Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Defense Authorization

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. McCAIN. I would like to respond to my colleague--by the way, I noticed she said it would be the first time in her lifetime that we had not passed a Defense authorization bill. It would not be the first time in my lifetime since it has been 41 years.

I would say to my friend and colleague, who has played a very important and essential role on many issues before the Armed Services Committee, not only because of the military background of her family, including a husband who is a distinguished A-10 pilot, but also as a former attorney general of her State, you are very familiar with many of the detainee issues.

I would like to say to my colleague that it was her amendments that were passed in the committee concerning detainee treatment that became part of the legislation. I believe the legislation in that section was passed by a vote of 25 to 1 in the committee. It is not as if there were sharp divisions between both sides of the aisle on the issue of detainee treatment. Yet apparently that seems to be the objection of the administration not only to the bill but even to taking up the bill for consideration before the full Senate, as the Senator from New Hampshire has pointed out, for the first time in 41 years.

I would like to explore with her for a second this whole issue of detainee treatment. Just in the last week or so, we were able to kill one of the leading al-Qaida operatives. I think that action was supported by the majority of opinion in America, thanks to passage of legislation after 9/11 including the fact that the President had a finding that this individual was a terrorist. Yet somehow the President's counterterrorism expert seems to say that under our legislation, we would never be able to turn the page on Guantanamo--and I quote from his speech at Harvard--and he went on to say:

Our counterterrorism professionals would be compelled to hold all captured terrorists in military custody.

First of all, I would ask my colleague, isn't there a national security waiver the President could exercise if he wanted to in the legislation? Second of all, is it not true that you would have to be a designated member of al-Qaida before you would be required to be held in military custody?

So my question is, Is Mr. Brennan misinformed or simply contradicting what is actually the case in the legislation we passed by a unanimous vote through the Senate Armed Services Committee?

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. McCAIN. So the statement Mr. Brennan made in his speech on September 16 at Harvard Law School saying that our counterterrorism professionals would be compelled to hold all captured terrorists in military custody is not correct?

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. McCAIN. It is interesting that he didn't because those who have been released, the latest number I have is about a 20-percent, roughly--and I don't know if the Senator from New Hampshire has different information, but at least one out of every five has returned to the fight and some of them in leadership positions of al-Qaida, which is, obviously, unacceptable.

Mr. President, I ask for an additional 3 minutes for the Senator from New Hampshire and myself.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. McCAIN. I just want to mention very quickly--because in some respects, the Senator from New Hampshire comes from a military family--that it is so important that we care for the men and women in the form of pay raises, in the form of housing, in the form of benefits, in the form of all of the things that are Congress's obligation to the men and women who are serving in the military. Now we are telling those men and women: Well, because of one provision in this legislation, which should be resolved through debate and amendments and votes, we are not going to take up the bill that authorizes the men and women the things that are necessary and vital for the men and women fighting in two wars.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. McCAIN. I thank the Senator from New Hampshire, who has played a very important role in the Armed Services Committee, particularly on the issue of detainee treatment, which is important to the American people. As she just mentioned, one out of four returns to the fight. It is a badge of courage and legitimacy and leadership now in al-Qaida for someone who has been released from Guantanamo.

I hope the majority leader and our colleagues would agree that we could sit down and bring this bill to the floor, have votes, amendments, and then let the men and women who are serving and those who have served, including our wounded warriors, know we care enough to pass legislation that is vital to their ability to defend this Nation and to make sure they are properly equipped and properly compensated.

I thank the Senator from New Hampshire.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


Source:
Skip to top
Back to top