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Public Statements

Amendment No. 10 Offered by Mr. Kratovil

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Amendment No. 10 Offered by Mr. Kratovil -- (House of Representatives - June 25, 2009)

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Mr. McKEON. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume. While I will not oppose the amendment offered by the gentleman from Mississippi contained in this bloc, I claim the time in opposition to express a concern I have about the amendment as drafted.

Mr. Taylor's amendment would authorize the Navy to use $35 million from procurement of lightweight torpedoes, known as Mark-46, to convert two commercial ferries for military uses as intratheater lift platforms. These two commercial vessels were built through a Maritime Administration title 11 loan guarantee, which may soon be in default.

A separate amendment in the base bill directs the Maritime Administration to consult with the Navy before disposing of these vessels should the Maritime Administration receive title to them through default on the loan.

The Navy has stated that they may have an interest in the vessels, but would likely have to make significant improvements to them to render the vessels appropriate for military use. This will require some study and planning on the part of the Navy.

Should the Navy determine that these vessels have military utility, I would not object to the Navy leasing and converting these commercial ferries. But I do ask the chairman and the gentleman from Mississippi to work with me in conference with the other body to find an alternate offset for this effort.

Although the GAO has indicated that there may be nearly $50 million in excess funds for the lightweight torpedo program, the Navy is currently in negotiations with the supplier to procure at least 38 more torpedo upgrade kits with $23 million of this money.

In addition, the Navy is moving to a full and open competition for these upgrade kits starting in fiscal year 2010. A $35 million reduction is more than a third of the fiscal year 2010 request and would substantially limit the Navy's ability to complete this program and continue to buy more upgrade kits.

The Navy is using the pressure of this future competition to get the best price possible on these additional upgrade kits this year. These upgrade kits are necessary to improve the capability of these torpedoes against quiet, diesel electric submarines.

Therefore, I will support the amendment, but hope we can work together to find a more suitable offset in the conference.

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Mr. McKEON. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The gentleman from Maryland's amendment would require the Secretary of Defense to place military personnel on U.S.-flagged vessels operating in high-risk piracy areas of the world's oceans. The gentleman's intention is good. All Americans are outraged about the recent outbreak of piracy and desire a comprehensive solution. But we also must recognize that commercial shipping lines bear responsibility to secure their cargoes and should not be given free protection by U.S. military personnel everywhere in the world. The solution to piracy cannot simply be a military one. Additionally, the sad fact is that the bulk of U.S. cargo and U.S. citizens travel on ships that are not U.S.-flagged vessels and would not be protected by this amendment.

Further, the Navy and Marine Corps do not have a sufficient number of Embarked Security Teams, known as ESTs, which receive specialized training, to protect even the relatively small number of U.S. flagged vessels. Based on operational tempo and dwell times, set by the Chief of Naval Operations, it's clear that expanding the deployment of ESTs would negatively impact other existing operational commitments. For this reason and others, the Navy does not support placing ESTs on U.S. flagged vessels for protection from pirates nor does the commander of Fifth Fleet, Vice Admiral Gortney.

The Navy has also pointed out that embarking U.S. servicemembers on nonsovereign immune vessels presents legal issues, including possible criminal and civil liability for the servicemembers.

Therefore, while I will not oppose this amendment because the underlying purpose is good, I would ask the chairman and the gentleman from Maryland to work with me in conference with the other body to develop a lasting solution that protects United States' interests and does not place an undue burden on the Navy.

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Mr. McKEON. Mr. Chairman, I rise in very strong opposition to this amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. McKEON. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

We have been down this road before. Last year Mr. Holt proposed a similar amendment to our bill. In response we received statements from the Army and the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence stating their opposition to mandatory videotaping and interrogations. Today the Office of the Secretary of Defense has informed us that the Department strongly opposes this amendment.

According to DOD, the provision would cause three main problems: it would severely restrict the collection of intelligence through interrogations. It would undercut the Department's ability to recruit sources. And it would impose an unreasonable administrative and logistical burden on the warfighter. A provision like this would create a public record that would go straight into terrorists' counter-resistance training programs.

I strongly, as I said, oppose this amendment.

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Mr. McKEON. Mr. Chairman, just to again reiterate what the Department of Defense has told us, this is a statement that we received yesterday afternoon from the Department of Defense. I would like to read just a couple of things from it:

``The Department of Defense strongly opposes the provision because it would severely restrict the collection of intelligence through interrogations, undercut the Department's ability to recruit sources, and impose an unreasonable administrative and logistical burden on the warfighter.

``A statutory video recording requirement will be a matter of public record. Detainees will, therefore, know through counter-resistance training that anything they say will be recorded and may be used against them publicly, in a courtroom, or to gain leverage with other detainees. This will inhibit detainees from cooperating with interrogators and undercut the interrogators' most effective technique, establishing rapport with the detainees. Moreover, if a video recording is, in fact, released to the public and it becomes known that a detainee has collaborated with U.S. intelligence, the safety of the detainee and his family would be jeopardized.

``Even if a detainee agrees to be recorded, there is a tendency for both the detainee and the interrogator to `play to the camera,' creating an artificiality to the questioning, thereby degrading the quality of the intelligence information.''

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Mr. McKEON. Reclaiming my time.

This will work to improve the process by which our men and women in uniform who are serving outside the United States register and vote in State and local and Federal elections.

I understand that Congress is already working to improve this process. I also understand that the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which is responsible for assisting our troops with the voting process, has a newly appointed director who will begin his duties next month.

With that, I support efforts to increase the opportunities for our servicemembers to vote. I congratulate the gentlelady from New York for bringing forth this amendment, and especially while they are serving in combat.

I know we have had questions during elections whether their votes were counted, whether they got back in time. So I really appreciate the effort she makes on their behalf and, therefore, I support and urge all of our Members to support this amendment.

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Mr. McKEON. Mr. Chairman, I rise to claim this time, but I am not in opposition to Mr. Connolly's amendment. Although I do support the gentleman's amendment to clarify the purported intent of section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, I believe it does not do enough.

The Department is aggressively seeking alternative fuel sources for their aircraft, vehicles, and naval vessels, and section 526 poses a serious barrier to these efforts. We need to encourage the Department to continue these efforts, not shackle them with greenhouse gas emission limits that are set from arbitrary and ambiguous standards.

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