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Public Statements

Defense Authorization

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I thank the Senator. This is the ninth Defense authorization bill I have been involved in since I have been a Member of the Senate. I must say the refusal by the majority leader to bring this Defense authorization bill to the floor is truly disheartening. It is critically important that we address the issues not only of what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan but the day-to-day operations of our military from the standpoint of pay raises, quality of life, purchase of weapons systems for future use--any number of issues that are included. The refusal of the majority leader to bring this to the floor because of his objection to a very critical aspect of this bill truly is disheartening.

During committee consideration of the bill, the committee considered and adopted, by a vote of 25 to 1, a comprehensive bipartisan provision relating to detainees. We have no detainee policy in this country today. If we had captured bin Laden, what would we have done with him? If we had captured Anwar al-Awlaki, what would we have done with him? Certainly we could have gained actionable intelligence from either one of those individuals, but we have no detainee policy in this country today. We have nowhere to take them, where we can hold these individuals and ensure that they do not get lawyered up quickly and that we are unable to get the type of information we need to get from individuals such as that.

Over the past several years there has been an ongoing debate about the importance of being able to fully and lawfully interrogate suspected terrorists. One thing is clear after all these years: that our Nation still lacks this clear and effective policy. This bipartisan detainee compromise goes a long way toward ensuring we can get timely and actionable intelligence from newly captured detainees connected to al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations. The compromise also provides for a permanent process for transferring Guantanamo detainees to other countries. We are in the midst right now of a review within the Intelligence Committee of the thought process that went into the transferring of detainees by both the Bush administration and the current administration. I will tell you that there are real flaws in that policy. Those flaws have resulted, according to the DNI--General Clapper--of a recidivism rate of Guantanamo detainees of 27 percent. That means 27 percent of the individuals we have released from Guantanamo and sent to other countries that have been willing to take them under various agreements--27 percent of them have returned to the battlefield and are killing or are seeking to kill Americans. The policy not only about detainees but policies with regard to what we do with Guantanamo detainees is extremely important.

There were a number of us who were involved in the amendments that went into the authorization bill in committee. Senator Graham from South Carolina was. Senator Ayotte from New Hampshire was integrally involved. Let me turn to Senator Ayotte and, from the perspective of the people of New Hampshire, ask: Where does the Senator think we are with respect to a detainee policy in this country today?

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