U.S. Rep. Timothy V. Johnson offered the following statement today in response to votes on the National Defense Authorization Act.
"This week's debate on defense spending continues a pattern of bad foreign, fiscal and domestic policy. Above all else, the NDAA calls for a slowdown of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan ostensibly to ensure Afghan forces can stand on their own. The simple fact of the matter is we have been in Afghanistan over a decade and with what results? This misdirected massive ground war has cost us more than 2,000 American soldiers with over 15,000 more wounded. Our special forces took out the main objective in Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. The enemy we went to destroy has been vanquished. I fail to understand what can be gained by our continued presence and the continued infusion of billions of scarce dollars there.
This bill ignores the fiscal calamity our nation is in. This bill spends $7 billion more than last year, just on core defense programs, not including Afghanistan. That is even more than the President's own request. With war funding including, the tab grows to $642 billion. We are spending $10 billion a month in Afghanistan alone. In the Agriculture Committee, we are currently contemplating cutting $33 billion in the Farm Bill that directly supports our Illinois farmers, our food system, and food for the needy. Our national priorities are backwards; we should be nation building at home, not in the graveyard of oppressive empires.
Finally, and most dreadfully, this bill allows for the permanent detainment of U.S. citizens for being suspected of terrorist activities. This egregious trample of individual rights is completely unacceptable. That is why I sponsored and voted in favor of the Amash-Smith Amendment guaranteeing Habeus Corpus rights for American citizens. When you look back over the last decade with the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the use of drones, the secret prisons and the reach of the Department of Homeland Security, Congress has piece-by-piece whittled away our fundamental rights of privacy.
I obviously and have historically supported our troops and the need for a strong national defense, but this legislation is not the right way to accomplish those goals."