Providing For Consideration Of H.R. 2701, Intelligence Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2010, Waiving Requirement Of Clause 6(a) Of Rule Xiii With Respect To Consideration Of Certain Resolutions, And Providing For Consideration Of Motions To Suspend The Rules
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I appreciate the gentleman from California yielding to me.
I think it is important to step back and put this bill in a bit of context. The Intelligence Committee reported H.R. 2701 out of committee on June 26, 2009, by a vote of 12-9 and the Rules Committee first reported a rule for its consideration here on the floor on July 8, 2009. And yet, from July 8, 2009, until today there has not been time found on the floor to consider this measure. Now, we did find time to consider the Restore Our American Mustangs Act, we did find time to consider the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act, we found time to consider the Castle Nugent National Historic Site Establishment Act for St. Croix, all under a rule--none of these even included suspensions--but we couldn't find time to have the Intelligence authorization bill in support of the very people that the gentleman from Florida and the gentleman from California are talking about who keep us safe.
What has happened over the past 7 months since this bill was reported out, as the gentleman from California mentioned, is that we have had a number of arrests and attempted attacks against our homeland; I count eight that have made the papers. Some of them we have stopped by the diligent work of our intelligence professionals. One of them at least was stopped by just pure luck. One of them was not stopped at all, and that was at Fort Hood, where a number of people tragically lost their lives.
In addition, in the last several months, the situation in Afghanistan has changed tremendously. We have had increased terrorist threats emanating from Yemen and Somalia and other places around the world. And yet for some reason intelligence was not a high enough priority, with the leadership of this House at least, to bring this Intelligence authorization bill to the floor.
In addition to that, I would say that a number of issues have been much discussed in the press and around the country that are very central to the efforts of those intelligence professionals to keep us safe. For example, the President said he was going to close Guantanamo Bay within 1 year; it hasn't happened. What's going to happen with those prisoners now? What happens if an American somehow joins a terrorist organization overseas? What are his rights and what are our responsibilities when we get into that situation?
Should there be a complete record of the briefings that were made to Congress about various anti-terrorism matters or should those just be selectively leaked out as is happening now?
Another question: Should we automatically give the Miranda warning that says you have the right to remain silent when a non-U.S. person is obtained here in the United States?
Now, amendments on every one of these issues I've just mentioned were filed before the Rules Committee, and yet none of those amendments was made in order.
Why? We have these issues that are central to safeguarding the country. Yet the majority does not make those in order. What does it make in order? A number of reports, as we have discussed.
In addition, in the manager's amendment, there is a section that, I am afraid, illuminates for us all the approach that at least some people in this House are taking in this fight against terrorism. I do not believe it represents a number of the members of the Intelligence Committee, who see this every day; but in the manager's amendment are provisions that apply only to intelligence community professionals. The provisions say that they will go to jail for forcing one to do something that is against one's individual religious beliefs.
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I appreciate the gentleman for yielding.
Now, remember, we can't have debates on serious issues regarding Guantanamo, Miranda rights and other things. What is hitting in this blizzard of reports are several pages which say, if our intelligence professionals try to get information from a terrorist in order to prevent future terrorist attacks and if they don't give him the proper amount of sleep, our intelligence professionals will go to jail.
If they do anything that violates how the terrorist sees his religious rights, without any standard of reasonableness, without any standard to judge it by--it's like, if the terrorist says, My religion requires me to have a Big Mac every day. If we don't give him that Big Mac, we are violating this provision, and our intelligence professionals will go to jail.
There are provisions which say subjecting a terrorist to prolonged isolation will cause our intelligence professionals to go to jail. How many county jails and State prisons in the country could operate under this standard? I would say none. This provision will treat terrorists more gingerly than those in our criminal defense system.
So, Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, what this rule does is it avoids the debates on the substantive issues. Yet there is this thread, which I don't believe the President seems to share--perhaps some in his administration do, and perhaps a few people in this Congress do--a thread of antagonism against our intelligence professionals which says we are going to prosecute them, as the Justice Department is investigating, and that we are going to send them to jail if they don't coddle these terrorists in the appropriate way.
I think that reflects a lack of seriousness with this measure, and that is sufficient reason to reject this rule.
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I thank my friend for yielding.
Let's start with a bit of context. Remember, the Army field manual has been published so that terrorists all around the world know what we will and will not do to them. This will take it another step forward and actually give terrorists more rights, more consideration than ordinary criminals in our criminal justice system.
For example, it is not unusual, I suspect, for the FBI to interrogate someone accused of a crime, perhaps involving murder, to say you'd better cooperate with us or you may get the death penalty. That would be illegal under this amendment. As a matter of fact, the intelligence professional who says that under this amendment would go to jail for 15 years because you cannot threaten the use of force.
The gentleman's correct; there is no standard of reasonableness for what
they would classify as your religious practice, so I can classify as my religious practice anything I say. And the intelligence professionals have to coddle to that or they could go to jail. It is an outrageous inversion of our priorities, I think, Mr. Speaker, where we care more about coddling the terrorists than we do about protecting the American people.
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