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Public Statements

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations At, 2006

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I rise to speak on the Frist amendment, which is one of the two votes we will have shortly.

First, let me say, I regret we are spending an hour and a half of the Senate's time, when we should be debating and completing the Homeland Security bill, engaged in extensive political sparring.

The Karl Rove amendment--and that is exactly what it is--richly deserves to be defeated. I certainly would encourage all of our colleagues to vote against that amendment when it is before us shortly.

But with regard to the Frist amendment, Senators ought to be especially careful when they repeat unproven allegations about the conduct of our troops, particularly during a time of war. Our enemies can make use of such statements. And their propaganda puts at risk our service men and women who are, of course, out there protecting us every day.

Unfortunately, this very thing happened last month when one of our colleagues repeated unproven allegations about our service men and women who were interrogating suspected terrorists. It was reported in the Middle East. It would be hard to believe that it did not do damage to our troops while we continue to fight in the war on terror in that region.

It seems to me if we are going to impose strict liability on Federal employees who act indiscreetly, then we should not have a different standard for ourselves. I know our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have indicated that the Reid amendment intends to include Senators, but it seems not to be drafted that way. If Senators disclose classified information or repeat unproven allegations that endanger our troops, then it seems to me we ought to lose our access to classified information as well.

The Reid amendment does not do that because it talks about Federal employees, which seems to mean only civil servants. Again, I acknowledge and recognize that those on the other side of the aisle have said it means to include us. However, it does not seem to in the plain meaning of the amendment.

The Frist amendment makes it clear that we, as Federal officeholders, also lose our access to confidential information if we act rashly, intemperately, and thereby put our troops at risk. What the Frist amendment is about is the security of our servicemen and our servicewomen.

Statements on the Senate floor--out here on the Senate floor--comparing our service men and women to tyrannical regimes that result in risking their safety must not and should not stand. I hope when the Senate has an opportunity to address both of these amendments shortly, the Reid amendment will be defeated and the Frist amendment will be adopted.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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