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Public Statements

Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DUNCAN HUNTER NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2009 -- (House of Representatives - May 22, 2008)

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Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. I thank the gentleman from New Jersey. I rise in support of the gentleman's amendment from the great State of New Jersey. I rise because this debate is personal to me.

Madam Chairman, as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, I saw American heroes at their finest, gaining vital intelligence the right way. We have all seen images of what happens when young soldiers are left without clear leadership at the top. Simply put, the treatment of detainees is a strategic imperative to every servicemember wearing the uniform and every American we took an oath to support and protect.

In the first Gulf War, over 100,000 Iraqi soldiers surrendered to American forces because they knew that they would be treated humanely by the American forces. Thousands who did not hide behind street corners with RPGs or IEDs.

The treatment of detainees is what set America apart as a global leader, and it is how we begin to restore the reputation squandered by President Bush and the tragedy of Abu Ghraib.

Madam Chairman, there is nobody in this chamber who supports the vigorous interrogation of suspected terrorists more than me, but it must be done the way that reflects the greatness of America and in a way that protects our fighting men and women. Madam Chairman, this amendment helps do just that.

One of my heroes, General Colin Powell, once said: The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.

Will this amendment fix all our problems? Of course not. But it certainly is a start. I urge my colleagues to vote for the gentleman's amendment.

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Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Madam Chairman, I have great respect for the gentleman from California, and that he is also a paratrooper. But, Madam Chairman, I would suggest that those were my same concerns. In that letter we address those concerns that the Under Secretary said; that in forward operating bases in the environment, there is no mandate in this bill that would require them to videotape the interrogations. It is only at the strategic level in theater, only where they go.

In my case in al Rasheed, Baghdad in 2002, 2004, Madam Chairman, we would interrogate them at a forward operating base, then we would bring them up to the Baghdad airport, then they would go to somewhere else. It would only be at that higher level, not at the forward operating base. And we put that language in this bill to address those exact concerns.

So although I respect greatly the service and the commitment of the gentleman from California and his concerns, those concerns were addressed in this bill. And that is why I support our amendment.

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Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Madam Chairman, I rise in support of the gentlewoman from Pennsylvania's amendment.

In the post-9/11 world, we must utilize all the tools at our disposal to keep our country safe and secure. That is why Congresswoman Schwartz and I, along with our Governor and the majority of the Pennsylvania delegation, are fighting to form a homeland security hub at Willow Grove. Strategically located near Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, D.C., this air base must continue to serve as a strategic asset for our regional and national security.

Madam Chairman, our amendment is simple: It prohibits the base from becoming a commercial, cargo, or passenger airport. Maintaining Willow Grove's strategic focus ensures that we continue to keep Pennsylvania families safe. This is a commonsense, bipartisan way to secure our region. It's a matter of national security.

I thank the Pennsylvania delegation, and I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this amendment.

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