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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, section 1031 is a congressional statement of authority of already existing law. It reaffirms the fact this body believes al-Qaida and affiliated groups are a military threat to the United States and they can be held under the law of war indefinitely to make sure we find out what they are up to; and they can be questioned in a humane manner consistent with the law of war.

Section 1032 says if you are captured on the homeland, you will be held in military custody so we can gather intelligence. That provision can be waived if it interferes with the investigation.

These are needed changes. These are changes that reaffirm what is already in law.


Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I would like to rise in support of the statements made by Senators McCain and Levin.

I do not have that good a feeling about Iraq, quite frankly. I am not very confident at all that the worst is behind us. I am hopeful that we can withdraw our troops and that nothing bad will happen in Iraq, but, as Senator Levin just described, the implications of repealing the authorization to use military force are wide, varied, and uncertain.

What do you get by repealing this? You can go back home and say you did something that--I do not know what you get. I mean, I really do not. I do not know what we gain as a nation by taking the contingencies of using military force off the table as we try to wind down.

I just don't see the upside, quite frankly. I know the reality of what our troops face and why the Department of Defense would want to continue to have this authorization until we get Iraq behind us. At the end of the day, 4,400 people plus have lost their lives, thousands have been wounded and maimed--not counting the Iraqis who have lost their lives and have been wounded and maimed trying to create order out of chaos.

As we move forward as a body, I don't see the upside to those who are doing the fighting and who have to deal with complications of this long, protracted war by us repealing the authorization at a time when it may be necessary to have it in place. If there is any doubt in your mind about what Senators Levin and McCain say and what the Department of Defense says about the need for this to be continued, I ask you to give the benefit of the doubt to the DOD. You don't have to; I just think it is a wise thing to do because what we gain by repealing it--I am not sure what that is in any real sense.

By having the authorization in place for a while longer, I understand how that could help those who are fighting in Iraq and the follow-on needs that come as we transition. I ask the body to be cautious, and if you have any doubt that Senator McCain's or Senator Levin's concerns are real, I think now is the time to defer to the Department of Defense and give them the tools they need to finish the operations in Iraq.

I will close with this one thought. The vacuum created by the fact that we will not have any troops in 2012 can be filled in a very bad way if we don't watch it. The Kurd-Arab problem could wind up in open warfare. The Iranian influence in Iraq is growing as we speak. We do have troops and civilian personnel in the country, and we will have a lot next year. I think out of an abundance of caution we ought to leave the tools in place that the Department of Defense says they need to finish this out.

I urge my colleagues to err on the side of giving the Department of Defense the authorization they need to protect those who will be left behind.


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