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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LANGEVIN. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I appreciate the gentleman from Ohio and the gentleman from Michigan for offering this amendment; but unfortunately I must rise in opposition.

I certainly share their concerns, and I know of their good intentions; and I certainly share the authors' concerns over civilian casualties, and certainly even one civilian death is too many.

Mr. Chair, we should not jeopardize our men and women in uniform by hamstringing their ability to engage when threatened or returning fire. Certainly the Predators are incredibly powerful tools, and they need to be used judiciously and appropriately. I believe that they are only when necessary. The language here as it is written would threaten many of the most urgent uses of remotely powered aircraft. For example, if our troops are under fire from an unknown assailant or if an insurgent is placing a bomb, this language, as I read it, would prohibit targeting that individual.

Mr. Chairman, patterns of behavior are certainly appropriate indicators and are vetted strenuously. John Brennan at the White House has indicated and stated publicly that the drone-strike policy was rooted in adherence to law, and indeed the authorization for use of military force provides the President with the authority to ``use all necessary and appropriate force.''

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Mr. LANGEVIN. I appreciate the gentleman yielding.

There are strict policies for how these tools can be used: there has to be a significant threat to the United States; action could mitigate or prevent an actual threat from materializing; capture is not feasible or could put U.S. servicemen and -women in undue harm; and collateral damage and harm to civilians is minimal. This strict criteria is what can be used, and I think they are the tools that we need to preserve.

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