator Sessions is a former U.S. attorney.

We are not fighting crime here, we are fighting a war or terror. The PATRIOT Act is not about prosecuting people who are involved in criminal enterprises. The PATRIOT Act is about preventing the infiltration of our country by a foreign enemy who wants to blow us up and kill Americans.

During World War II, the War Powers Act was passed, and that makes this bill look like the ACLU. There were some very strong measures taken after Pearl Harbor, and they worked. The Germans and Japanese infiltrators were caught and our country, for the most part, was not infiltrated. The FBI and other organizations did a marvelous job protecting us against ruthless enemies, the Nazis and the Japanese.

This enemy is just as ruthless. We don't have to pick and choose between abandoning the rule of law and civil liberties. We don't have to choose between letting people go or anything goes. That is not the choice. The PATRIOT Act is a balance. Here is what I worry the most about: As we try to straighten out past mistakes, as we try to come up with new policies, I worry that we are slowly but surely losing the idea that we are at war. That is beginning to fade, and we are approaching this problem we face called terrorism as if it were a domestic criminal event. If we do that, our enemy will have opportunities they do not deserve. Our people will suffer.

So count me in and sign me up for adhering to the law of armed conflict and for maintaining the moral high ground. But I reject an effort to criminalize what I think is world war III.

I yield the floor.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GRAHAM. I appreciate the compliment. I don't want to defame the Army. I am in the Air Force. I have been in the Air Force as an Active-Duty Reserve lawyer for 20-something years. By no means am I an international expert, but I feel as though I am going to get a master's degree in this type of law when this is all over. The bottom line is, I have a general understanding of how the law of armed conflict works versus domestic criminal law because that is what I used to do. That is what I kind of still do. I understand the difference between defensive measures. Keeping an enemy from infiltrating a country is a different need than trying to domestically control the behavior of your own citizens. Sometimes your own citizens jump sides and join the enemy. When they do that, I don't have a lot of sympathy for them. So we have a different task at hand.

This is not regulating U.S. domestic criminal enterprises. This is trying to stop an enemy that is hell-bent on coming back. And they are coming. They are here. Thanks to fighting them hard, we have stopped them for 4 years. But it is inevitable that we are going to hit again.

Mr. SESSIONS. Will the Senator yield for one more question?

Mr. GRAHAM. Yes.

Mr. SESSIONS. I was pleased to be able to join with Senator Graham and Senators Lieberman, Bayh, Brownback, and a number of other Senators, in forming a caucus or a group to treat the energy threats to this country as a national security threat. Now I think it is unfortunate--and it is a complex Senate that we are operating in today--that ANWR legislation will be a part of that bill. I wish it did not have to be, but things boiled down at the end of the session to that way. I would like to have the Senator share some thoughts on the philosophy of that bipartisan group that energy is security for our Nation.

Mr. GRAHAM. I thank the Senator for the question. I think we have come to the conclusion, after $3-a-gallon gas, oil and gas prices are also good domestic politics because we all got our heads handed to us at home. Everybody is upset. If you are working in South Carolina making $7, $8, $10-an-hour and gas is $3 a gallon, it really hits home. What we came together on is trying to find a political solution to the domestic problem. What Senator Sessions indicated is that we came together on the fact that if we are this dependent as a Nation on Mideast oil, fossil fuels, 10 or 20 years from now, we have done our Nation a disservice because our national security interest is best served when we can be independent from forces we cannot control. We should, as a Nation, a long time ago have become more energy independent. It is a national mistake, from a security perspective, to have this much dependence on fossil fuels from a region that is this volatile. It weakens our ability as a Nation to protect ourselves.

In that regard, some Republicans and Democrats have come up with a proposal to be aggressive to wean us off Mideast foreign oil because it really does hurt our national security interest. We should not be this beholden to any region of the world for everyday functions in this country.

A final thought about the PATRIOT Act. Those who oppose it, I respect you for standing up for the American way, civil liberties. But there has to be a balance here. When I go to the library, I don't want to be bothered. Let me tell you, if there is a reason to believe somebody is going to the library or using everyday life in America as a tool to infiltrate our country and do damage, I think we have to have a balance because they are here. The Presiding Officer knows better than I that they are here. The hijackers of 9/11 had multiple driver's licenses. They know how to game the system. They know how to get access to our technology and our science. If we don't have the common sense to have a balanced approach to get ahead of them, and if we play this game that this is crime and not a war, we are going to empower them beyond what is reasonable.

If we leave as a body and let this act expire because we cannot find common ground, then I think we have done the country a great disservice, and the enemy would appreciate that.

I yield the floor.

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