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Conference Report H.R. 4310, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

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Mr. THORNBERRY. First, let me commend the chairman, the ranking member, and all the staff members for getting us here.

Unfortunately, it is all too rare for the House to consider a bill with over 140 amendments on the floor here, have it passed, have a bill pass the Senate, go to a conference committee, and then have the conference report come back out to go to the President. It is all too rare, but if it's going to happen, it ought to happen on a bill dealing with the country's national security, and obviously that's what this bill does.

Mr. Speaker, I think this is a good bill that makes significant progress in a number of areas. From the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, which I'm pleased to lead with Mr. Langevin, the distinguished gentleman from Rhode Island, we enhance oversight of cyber-operations in this bill, although we both acknowledge there is much more work to be done in the field of cyber. We meet some of the unfunded requirements of our special operations forces. We take steps to improve the management of our science and technology programs. And there are improvements to acquisition of information technology, which is an increasing challenge to the Pentagon because it does not fit within our normal acquisition methods.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would just comment briefly. The gentleman from New York read the provision in this bill that deals with detention. It is absolutely true that this bill affirms yet again that the original Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed in 2001 or last year's NDAA does not change the basic constitutional rights to which all persons in the United States are entitled. Now, it may be that there are some people who are unhappy with those basic constitutional rights; they think it should be more, or they think the Supreme Court has misinterpreted some of those rights. That is a different debate.

But there has been a fair amount of misinformation on this point, and I think for all Members who are concerned about this issue who get questioned about this issue, just read the language which says nothing changes those basic constitutional rights.

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